What do you do to relieve stress? Do you have a default activity that makes you feel better? Maybe you like going to movies or the gym or shopping; maybe your activity is gardening or reading or just spending time with friends. Having read todays reading (John 21:1-19) I am pretty sure that the Apostle Peter’s was fishing! When everything that Peter had been working towards came unstuck; when he had denied his master and let down his friends; when the brashness of his words were shown up and his character flaws and imperfections were exposed…Peter went fishing!
Peter – that rough diamond – went back to his old life BC (before Christ)! He went back to the things he knew well…to pick up the pieces. But Jesus had not finished with him…he came to him again to remind him that the call that he had on his life was not effected by his failings; but in acknowledging his failings and humbling himself before Jesus – God promises to lift us up and show his strength in us, despite our weaknesses. But humility does not come easily. Many of us are proud like Peter and struggle to admit our weaknesses. However, without humility Peter’s pride would have remained a barrier to him really discovering the joy of being fully committed to Jesus.
Imagine the scene…a boat full of disciples…some fishermen and others not – enjoying to night air and relative freedom of being away from Jerusalem. But there is Peter, brooding in the stern; wrestling with a range of emotions as he relived the events of the last two weeks. How he must have struggled with the inner turmoil as he relieved his words of denial…outside the High Priests house while Jesus was on trial. The mixture of joy and humiliation to see Jesus alive, but to have misunderstood his intention from the beginning. And there he was again…on the beach…the large catch of fish…everyone knew it was Jesus – and they rushed to see him, but Peter hung back, embarrassed to let anyone know what he really was thinking.
But Jesus did not let Peter hide behind his mood…he had seen Peter at his best and worst…he knew him and he loved him, despite his imperfections. But he needed Peter to commit to what was about to come…so he asked him Peter, “do you love me?” Each time Jesus used the word “agape” (faithfulness; commitment; sacrificial love) and in response Peter said ‘philos’ (like a brother) …So Jesus was saying, ‘do you love me enough to be 100% committed’….and Peter said…’I love like a brother’…but brothers have their differences.
Jesus persistence pushed Peter to finally give in and say, ‘yes, I will be 100% committed’, and at that point Jesus restores Peter to the role of leader of the Apostles. Peter had to give up his pride; he had to humble himself before Jesus…just like we all have to acknowledge our need for Jesus, before we can discover the joys of following him. Like Peter, Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and sees the potential that can only be realised through faithfulness, commitment and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are all diamonds in the rough – but in the hands of the master designer – we have the capacity to reflect the light and love of Christ in both incredible and unique ways.