Rarely in our lives do we have the chance to watch history unfold and to recognize that we are part of something that will change the world forever. Sometimes we live in the moment and later come to understand the impact of the experience on society. Other times the dramatic impact slows down the pace of life and forces us to stop and consider what the future will hold. We are living in one of those times now as the year 2020 enlightens us with a reminder that we are not in control of much in this world. As human beings, we boast of our intelligence and our might. We live in the worlds we have made and convince ourselves that we are in charge. This COVID 19 crisis requires us, however, to embrace a new way of thinking and to adapt to a new way of living. How we choose to respond will in large part determine the quality of our lives moving forward. What will we do? Will we resist the pull of the future or will we jump in and engage with what lies ahead?
John 21 gives life to an experience that some men had thousands of years ago after they experienced an event that would change the world forever. The death and resurrection of Jesus brought their world to a screeching halt, and they spent time considering what their future would hold. These men found themselves pondering whether they would embrace a new way of thinking and adapt to a new way of living or if they would, rather, resist the pull of the Holy Spirit in their lives into a whole new world.
Seven of the remaining eleven disciples decided to go fishing for the day, and like many fishing excursions, they caught nothing. As they were about ready to give up, a man called out to them from the seashore, inquiring about their catch. As they relayed their sad story, the man suggested that they cast their net on the right side of the boat. They did so, and a miraculous load of fish filled their nets. John realized the man was not just any man, but instead, they were seeing Jesus for the third time since his resurrection. He looked to Peter, and he said, "It is the Lord." The narrative reveals that Peter immediately threw himself into the water to get to Jesus. He jumped all in, embracing the future like never before.
Many interesting thoughts surface as I read this chapter. Questions like, "what is the significance of Jesus' third appearance to them?" Raised after three days. Peter's third denial before the rooster crowed. Questions like, "what prompted them to go fishing this day?" Just looking for something to do. Going back to the comfort of the familiar. Another interesting thought circles my mind when I visualize Peter throwing himself into the water. Rash behavior characterized Peter's life from the little we read of him in the gospels. His boldness often got him into hot water, but this time he literally chose to dive in.
When Jesus called Peter to follow him, Peter threw himself into the miracles and the mystery of Christ. Peter's experience with Jesus opened his eyes to a world he had never known before. A relationship with God filled with more than religion captured his heart, and he found himself following with reckless abandon. When soldiers arrested Jesus, Peter threw himself into a mess of confusion, at times fighting back while at other times running away. This day on the sea introduced a new opportunity for Peter. This time he threw himself into the mercy of Jesus. For the first time since his denial, Peter would spend significant time with Jesus over a meal. The other appearances allowed the disciples to see Jesus alive, but this appearance would allow them to see Jesus live - and would allow them to decide if they would live with him or without him. Peter threw himself into the mercy of Jesus not knowing what the future would hold. Seemingly, he decided the only hope he had was Mercy, and if there was no Mercy from Jesus there would be no meaning for his life.
How is your time alone panning out? Are you anxious or restless? Have you filled your days with virtual work and extended your hours into the evening? Eating more and exercising less? Have you taken the time yet to stop and to reflect on Jesus? This COVID induced retreat allows us to ask ourselves some challenging questions about our walk with the Lord. What have we thrown ourselves into? Miracles, mystery, mess? Or Mercy? Could I invite you to consider along with me using this next week to bathe in the Mercy of Christ? At this point we all could use His Mercy. At this point we all could share His Mercy.
The nets are empty. Loneliness, job loss, financial stress, health issues. Empty. Listen ..... "Cast your night on the right side ...... that's where you will find Mercy." Overwhelming mercy fills the net. "It is the Lord!" Will you throw yourself into the water and swim to the feet of Jesus?