23 Sunday Sep 2012
“I am going fishing.” (John 21:3)
Peter sat silently as his friends Nathanael, James, John and two others engaged in casual conversation. For Peter each day since Jesus’ resurrection from the dead was long and restless. Three years earlier Jesus had promised him so much. To say that recent events had left him deflated is an understatement. At this moment Peter felt like an utter failure. He was disillusioned, disappointed and lost.
Sure, Jesus had risen from the dead as He had promised, and even though Peter rejoiced in this, he felt dead inside.
“That’s great for Jesus and the others, but what does that mean for me?” Peter thought to himself.
Peter rehearsed the same thoughts he’d been pondering for days,
“None of this makes any sense. Jesus called me to follow Him and he would make me a fisher of men. He infused me with His dreams and visions giving me meaning, significance and purpose. Once Jesus put His hand on my shoulder and looked into my eyes declaring me to be a rock and upon this rock He would build His church. I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I knew it was going to be glorious. What a disappointment! I never imagined things would come to this. I still can’t forgive myself for failing Jesus in His greatest hour of need, when I turned tail on Him denying I even knew Him. I’m such a failure. Such a coward – not a rock! I’m not worthy of all His promises and consider myself unworthy of His service.”
Unnoticed by the others, a tear welled up in Peter’s eyes. Peter had few tears left. For they had been spent on countless days and nights weeping in guilt and pain.
Peter had personally seen the empty tomb and was in the room when Jesus revealed His resurrected body to the disciples. But Jesus had given no special or personal attention to him. Peter felt the pressure behind his eyes as he tried to keep his composure in the presence of his friends.
“I loved our relationship! I have such wonderful memories with Jesus. I remember the time Jesus told us we would do the same works as Him and even greater! Jesus always had such a way of inspiring me. We did so much together and He taught me so much of faith and the power of God. I wish things could be like they once were.”
Peter wiped the tear trying to escape his eye as if he was itching it so as to hide his emotion from his friends. He let out a big sigh.
“Now, what to do? All I had anticipated in my life from what Jesus taught and promised had turned to dust blowing in the wind. There is nothing left for me – nothing to do. I’m lost. Jesus has moved on without thought for me. And why shouldn’t He? I’ve proved to be a failure.
Peter stared blankly as he rubbed his hands together.
“So, when did all of this start? Oh yes, I was fishing. Fishing…! I believe I’ll go back and do what I know best – fishing.”
Peter muttered the word softly under his breath. John looked at him,
“What was that, Peter? Did you say something?”
Peter looked up and muttered it again a little louder,
“What are you talking about, Peter?”
With great resolve in eyes, Peter stood up and looked out toward the Sea of Galilee.
“I am going fishing”, he exclaimed!
With confident satisfaction in Peter’s decision, the others piped in too,
“We’re coming with you, Peter!”
Peter and the others organized their gear and headed for the boat. In short order they began making their way out onto the lake. The sound of the water lapping against the sides of the boat, the smell and feel of the damp evening air brought to mind the last memorable time he had been fishing, and though it had only been three years ago, it seemed like ages. Peter began to reminisce again.
“I was so uncertain when the strange teacher, being pushed to the water’s edge by the crowds, called out for me to bring the boat to Him. He asked if I could take Him out a little ways from shore so He could teach from there. At first I thought it an imposition as we were just coming in from an unsuccessful night of fishing and were in need of rest. But I remember being captivated by His words as spoke to the crowds. As He taught the weariness dissipated and I could feel a new energy invading me. I felt a burning in my spirit like Jesus ignited something in my heart that I didn’t know was there.
“After a while I remember Jesus turning to me again, looking right into my eyes and telling me to go out into the deep water and cast our nets for a catch. I was certain this teacher was wise, but maybe not when it comes to fishing. Looking back I can only imagine how foolish I looked when I informed Jesus that we had already fished the peak time last evening and didn’t catch a thing. We consented and let down our nets.
“Words can’t express the emotion of what happened next. Instantly our nets were filled beyond capacity and they began to tear. Additionally, we could not handle the weight of the fish and the boat began to take on water. We had to call to our friends to help us and their boat was also so full they were taking on water. Jesus turned to me and just smiled. I was so overwhelmed in His presence, that I fell to my knees and begged Him to leave me as I was such a sinful man and not worthy to be in His presence or be the recipient of such a miraculous blessing.”
“Trembling before Him he reached out His hand to pull me up, gazing most tenderly into my eyes. He whispered to me not to fear. ‘From now on you will be catching men’, He said.
“I had no idea what He meant. All I knew is that He wanted me – me, a sinful ignorant fisherman. He was choosing me? To follow Him? Everything inside burned to follow Jesus and so I left everything and did.”
“What an adventure that began…!”
Peter sighed and as the moon was just rising and the stars were beginning to appear, he turned his attention to the boat, the nets and an evening of fishing.
“Seems like I’m right back where I started. Back to work – back to fishing for a living. I can’t make any sense of the last three years, and I’m done trying.
“Well, so much for the hopes and dreams. If Jesus ever wants me again, He knows where to find me.”
Part 2 coming soon…