I spent some time this past week reading John 21…such a tender chapter…
The disciples spend a long night fishing and catch nada…but the next morning…there’s Jesus on the shore calling them His friends and gives them a fishing lesson…a great one as they catch so many they can’t even haul the net in because the fish are so numerous. Can you remember a time where your labors had been in vain…and there is your Savior…on the shore…waiting for you…giving words of encouragement…words of instruction…words of life…you receive fullness…abundance from His hand.
As they get closer to the shore, they realize that it is the Lord…Peter jumps into the water to greet the Messiah…the rest row the boat carrying the catch of a lifetime. Once they all arrive, they see a roaring fire that Jesus has built and he cooks them breakfast, using some of their fish.
Can you imagine? An endless night on the water…working…and the disciples have nothing to show for their labors…they are cold, tired and sore…then Jesus enters the scene…behold the Provider…the Comforter…the Redeemer…tending to their physical needs…cooking breakfast…can’t you just smell it…there’s nothing better than food cooked over an open fire…even to me, a non-outdoorsy type.
If you are weary and feel that your best efforts have become null and void…know that Jesus is here…ready to enter the scene of your life…eager to warm you, feed you and provide for you…let Him meet you in whatever boat you find yourself sitting in…whatever shore you place your feet upon…He is waiting…row…wade…run to Him…do whatever it takes…even some water aerobics will do.
After breakfast, Jesus takes time to meet with Peter…as he had denied Christ three times…Jesus now allows him to confess Christ in triplicate. Three times, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him…three times Peter tells him that he does…three times Jesus tells Peter to feed His sheep.
Confession is hard…it’s difficult enough to confess once…but to be asked more than once…that is challenging. Christ gently and tenderly led Peter down the difficult road of acknowledging where he had been and where he was to go. I am so prone to want to run and hide…to admit/confess and then want to move along.
After the third time of telling Peter to feed His sheep…Jesus imparts a glimpse into this impulsive disciple’s future. Commentaries say that Peter was crucified for his faith but upside down because he did not feel worthy to die as his beloved Lord had died.
What would I do if Jesus told me a bit of my future…especially if it was not a pleasant one? I think I might be prone to do what Peter did…he turned and looked. He saw John and he asked Jesus a question I am sure all of us have thought or uttered countless times,
“Lord, what about him?” (21: 21)
As I found in discussions of this passage, there are at least two schools of thought…Peter was close to John and was inquiring if John would have this same journey OR there was some tension between them and Peter perhaps wondered whether John would somehow escape this future due to his close relationship with Jesus. Regardless of Peter’s motives for his question, Jesus’ response is key:
“If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (21: 22)
When life is smooth sailing…the cupboards are full, the kids are getting along, the car is running well, the weather is pleasant…you hear that friends of yours just bought a new house…or a car…or are heading to Aruba…or their child just received a full ride to Harvard…it is easy to do a happy dance along with them.
However, when the kids are argumentative, the car is in the shop, a third mortgage would be require to keep up with the rising price of walking into a grocery store, dread fills your heart when you think of the state of your house or your child’s report card or your waist line…is the happy dance replaced by one of self pity when you hear the same news from above.
I am definitely not equating a future that will lead to being crucified with the ups and downs of modern life…not at all…but I will say that our lives at times are the cross that we bear…Jesus is recorded as saying this in two of the gospels in connection with following Him (Mt. 10:38; 16:24; Lk 9:23;14:27)
I will admit that over the last few years, I have turned and looked…looked over at someone else and wondered why their life seemed so “perfect”. Why did it feel that someone was having a heyday giving me more than what I thought was my “fair share” of hardship? How is it that I could walk with the same Lord yet have a dramatically different life experiences than someone else?
“Lord, what about them?”
Jesus says the same thing to me as He does to Peter…”What is it to you Helen? You must follow me.”
I must follow Him…in smooth waters and during the crashing waves…despite what I see in every direction…in the face of what I term as just plain too much. I am called to keep my eyes on Him and not on others…
How I love this chapter…it reveals Jesus…His tender care, concern, guidance, mercy, redeeming love…the Truth.
Help me Lord Jesus, to fiercely follow You…
all the days of my life…