Conversations With Peter: Coming full circle

It’s been two weeks since I last posted, time got away from me and I did not spend the time I should have studying THE WORD.  I’ve re-posted the random blog articles by other authors that have piqued my interest, but I haven’t sat down and really looked at the next “conversation with Peter.”  I have studied it and thought about it, but I just haven’t sat down to put it into words.   We’re now two weeks post Easter, which is ironic, because, roughly speaking, this is about the same time as our conversation with Peter picks up.  As the topic implies, we’ve come full circle, both in this blog, and in Peter’s life.   I started this topic with John 21, and now we’re back to it.    This chapter gives me hope for a lot of things.   I’ve often stated that Peter is an example for me.   Damaged filter, flawed human being, often speaks before thinking, and failed Christ when the chips were down.   Yet, GOD in HIS amazing ability, saw through that and still used Peter to change the world.   It gives me hope.  I had a moment in the past two weeks in which I ran into some folks that I had…well….been in conflict with.   It didn’t go well, if I were to be completely honest, I sort of just acknowledged and walked away.  I honestly felt like a jerk afterward, but I didn’t know what to do.  I had a moment opposite of what I think Christ wanted from me.   To be honest, the ideal that Christ set was that of forgiveness and restoration, I’ve said and written I wanted that, but when the opportunity appeared, I wasn’t ready.   It happens.  Christ has a way of “ambushing” us with random moments like that.  He did it for the apostles, and Peter is the ultimate example.      We’ve come full circle because In John 21, Peter is fishing.  Christ had already appeared briefly to the apostles and some of the other disciples twice before and spent the evening with them and it is recorded that HE did many miraculous things.    This visit with Peter, John, Andrew, Thomas and Nathaniel, was a more personal visit though.   This blog will be a bit different from the original one that sent me on this journey with Peter, in that one, I focused on the last half of John 21, Peter’s restoration.   Today we’re going to focus on the first half of John 21 and just take a look at Peter’s actions and reactions to JESUS.

John 21:1-14

 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.[a] It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus[b]), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Let’s stop here for a moment and crack this open and look at it a bit deeper.   When I say we’ve come full circle with Peter, it’s the truth.   Peter’s call as an apostle happened three years before in the same way.  In a boat, fishing and having no luck and Jesus telling him to try again (Luke 5:1-11).   Now, it’s two weeks post resurrection, Peter had been to the empty tomb, had seen Jesus twice with the other disciples, and he was waiting now.    He’s probably not even sure what he’s waiting for, he just knows Christ has told them to wait, so he goes back to what he knows best:  fishing.   They spent the evening throwing out their nets and catching nothing, which is probably one of the most frustrating things ever for a fisherman, especially if that’s how you make your living.   I’m sure at one point someone even joked about that if Jesus were there,the fish would be climbing in the boat, but HE wasn’t….or so they thought.   When morning comes, and as they’re wrapping things up and preparing to come ashore they hear someone yelling to them from the shore asking if they caught anything.   Their answer is negative, and let’s be honest, they probably weren’t paying attention to who was yelling to them due to being busy, and frustrated, and just distracted with the stuff of a commercial fishing venture.   So when the voice says try again on the right side, they probably stopped and looked at each other…..maybe for Peter, John, and Andrew, recognition of the moment and a sense of deja vu happened and the net goes over the right side of the boat and BAM……fish just hopped into the net practically, in fact, so many fish, they couldn’t haul it into the boat and that’s when they actually saw HIM.   There’s a comparison here.   How often does that happen with us?   We’re in waiting mode, so we go back to what we know, what is comfortable to try and make sense of life.  Is that bad?  No, at least I don’t think so.   They did something in the waiting.   They did what they knew and I think that’s what God expects from us while we’re waiting for the next thing.   However, in the waiting, it’s often easy to get distracted with the everyday life things that we often don’t see immediately that it’s Christ on the shoreline calling to us.   That’s what happened with the disciples, and I think CHRIST understands that.   What happens next is equal parts funny, interesting, exciting, and gives hope.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[c] When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

John was the first to realize who it was and then clued Peter in.   As soon as Peter heard JESUS’s name he puts his coat on and hops out of the boat and makes his way to the beach.   The rest of them simply rowed back.   I understand Peter’s excitement, I get it.   While he’s had the same opportunities as the other disciples to see JESUS since the resurrection, he hadn’t been able to hold an actual conversation with HIM, to apologize or beg forgiveness for denying HIM.   Peter jumps out of the boat, possibly because he was anxious to finally say what’s been on his heart…..he’s sorry.   What do they find when the finally get to shore?   Breakfast.  A fire with fish on it and some bread.  Jesus knew what they needed after a long frustrating night of fishing.   A warm fire and food, HE was there to refresh them.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast. None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after HIS Resurrection from the dead.

So, they get to shore, Peter is probably standing by the fire hugging Jesus, and trying to figure out what he wants to say as the disciples approach and all give Jesus a hug (probably), when JESUS says, bring the fish.  Leave it Peter to be the first to jump.   Now whether he jumped into the boat and did it himself, or he led the effort to drag the net to shore isn’t clear, regardless, he was the first to jump.   Over zealous, anxious to please and prove his obedience, especially after a failure.   Boy do I relate to that one.   They drag the net from the boat and to the fire without tearing the net, which in itself seems to be a small miracle due to the amount of fish they caught, and then Jesus invites them to breakfast.   And now we come full circle.   The next half is about CHRIST reinstating Peter, and I’ve already written about that in the blog “Who do you follow”   This half is about Peter wondering about the next step.   Did he go back to fishing as a way of answering the question of what next?   Did he go back because it was comfortable and what he knew?   Maybe, probably, ask him when we reach Heaven.   Regardless of the reason, the outcome was that Jesus met him at the moment of HIS choosing and when it was right for Peter.  Not when Peter thought it was right.   When he met with Peter and the other disciples, he provided what they needed at the moment as well.   Breakfast.  Fire.   Practical things that men who had spent the night out on the water fishing needed.   That’s what Christ does for us.   Provides us with what we need at the moment and then when the time is right in HIS plan, HE restores us in  a way that leaves us no doubt.

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