Have you ever blown it? Peter had. He was a big talker who promised to lay down his life in defense of the Lord. But when it came down to crunch time he choked. He denied Christ not once but three times. And he didn’t stutter when he did it, either. Have you ever blown it so big that you thought you were beyond a second chance? If so, the sixth post resurrection saying of Christ is for you. First, let me set the stage from John 21:1-3:
Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
Peter returned to fishing, but not as a recreational get away. The Greek construction of the sentence indicates that Peter was returning to fishing as his vocation. He went back to his roots and his comfort zone. Even though he had seen the risen Lord on two occasions, he (perhaps) assumed that the entire discipleship experience was over. How could the Lord ever use him? But check out what happened next.
At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yardsd from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead (John 21:4-14, NLT).
I think its important to note that Jesus pursued Peter. That’s where the Lord had found him to begin with. Just a few years earlier, Jesus called to Peter and invited him to leave his career and his capital assets for the opportunity to serve as one of his apprentices (cf. Luke 5:1-11). Peter had given up on himself, but Jesus had not. He was (and continues to be) in relentless pursuit of quitters and giver uppers.
When Peter identified the Lord on the shore, the story reports that he put on his coat and jumped in the water. That’s a strange and often unmentioned part of the plot. Why did Peter put his coat on? Even mediocre swimmers know that you don’t put more clothes on before you jump into the middle of a lake! What is that all about? I wonder if rather than trying to swim to Jesus Peter thought he could walk on water to Jesus. I wonder if Peter was trying to prove his worth and worthiness to Christ, as if he could to some degree atone for his denial. To be honest, there’s no way of knowing if this is what happened, although it is strange that an experienced man of the water would put on a coat before jumping into the lake.
The point I would suggest is that sometimes when we fail and fail miserably we feel the need to prove ourselves, as though we are able to establish our own worthiness or even make up for our miscues. It doesn’t work that way. Jesus pursued Peter, but not to make him jump through hoops as if he were pledging a fraternity. He simply went to Peter because he loved him, and was willing to accept him as he was, denials included.
Tomorrow I’ll post a couple of more thoughts about The God of Another Chance. Thanks for visiting today!