What are you fishing for?

During my quiet time with the Lord recently, I read the familiar passage where Peter denied Jesus Christ not once, but three times.  I thought about that and pondered how I would have felt had it been me.  Just like Peter, it’s so easy to say what we will or won’t do until we are pressured and put in that particular situation.  Later, I read in John 21 after Jesus’ death and resurrection that one day Peter declared to the others, “I’m going fishing.” 

It seems that Peter had decided to go back to his old way of life….his life as a fisherman before He knew Jesus.  I can just imagine that this decision had a lot to do with the fact that Peter couldn’t get over knowing that he had denied the Lord and failed Him miserably.  After all, Peter was the one who was so eager to fight for Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane just days earlier when he cut off the ear of a soldier as they came to arrest Jesus. Peter was the one who assured Jesus that he would never deny Him for any reason.  He knew that Jesus had risen from the grave, but why would Jesus have anything to do with him now?  The brave, bold disciple had been reduced to a coward. 

But here we are again in a familiar scene.  Jesus is standing on the beach and looking out at Peter and the others who had joined him fishing.  Just like the first time when Peter met Jesus, their nets were empty. 

After Jesus calls out to them and directs them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, their nets became so full that they couldn’t haul in the net.  At that moment, John recognized Jesus and said, “It’s the Lord!”  In that moment, Peter jumped into the water to go meet Jesus.  I would imagine that he couldn’t get there quick enough!  He had assumed that Jesus would want nothing to do with him, but here is Jesus, standing there calling out to them….to Peter….as if nothing bad had ever happened. 

There on the shore, Jesus fed Peter and the others a meal of fish and bread by a warm fire.  After they were done eating, that famous conversation begins.  Jesus asked Peter, not once, but three times, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”  Simon replied, “Yes, Lord, you know I love you”.  And then Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep”.

Many suggest that Jesus asked this three times for the three times that Peter had denied Jesus earlier.  And while that might be true, I was struck by the last part of each statement by Jesus, “Feed my sheep”. 

Jesus was not surprised by the fact that Peter had denied Him.  As a matter of fact, he told Peter that it would happen.  I think that Jesus understood how Peter had been feeling.  Peter was more than disappointed in himself for denying Jesus.  Peter felt like a total failure and unworthy to be of service to the Lord.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt that same kind of failure in my own life and unworthy to be used by God.  But reading this passage in scripture reminds me that Jesus loves us unconditionally and is using our mistakes and failures to transform us.  He can take our mistakes and turn them into ministry opportunities.  He can take our failures and use them to increase our faith in Him. 

Jesus wanted Peter to understand that even in his failures, he was not forgotten by God.  And He wants us today to understand that for every time we fail him, He will still be there to pick us back up.  He is there to help us reach out to others and make a difference – even in our failures. 

Jesus has a job for each of us to do on this earth.  If we will believe and follow Him, He will provide us with the power to not just catch fish, but be fishers of men.

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