1998-09-24 - I'm Goin' Fishin'
The Cross Series, Part 53
John 21:1-6 After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will also come with you." They went out, and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus therefore said to them, "Children, you do not have any fish, do you?" They answered Him, "No." 6 And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch " They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. (NAS)
Jesus has appeared at least twice to the assembled disciples. He has made sure through several messages that Peter was to be included in that number. But Peter, the now humbled, burly fisherman is still struggling under the weight of his denial of Jesus before the crucifixion. He had run to be alone with his broken heart. Great, convulsing sobs wracked his body, mind and soul. He had known that Jesus was the Christ, the promised Messiah. Peter had boldly promised to die with Jesus if necessary. But when the moment of truth came, the bravado crumbled and disappeared on the breeze to nothing. Once again, as in the garden, the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak.
Even though Peter was specifically called to be present by Jesus, the Lord had not specifically done anything we know of to reaffirm Peter other than to ask him to be there. As the days move along, Peter's discouragement returns. How could Jesus ever trust me again? I've blown it. He's done with me. We have all felt that heart break at one time or another. I'm sure that Peter felt, just as you and I have, that we were incapable of [fill in the blank]. Jesus meant more to us than anything else. In fact, He still does mean everything to us - perhaps more so than before. The Lord has reached out to us and assured us that we are still His children and friends. We are still useful to the Master. The assurance of knowing that we are loved that much gives us the confidence in the relationship to rest in it. It gives us the strength to try again.
Ps 32:1-2 How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! 2 How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! (NAS)
But Peter is not there yet. Thomas, who firmly rebuked the disciples for their foolishness, has been restored by Jesus. Peter has been called, but there has been no indication yet. Again, Peter decides that it is time to move on, before God's timing. He gathers those who will go with him, and heads off to reestablish his fishing business. He had ventured much leaving family and business behind. His heart is great. But he has been given a glimpse over the edge into the abyss of his old nature. When the time had come to deny himself, he had protected himself. The fear of punishment, the fear of the unknown had slid down and buried his desire to serve.
Peter's desire was to stay and serve. When that did not appear to be possible, he settled for second best. There would be many questions and thoughts of what might have been. Peter's pride was being ground to powder. Jesus had done nothing to stop Peter from going. Surely, as God, He had known Peter had meant to leave. We know that Jesus was not done yet dealing with Peter's proud heart. If you have ever been there, you know it is a humbling, frustrating, lonely moment. But God uses these moments like grinding stones to crush out the thing He wants to remove from us.
True and faithful are the wounds of a friend who tells us or shows us what we know is true but would rather not hear or see. This is where the dross rises to the top of the crucible heated by the flame of that tough love. Once on top, it can be scooped away leaving the remaining silver that much more pure and more useful to the Silversmith. The goal is for Jesus to see His face clearly reflected in the surface of the silver of our lives in the flames of the crucible of trials. When that happens, the lives of the people around us will be rocked and changed.
Lord Jesus - Times like this one are difficult to endure. But once they are past, they are a blessing beyond parting with. Hindsight shows us that You have been in control and at work in our lives all along. You have shown us in Peter's life that we are not alone in our failings. And that You are faithful to use these times and restore us to Your service. Thank You for Your unending patience with us as we are molded into more and more useful tools for Your plan. Amen.