IT’S A NEW DAY
Most of of us have seen a sunrise. In a movie, on television, in a picture. And some of us have experienced a sunrise in person. That moment as the sun starts to peak over the horizon and the dawn’s early light begins to fill the sky with colors. It signals the beginning of the day. The start of something new. A fresh start. A much-needed reset from the previous days worries, cares and even failures. I’ve seen a few sunrises in my day and most of them have been spectacular. Some of them have been welcome and some have been dreaded. Whatever the circumstances, a sunrises signals that the day is about to begin and no one knows what it will hold.
John 21 opens with Simon Peter and some of the disciples fishing all night but failing to catch a thing. But now it’s sunrise… and everything is about to change.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?”They answered him, “No.”
John 21:4-5 (ESV)
Let’s look at the first miracle of this passage… a group of fisherman admit they haven’t caught anything.
Here you have the disciples, after a night of fishing, with nothing to show for it. Then there’s this figure on the shore who’s voice they recognize, but they can’t quite figure out who it is. (Of course we know it’s Jesus) And He asks them a question that would have a bit of a sting to it. “Children, do you have any fish?” Of course Jesus softens the blow a bit by addressing them as “children” and their answer is a bit short and concise, “No.” But can you blame them?
Acknowledge Your Failure
My Dad is an avid fisherman and has had some pretty good luck recently. I love hearing from him after a successful fishing trip. Describing the water conditions, temperature, the bait he used and if he used his lucky tackle box. But I don’t hear much about his unsuccessful fishing trips. Because what’s there to talk about? You went out, fished and caught nothing. That’s boring. And for some fisherman that’s embarrassing. No one likes to talk about their failures.
But Jesus asks them this question and I think it’s important not to step past it too quickly. I think that all the Lord wanted, was for them to admit their failure. That things hadn’t gone exactly the way they planned. Because it’s only when you can admit that you’ve failed that you can start to experience a do-over. The disciples acknowledged their failures as fishermen and Jesus gave them a chance for a do-over. He tells them to cast their nets again, but on the right side of the boat. Don’t give up, don’t quit, try again. So the disciples do just that and suddenly the nets are overflowing and they can’t even haul in all of the fish!
6 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.
John 21:6 (ESV)
They were given a do-over and this time they experienced much different results. But then there’s a realization on the part of one particular disciple. In the passage he’s called the “disciple whom Jesus loved” but we know him to be John the author of the Gospel of John and this passage.
7 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.8 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.
John 21:7-8 (ESV)
The moment Simon Peter realizes that it’s Jesus on the shore he grabs his lucky fishing coat and “throws himself” into the water and starts swimming for the shore. As one preacher I heard put it, “I’m here… Jesus is way over there… UNACCEPTABLE!” You see Peter had a history of making rash decisions and foolish promises. A long history. So over the next few posts we’re going to take a look at a few of those passages and really start getting a grip on why this was not the first time that Peter found himself in deep water.