devotional, Faith

Three

You didn’t think I would forget about our protagonist, Peter, did you? Never!

Okay, let’s go back to the scene. Annnnnd, cue.

Peter is fishing, but he isn’t having much luck. He hasn’t caught anything and neither has a single one of his companions. As dawn breaks on a new day, they hear a voice that they don’t seem to recognize right away.

“Children, do you have any fish?” (John 21:5, ESV)

Let’s back up the truck for a second. The first thing that strikes me is that He calls them “children.” Again, I’m not sure that the intention was to make readers smile, but I can’t help myself. I picture them out on the boat after a long night of unsuccessful fishing, and all of a sudden they hear a voice saying, “hey kiddos!” Although the NIV translation of the Bible uses the word “friend,” I think the ESV’s version is more accurate.

They tell the stranger they don’t have any fish and He suggests that they cast their nets on the right side of the boat instead. When they obey, they cannot even pull the nets onto the boat because of how heavy with fish they are. As soon as this happens, John shouts, “It is the Lord!”

When Peter hears this, he puts on an outer garment (evidently he was fishing in a less than appropriate outfit for greeting the Lord), and then?

“…he threw himself into the sea.” (John 21:7)

Wait.

Threw himself? Into the sea that had almost killed him?

Oh be still my heart. I love the imagery.

While the other disciples took the boat, dragging their load of fish, Peter jumped headfirst to get to Jesus. To be honest, I can’t imagine doing it any other way. How spectacular that moment must have been! Think about the way it came together to reveal the heart of God to all of us.

1. He was fishing, just as he had been when he met Jesus.

2. Jesus called to him, and he came immediately.

3. He threw himself into the water because he had firsthand experience with a God Who knew exactly how to pull him out, should he need help.

Isn’t it the same for us? Once we have seen the power of Jesus, we are much more likely to jump. Forget the fish and the nets. Who needs a boat? He’s here, and I’m going to get to Him now. The Greek word used here for “threw” means, “to give over to one’s care uncertain about the result.”

Immediately, he gives himself over to the One who saves him. Not only from the sea, but in order to preserve his soul for eternity. Wow.

And you know what? It makes me want to throw myself into the sea over an over again. Whatever it takes to get to the shore. Not because it’s safe.

But because He is there.

Although somewhere in the back of my mind, even though I know He’s there, I wonder about something else. What if He doesn’t receive me when I get to Him?

Do you ever feel like you crossed an invisible line in the sand? That you have finally pushed so hard that He’s just flat given up on you?

Remember at this point that Peter hasn’t seen (to our knowledge) Christ since the time of his denial. I wonder if he ever felt worried about what Christ would say to him?

Scripture says that when they got on land, there was a fire burning. I have a feeling this is just the way my mind works, but I want to know who made it. I mean, they were in the boat all night, so it wasn’t them. Are we to presume it was the Lord? I think He did, and I’m going to tell you why I think it might have happened that way.

The Lord asks Peter to go get the fish from the boat so they can cook them. He obeys. They eat their breakfast and when they are finished, Jesus turns His attention to Peter.

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

One. 

“Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

“Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

Two.

“Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

“Do you love me?”

Three.

“Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Why does Jesus ask Peter three times whether he loves Him? In one commentary I read, the author said it was the Lord’s way of forgiving Peter-once for each time Peter had denied Him. If that is the case, then I want to point out something that I find really interesting.

Here is the section of Scripture where Peter denies Christ:

“Then they seized him and led him away, bringing him into the high priest’s house, and Peter was following at a distance. And when they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them.” (Luke 22:54-55)

Waiiittttt a minute. A fire?!?!?!

Now that sounds familiar, huh? I think it’s entirely plausible that the Lord’s usage of fire in the latter example was to remind Peter of the night he had sinned against Him. Not because He wanted him to suffer and cower to his shame, but because He wanted to restore him in an unmistakable way.  Fire is used in the Bible to represent God and purification…how beautifully appropriate.

I think Jesus likes to set a familiar table (Okay, you fish and I’ll call out to you. Then, there will be some fish and a fire. I’m going to remind you that I’m the God of healing and restoration, and then you’re going to go and get some real fish. Men. And you’re going to tell them exactly what I did for you, because you know what it feels like to dive in, chase after me, and be forgiven.) and then invite us to dine on His spectacular grace time and time again.

Do you think you have sinned one time too many?

He says it isn’t so, love.

Do you remember the way the water felt when you couldn’t breathe and you were all arms reaching and breath gasping? And do you remember when I pulled you out?

He didn’t come to save us from the water. He came to baptize us with His mercy. 

And our job is to throw ourselves into the water in obedience.

He asks me over and over if I love Him, and as my lips say “yes,” He calls me to be a fisher of men. To feed His sheep. To remember the night He restored me and called me His own, despite my sin and my regrets. It’s almost too much to bear. Who, Lord? Who am I to deserve another fire?

Here is what I would love for you to consider alongside me today. Has any part of your sin kept you from the cross? Has there been an opportunity for Satan to whisper to you and tell you that you’ve gone one step too far and that you can’t possibly be restored?

This isn’t the way the Lord sees you, friend.

His desire is for you to dive deep into the water. Leave your nets as many times as He asks you to and run where He calls you. In that place, you will be healed. And when you have been, I daresay you will have a story that is begging to be told.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus…” (Acts 4:13)

Be bold, sisters.

Jump.

Immediately.

One.

Two.

Three.

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