Later, by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus again revealed Himself to the disciples. He made Himself known in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.”
“We will go with you,” they said. So they went out and got into the boat, but caught nothing that night.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not recognize that it was Jesus. So He called out to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He told them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it there, and they were unable to haul it in because of the great number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” John 21:1-7a
Peter tells the story:
I didn’t know what to do with myself – there was such a churning in my chest. I just had to do something I knew, something familiar, something that could take my mind off my failures and confusion. Jesus is alive but where is He? He’s with us one moment, showing us His wounds and then He is gone. What are we supposed to do with that?
When He first called me, he called me away from my fishing trade, said He would make me a fisher of people. I spent three years trying to learn what that would look like for me. I caught glimpses for sure – like when He sent us out two by two and we saw the works of God done through us. But now, well, I am back at square one. Any confidence I had that I could be a true disciple of Jesus has bit the dust. I betrayed Him in His darkest hour.
I wondered what it meant, that he was alive again. We weren’t all together the way we were before He died. There were no more miracles and no more bringing the kingdom of God. I wasn’t sure what the kingdom was anymore.
So I decided I was just going fishing and the boys said they wanted to come too. Fine by me. I was sure they weren’t feeling at the top of their game either.
Man, it was great just to be out in the water, smell the sea, just hanging out together. We weren’t catching any fish but I don’t think any of us cared.
Then some guy from the shore called out to us, asking if we had caught any fish. When the other guys yelled back that we hadn’t, the Stranger told us to cast out on the other side of the boat. When we did, we couldn’t even manage to haul in all the fish in the net.
John has always been the more sensitive one, affectionate, expressive. He always talked about how he knew Jesus loved him. Part of me wished I could be more like that but I am a man of action, not emotion. Or at least, that’s what I believed about myself.
John stood still, scanning the shore. His words dropped like a rock inside of me. “It’s the Lord.” He just knew it. Right away. I let the emotion of His words pass right through me, past my heart and into my feet. I gathered my cloak around me and started swimming for shore. I had to find out if John was right.
To John, Jesus was not a stranger, even with everything that happened. He knew Him as the One who loved him and that never changed. For me, Jesus had become a stranger. I guess it is more that I became a stranger to myself because I failed. All that I thought I was and could do – I was wrong about it all. So who was I? And if I don’t know myself, I can’t know Jesus. But oh, I still longed to find Him, to see Him, to be with Him…even though the shame almost swallowed me up. I felt lost without Him and without the cause we lived for.
After Jesus showed Himself to us the first time, John told me, “Peter, the resurrected Jesus is still the same Jesus, the same merciful and forgiving God that He was before the crucifixion.” I wish I could see it that way but I can’t get past myself.
· As you read the scriptures and the imaginative writing, notice the different responses of John and Peter. Which person do you relate to the most? Why?
· In your current life, are you experiencing Jesus more as a Stranger or as the One who loves you?
· If Jesus is more a Stranger these days, is there a sense of being disconnected to yourself – especially in this pandemic?
· If Jesus is more the One who loves you, what circumstance in your life do you need to let that love come in?
· What part of receiving the resurrection like John are you most drawn to?
Confess: Confess who you relate to the most. Confess where Jesus seems a stranger.
Longing: Express your longing to know Christ as the One who loves you. Include telling Him about what circumstance is making you doubt this.
Honest Acknowledgement: Tell Jesus how you are disconnected from yourself and how much you need the Spirit’s help to come home to yourself, to who you really are.
Receive: Imagine that Jesus is with you. He has heard everything you have shared. Imagine the look on His face. Listen for what He says to you.
Photo by Timon Studler - Unsplash