4th May

2014

Jumping out of the boat the second time

We don’t really know for sure when Jesus made His third appearance to His disciples after He rose from the dead.  He had told them to go to Galilee and they had obeyed.  But where was Jesus?  He didn’t show up on their timescale (he rarely does show up on our timescale) and so the disciples were directionless.  They were just hanging about the Sea of Galilee and – guess what?  They drifted back to their old way of living.  “Simon Peter said ‘I’m going fishing.’  ‘We’ll come, too,’ they all said.  So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing.” [John 21:3, NLT].  They were experienced fishermen but their experience didn’t help them when they drifted back to the old life Jesus had called them to leave three years earlier.  He never said that they should go back to fishing if things didn’t quite work out as they expected.  His call to discipleship is a one-way ticket.  No going back.  This doesn’t just apply to the original disciples.  If we find ourselves in a directionless state there is always the danger that we will just drift back into old ways of living – old habits, old ways of speaking, old ways of doing things that we thought we had left behind.  And if we do so, like the disciples, we will find it an intensely frustrating experience.  Once we have experienced the thrill of following Jesus, the old life doesn’t seem quite as fulfilling as we thought it was.

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DAWN BY THE SEA OF GALILEE

Then, quite unexpectedly, a figure can be discerned on the shore, just visible in that luminous violet-purple rose half-light which precedes dawn by the Sea of Galilee.  Silent, apart from the odd plop of a jumping fish – well away from the disciples’ boat.  This mysterious stranger on the shore asked these experienced Galilean fishermen the most insensitive question.  “Friends, have you caught any fish?”  The frostiness in the reply is palpable.  “No.”   Then this person – and what did He know about fishing? – told them to throw the net out on the right side and they would find plenty.  Strangely enough they obeyed.  There is something in the commands of Jesus which just must be obeyed, even if we don’t quite know why at the moment…  And they caught so many fish – 153 large ones – that they couldn’t pull in the net!  Finally, the penny dropped.  “It is the Lord!” “When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he…jumped into the water and swam ashore.” [John 21:5-7, NLT].  It was Peter’s idea that they go back to fishing.  Now that all looked rather stupid in the presence of Jesus.  The fishing was forgotten, as were Peter’s old companions.  He just wanted to get back on the path of discipleship, and get to Jesus.  This was the second time Peter jumped out of the boat to go to Jesus.  Sometimes we need to jump out of the boat to get back on track.  For the second time.  Or the twenty-second.  Or the hundred and twenty-second.  Oh, I almost forgot – Peter had another experience to go through before he was ready to do what Jesus had called him to do…