The Receptive Life

"We are beggars; this is true." (Martin Luther)

Forty Day Encounter With Christ: Day 39

He Knows My Need for Restoration

Scripture Reading:  John 21:1-25

Meditation

Simon Peter, more than any of the other disciples, is praying for a second chance.

Peter’s the one the Master called ‘Rock’ and yet he was the one who crumbled so easily in the High Priest’s courtyard. When a servant girl asked him about his relationship with Jesus, he cracked. Three times he denied knowing his Master. The Rock, now in pieces, longs to have the Savior put his life back together.

As Simon sits between hope and despair, he’s not looking for redemption; he knows that Jesus took his sin with him to the cross. He’s not even looking for proof of the resurrection; there’s been plenty of evidence for that:  empty tomb; eyewitness accounts; and even physical appearances by the Messiah marked and certified by the scars. What he’s looking for is restoration, a return call to the ministry of his Master. He’s wondering if there is any way that he will be able to play some type of role in the Messiah’s divine drama.

After his denial, he’s no longer expecting to be cast in any principal part. He would be elated with a supporting role. For Peter, any part will do:  bit, behind the scenes, chorus. He just wants to be involved in the ongoing storyline of the kingdom of God. But only Jesus can give him that. And until Simon knows how the play will be cast, he does what he knows best. He goes back home to the Sea of Galilee and casts his nets.

Simon Peter announced, “I’m going fishing.”

The rest of them replied, “We’re going with you.” They went out and got in the boat. They caught nothing that night. When the sun came up, Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognize him.1

After three years with Jesus, Simon Peter finds himself back where he started—fishing. As he throws and draws his nets, Simon doesn’t know if he’s still a fisher-of-men or whether he’s denied himself right back into being a fisherman.

In truth, he hasn’t done very well at either. His spirit is as empty as his nets.

But, just as he promised, Jesus meets Simon Peter at the place where it all began. As Peter and the other disciples are fishing in the early morning hours, Jesus stands on the shore and yells out to them.

“Good morning! Did you catch anything for breakfast?”

They answered, “No.”

He said, “Throw the net off the right side of the boat and see what happens.”

They did what he said. All of a sudden there were so many fish in it, they weren’t strong enough to pull it in.2

All of a sudden, so many fish. This is exactly how it all started three years ago. After that first miraculous boatload of fish, Jesus invited them to become fishers of men. Without hesitation, they all left their nets and followed him.

Just like the very first catch of fish, this miracle nets a response. Simon Peter, always the first disciple to jump in, dives into the water and swims the hundred yards toward Jesus. When he reaches the shore, he finds Jesus cooking breakfast on a wood fire. Jesus invites the disciples to eat but the smell of the fire evokes a burning memory for Peter.

The smoke of the courtyard denial still clings to him and he still clings to it.

After breakfast, Jesus pulls Peter aside and asks him,

“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”3

Under the sharp point of the question is the barb of comparison—“more than these.” The hook catches the meaty part of Peter’s pride and he remembers his presumptuous words. Before the rooster crowed in the courtyard, he had boasted about his fidelity, pointing his braggadocios finger at the others while singling himself out.

“Even if everyone else falls to pieces on account of you, I won’t.”

“Don’t be so sure,” Jesus said. “This very night, before the rooster crows up the dawn, you will deny me three times.”

Peter protested, “Even if I had to die with you, I would never deny you.”4

As they continue to talk, Jesus asks Peter two more times about the depth of his love. Unlike the denial in the courtyard, Peter crows three times from the depths of his heart.

“Yes, Master, you know I love you.”5

With each response, Jesus gives restoration. He makes Peter an under-shepherd. He tells him to feed the lambs. But just as the sheep are to follow the shepherd, so also the under-shepherd is to follow the Good Shepherd.

Jesus warns Peter of what is to come.

“I’m telling you the very truth now: When you were young you dressed yourself and went wherever you wished, but when you get old you’ll have to stretch out your hands while someone else dresses you and takes you where you don’t want to go.”

He said this to hint at the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. And then he commanded, “Follow me.”6

Simon’s been restored. Once again he’s to leave his nets but this time he’ll take up the Shepherd’s staff. Where Jesus leads, Simon is asked to follow. And though the way will lead through the valley of the shadow of death, Jesus assures Peter that the Father will be glorified and that one day he will bring him to dwell in the house of the Lord, restored forever.

Reflection

In what ways are you longing for restoration in your relationship with Christ?

When Jesus says, “You—Follow me!” what does that mean? Where is he asking you to go?

During the forty days after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter wasn’t sure if he was still a fisher of men or a fisherman. Have you ever been confused about your spiritual calling?

How has Christ restored you?

Prayer

Father,

I need more than a second chance; I need restoration.

Like Simon Peter, I’m trying to figure out my role in the kingdom. I feel like that there are so many things that I have done that would disqualify me from being a follower of Christ. If I haven’t denied your Son with my words, I’ve betrayed him with my heart. Like Peter, the Rock, my faith and public witness have crumbled so many times. I’m in pieces and I find myself right back where I started, waiting for your Son to speak words of restoration.

During this day, restore me. Show me your Son in an intimate way. Help me see all the ways that he is meeting me anew, just like in the beginning. Remind me of those moments marked forever in my spirit:  the call to follow; a life vocation filled with his presence; my steps of faith taken behind his; his provision along the way; all of the promises. When I’m confused about my spiritual calling, assure me that the hand of Christ is outstretched, that his voice is clear, and that he bids me to follow him. Where he leads, may I go. 

It’s in his name that I pray. Amen

1John 21:3-4   2John 21:5-6   3John 21:15   4Matthew 26:33-35    

5John 21:15    6John 21:18-19

All Scripture references in the meditation are marked by italics and are taken from the Gospel reading for the day. Those verses quoted outside of the chosen reading for the day are noted. All Scripture quoted in this post is taken from THE MESSAGE: Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 2000, 2001 & 2002.  Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. All rights reserved.

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