Wednesday, May 31, 2023

          We know that Jesus rose from the dead.  That is a cardinal belief in the Christian faith.  The cross was not the end.  Our Lord died but He rose again.  He made multiple appearances following His resurrection.  In John 21, Peter and some of the other disciples had gathered by the Sea of Galilee to fish.  John reported that there were seven disciples at the shoreline (John 21:1-2).  Peter said to the others, “I’m going out to fish” (John 21:3a).  If he decided to fish to enjoy some downtime or some solitude, that did not happen.  He quickly drew a crowd.  The other six decided to go with Peter and fish too (John 21:3b).  It was not a fruitful fishing trip.  Rather, we could call it a colossal failure.  John 21:3c reported that these disciples caught exactly nothing. Zip.  Zilch.  Nada.  What an embarrassing night for these guys!  The question that lingers is why did they go fishing?  What was Peter’s motivation? 
            Perhaps this fishing trip was a break from all that had happened with the cross and the empty tomb.  Maybe Peter was uncertain about where to go next or what even to do.  While the fish did not bite and by fishing standards, the night was a disaster, something good did happen.  John gave us the rest of the story.  “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’  ‘No,’ they answered.  He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (John 21:4-6).  At the end of this disastrous night of fishing, Jesus appeared.  He was there on the shore.  Anytime Jesus makes an appearance, things get remarkably better.  And soon, for the disciples, everything changed.    
            The Lord issued a simple, familiar command.  Try it again.  “Throw your net on the right side” (John 21:6a).  We recall that Jesus issued a similar instruction in Luke 5 when He first called His disciples.  At that moment some three years earlier, Jesus told the men “to put out into deep water” (Luke 21:4b).  Both times Jesus was engaged in course correcting.  There is a lesson there about how we often fail in our own strength and sight.  We often need the Lord to open blind eyes and to remove blind spots while He strengthens us to do whatever lies before us.  We need the Lord to show us the better ways—His ways.  He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).  We often face a choice in life to trust our ways or His, to lean into Him or to withdraw from Him. 
            John reported that when the disciples cast their nets on the right side that “they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish” (John 21:6b).  Suddenly, these disciples went from empty nets to full nets, from scarcity to abundance, from nothing to something.  The Lord is the greatest difference-maker of all time.  In an instant, the disciples recognized that it was Jesus who was on the shore and gave them commands.  “It is the Lord” (John 21:7).  With one command, Jesus turned this ordinary fishing trip into something sacred and special.  Peter and his fellow disciples learned yet another lesson in faith and trust.  They learned to listen when Jesus had something to say.  We live in noisy times.  We can, by choice, be bombarded by non-stop communications from multiple sources.  We can drown in a sea of meaningless noise.    
            We can easily lose the sound of the Lord’s voice.  We can lose sight of Him in a crowded, noisy and busy life.  We often have to withdraw to hear, see or even find the Lord again.  Like Peter, we may have to go fishing.  Perhaps literally.  Or perhaps, we simply choose to step aside and retreat to a place that is special, familiar and comfortable so we can see and hear the Lord again.  In his own words, Peter said “I’m going out to fish” (John 21:3a).  We might choose to take a walk, turn off the distractions, silence the phone or unplug from screens.  It can be hard to walk with the Lord if we are torn in an assortment of different directions.  It can be even harder to hear the Lord with all kinds of noise grabbing our ears.  To say what Peter said just might be a great act of faith and discipleship.  It might be a courageous decision to step away from what may be raging around us.  And when we step away, we may find that the Lord has something to say to us or to show us.  Have a great day!                    

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