Pastor Rich drew part of his programme for the family service from John chapter 21.
“Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes (verses 3-6).”
Here we have the first instance of a repeat in the account. This miraculous catch of fish after a fruitless night of fishing is exactly the same scenario in which Simon Peter was first introduced to Jesus.
“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes (verses 7-8).”
Here we have in a sense a repeat, but also our (and Peter’s) first reflection. In the first encounter with Jesus (Luke 5), Peter figuratively runs from Him with the words “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” On this occasion, however, Peter runs to Him.
“As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead (verses 9-14).”
Here we have some stage setting, and another repeat. Simon Peter had been at a fireside when he denied knowledge of Jesus in Jerusalem. Now Jesus has brought Peter into the same situation. A fireside, and soon a series of questions. Peter perhaps reflected on this as he sat near the coals.
“So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep (verses 15 -17).”
Here we have the final repeat of the account. Peter is challenged to acknowledge Jesus. Not once, but three times, as in Jerusalem. He is not only called to bear witness of his association, but of his love! He in each case responds in the affirmative. His love (and Jesus’ for him) redeems him. Jesus reinstates him (if that is the correct term in the circumstance), but more importantly Peter is allowed to assuage his own sense of guilt.
On the shore of the Lake of Tiberius, Jesus reenacted the situations for Peter to reflect upon. He took these reflections, and turned them into a challenge of love and faith. In the end, He redeemed His disciple.
God often brings us into situations where we are called to reflect. He is there in the same loving and forgiving manner for us, as he presented to Peter. Are we to be like Peter and run to Him and His offer? And will be in the end accept His grace?
Thank you Rich for this thoughtful example!