"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people!" Mark 1:17
LISTEN: Building 429, "Press On" (Wrecking Ball)
We have been reflecting on encounters with the Risen Lord this Easter season. Now we turn to Peter, who with six other disciples returned to Galilee (John 21:1-13).
We are told that Peter has seen the empty tomb (Luke 24:12), and twice he has seen the Lord appear to the inner group, including directly to Thomas. In Mark 14:28; 16:7 and Matt.26:32, 28:7; 28:16 the disciples are told that Jesus would go ahead of them to Galilee. Perfect! Because Peter couldn't wait to get away from Jerusalem, the place of his most dismal failure, his betrayal of his divine friend, Jesus.
So there they are. Where's Jesus? For the first time Peter speaks in scripture since that night everything unraveled and he denied Jesus. He says "I'm going fishing!" No waiting around for Peter.Too much has happened. He can't sit still. Remember how Peter boastfully said he would stay at Jesus' side to the bitter end? Instead he denied him and left, weeping bitterly. He had failed, big time. Not even the empty tomb, seeing Jesus -- could erase that pain.
When failure and disappointment hits, it's natural to go back to where we are comfortable. The Sea of Galilee was a second home to Peter. Peter had been a fisherman all his life. It was in his blood. That's where he was successful-- not this following Jesus business. But.....it also was the place where Peter met Jesus. It was the place where Jesus revealed the first abundant catch to Peter, and where Peter responded, "leave me Lord, I am a sinful man!" (Luke 5:8), and Jesus told him "Don't be afraid, for now on you will fish for people!" So many memories. So many dashed hopes. In the dark, on the water, filled with remorse, Peter finds himself stuck. The Sea hasn't eased his pain; it has brought it to the surface and he can't escape it.
They fished all night, that first, very long night back in Galilee, and caught nothing. It symbolized life at that point for Peter -- which amounted to a big fat "0." As the realization of futile effort hit, a "stranger" on the beach, says, "children, have you caught anything?" then some advice, "cast the net on the right side." So they did -- and the catch was abundant.
Jesus knew where to find Peter. Jesus knew what Peter felt. Jesus knew about about hard work and no catch. He knew the confusion and guilt in Peter's heart. So he tells Peter to do something counter intuitive. Through the nets off the right side of the boat. The side he hasn't tried. In this way Jesus begins the process of healing Peter's heart, helping him back up, and starting over.
At one time or another, we have all let someone down. Guilt has created barriers. There are people we haven't talked to, or issues we haven't worked through because of shame or pride. We aren't who we want to be, like Peter. We are ready to give it up, go back. It's just too hard.
The Easter season tells us that while we may give up on ourselves, God never gives up on us. God will find us, as he found Peter. God will work through whatever we are doing to show us the other way. A different way. It's the way to have the spiritually abundant life, rooted in the love and grace, the forgiveness of God. God finds in the darkness, when we are empty and shows a new way to live where we are blessed and become a blessing to others.
Where have you given up? What do you feel ashamed or guilty about? What feels empty?
God will find you -- for Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!
Prayer: "God, please find me and free me from whatever binds me. Break through the walls of guilt, shame and failure that keep me from living the resurrected life. Help me remember that even with my imperfections, you make me a blessing to others. Thank you!"