Fishin': Day 12
"Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead." - John 21:2-14
Peter is hard not to like. He puts his foot in his mouth constantly, his emotions swing drastically, and he talks big but can’t back it up. Not that these are admirable qualities in themselves, but they present Peter as a real person, just as human as any of us. By showing the ordinary humanity of this future leader of the church, the gospel narratives ring with authenticity. But his is not the only humanity that tolls through the Gospels.
After all the staggering drama of the cross and resurrection, Peter needs to clear his head. He says, “I am going fishing” (21:3). A trade he knows, a boat he is comfortable in, a sea that he grew up on. After catching nothing all night, a man on the beach yells out advice, “Try on the other side of the boat!” When they do, they haul in an absurd amount of fish. Peter thinks, “Wait a minute, I’ve seen this before…” And indeed, it was with this same miracle that Jesus first called his disciples (Luke 5).
The first time, Peter’s reaction was quite different. He fell down at Jesus’ feet and said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Lk 5:8). This time, however, it’s a different story. “It is the Lord!” John cries out. And without a moment’s hesitation, Peter throws himself off the boat in Forrest Gump-like fashion to go and meet his risen Friend. No longer did he care for the fish or his friends or his boat. In his joy he forgot it all.
So what is it about this Man on the beach that turns Peter into such a giddy child? We are shown when they arrive at the beach. Here is the Lord of Creation, who commands even the fish of the sea, who has just recently won the most cosmic battle of history, sitting in the sand, stoking a charcoal fire, frying up a few fish and warming a loaf of bread. “Come and have breakfast,” he says (21:12). And so they sit around the fire, gazing at their divine Friend while he serves them breakfast.
This is why Jesus meant so much to Peter. In the Incarnation, God had become every bit as human as Peter, though without sin. God is no longer just an invisible, transcendent being in the sky, but a being so human that he can clean a fish, stoke a fire, and relax on the beach. The scene reminds us that the resurrection changed none of that. Jesus did not resurrect and suddenly lose his humble humanity. He is still every bit as “God-with-us” as he was in the stable. His new authority did not, in this sense, go to his head.
And still today he relates to us the same way. Though almighty, he is approachable; though holy, he speaks with sinners; though exalted, he dwells with losers; though just, he justifies the ungodly. God in Christ is altogether knowable by man. Man in Christ is altogether known by God.
This blog is written by the authors of Cypress Press, meant for the creative illustration and application of God's Word.