TO CHEW ON: "Simon Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.'" John 21:3
It had been a traumatic week or so for Peter. Jesus—on whom he had pinned his hopes for what...ousting the Romans and proving Himself the nation's messiah; at the very least carrying on using His miracles to outsmart and out-power His enemies—had been killed. But worse, just before that, he, Peter, had denied, after three years together, that he was in any way associated with his friend.
Now Jesus had reappeared, back from the dead, resurrected. It was wonderful but confusing. All the more so because Peter probably no longer saw himself as worthy of playing any role in what Jesus had in mind.
I can just see the disciples sitting around, discussing—What's next? What's the future for us, for me, now? And it would be at this point Peter would get up and say, "I'm going fishing." I see it as his way of saying, 'I'm going back—back to the old life of what I know, what I enjoyed, what I do well so I can again feel normal, useful, and not a failure.'
Trouble is on this night "they caught nothing." He couldn't even do fishing well!
It was at this critical point, early in the morning after the frustrating night of failure, that Jesus appeared again. He told them to cast their nets on the wrong right side of the boat. They did, and hauled in an unheard-of catch of large fish. And then Jesus invited them to breakfast on the beach after which He and Peter had it out.
Jesus pressed Peter by asking him three times: "Do you love Me?" The first time he phrased it, "Do you love Me more than these?" I imagine Him motioning toward the boats and nets as He said these. I believe He was asking Peter to be done forever with fishing.
I think of this story often when I'm tempted to get off task. I have, since I've taken up writing, had several what I consider God-given assignments that brought with them their share of discouragement. When those projects have felt overwhelming, or haven't gone well, or have appeared unlikely to sell even if I finished them, the temptation has been to "go fishing." For me, going fishing means abandoning the big job He has given me for something safer, more predictable, the kind of project I've had success with in the past. It means going back instead of going forward.
What's your way of going fishing?
Jesus presses home the issue with us like He did with Peter: 'Do you love me more than these? Then show it by doing the job I've given you to do.'
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to be clear on Your assignments and resist the temptation to go back to the safe, faith-impoverished pre-assignment life. Amen.
MORE: Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul
Today is the Feast of St. Peter and St. Paul. The day's liturgy begins with this collect:
"Almighty God, whose blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their martyrdom: Grant that your Church, instructed by their teaching and example, and knit together in unity by your Spirit, may ever stand firm upon the one foundation, which is Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."***********
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.