I understand betraying a hated enemy, buy how did I betray my friend? Not once, but three times! We were in ministry together to change the world. Where did I go wrong? He acts as if all is forgiven but am I really? There is something in the pit of my stomach reminding me of my fear filled cowardice. Maybe I need to walk away. I can quit. I’ll go back to doing what I do best.
Have you ever felt like a complete and utter failure? Have you ever said something to betray a dear trusted friend? If your answer is “yes,” then you need to take a fresh look at Peter and what happened to him in chapter 21 of John. “Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’” (John 21:3)
This was no casual sport or getaway time. Peter once gave up his career as a professional fisherman to be a disciple of Jesus. Now, Peter saw himself as a coward who betrayed his Master and dearest friend. It was time for a change. At least he could do one thing well! So he took some of the disciples and headed out in a nearby boat to spend the night catching a fish.
“So they went out on the boat and caught nothing all night.” (21:3) Nothing? Hour after hour of throwing heavy nets into the water and zippo! What a blow to Peter’s self-esteem! Can you imagine what went through his mind? “First I deny my Lord and friend and now I can’t even catch fish. I must be good for absolutely nothing!” Are you beginning to understand Peter’s dilemma?
It was near dawn and they were about ready to give up when a voice called in the darkness. “Try throwing your nets on the other side of the boat.” (21:6)
What? A typical fishing boat was only five or six feet wide. Why would someone suggest something so strange? Would throwing the net on the other side of the boat accomplish anything? Absolutely not! Preposterous!
But, Peter threw the net on the other side of the boat. What happened next is astonishing! The nets became so full of fish the disciples had to call for help pulling them in. At this point, Peter realized the voice on the beach was Jesus. Quickly, he put on his tunic, jumped into the water and swam to his Master. (21:7)
Wait a minute! Peter put on his tunic? In modern language, he was putting on an overcoat and jumping into the water. Why would he do that? Did Peter suddenly become modest? Of course not! But after betraying his master he was embarrassed and ashamed. Peter needed help.
It was dawn on the beach and as the smoke drifted lazily from the campfire you could smell the aroma of freshly caught fish. There was probably laughter and small talk just like the old days as the disciples, united again, enjoyed a delicious meal. Suddenly, Jesus turned to Peter and said: “Peter, do you love me more than these?”
“These? These?” Jesus was obviously referring to something. What? Maybe he was pointing at the fishing boats which symbolize Peter’s past life. Jesus was asking for a commitment.
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question twice more. Peter was upset that Jesus asked the question again. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know I love you.”
“Then feed my sheep.” Jesus then went on to describe how Peter would struggle as a church leader. Then He gave Peter a simple but profound command: “Follow me.” (John 21:15-19)
Three times Peter utterly betrayed Jesus. Three times, Jesus offered complete and total forgiveness. In one very special moment, Jesus forgave Peter’s past and restored his future.
Wow! Stop reading for a moment and think about what it means to receive God’s amazing grace!
If Jesus could do that for Peter; just think what He can do for you! Maybe Jesus is looking at you right now at this very moment. He’s looking deeply into your eyes as only Jesus can. “Do you love me more than these?” He says waving his hand toward everything you hold dear.
“Yes, Lord,” you hear yourself saying. “You know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus tells you. He then goes on to warn you that struggle will always be a part of your life. In one very special moment Jesus has forgiven your past and restored your future. But then Jesus gives you a simple but profound command: “Follow Me.”
Peter was offered a gift. Now, you have been offered the same precious gift of God’s amazing grace; what will you do next? How will you respond? What are you waiting for: A net?