April 26, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Richard Tay, Gracepoint Berkeley

John 21:1-3
“‘Afterward’ implies an indefinite lapse of time (cf. 2:12; 3:22; 5:1, 14; 6:1; 7:1; 11:7, 11; 13:7; 19:28, 38), but not always a long time. Since this event is categorized as Jesus’ third appearance to the disciples after the Resurrection (21:14), it must have taken place between the beginning of the second week and the Ascension.”[1]

Why might have Peter gone back to fishing even after witnessing the resurrection? Peter might have gone back to fishing because he wasn’t sure what to do with himself.  He had just witnessed some remarkable events, and he may have done this because he was confused and perplexed about how he was to respond.  The easy thing to do was to go back to what he was used to, something that he knows how to do.  The comforting thing about this was predictability and comfort.  He knew how to catch fish, and knew that it did not take the toll on him that following Jesus did.

What is the significance of the disciples going back to fishing and catching nothing (cf. Mark 1:16-17, Luke 5:4-11 )? The significance of this is the encounter that the disciples had when they first met Jesus.  At that time, Peter made his first act of small obedience by casting his net on the other side after a long night of fishing and catching nothing.  Through this, Peter made his confession that Jesus was his Lord.  Going fishing now and catching nothing again may have reminded Peter of the state he was in before he met Jesus, and probably reminded him of how much his life changed after having met Jesus.  Through this small act of obedience, Peter had the opportunity to throw his lot in with Jesus.  Jesus had given Peter a new name, a new identity and a grand vision for his life.  As Peter returns to his old life, the empty nets may have reminded him of the new identity Jesus had given him three years prior.

John 21:15-17
What can I learn about God’s perspective on my failures through Jesus’ interaction with Peter? I can learn that God is most interested in my relationship with him first and foremost.  He asks Peter if he loves him, as if to establish a foundation, a premise, on which to proceed.  It’s as if Jesus wants to first make sure that the most important condition is in place before proceeding to the next step.  This shows me that God views my relationship with him as the most important thing.  My value in God’s eyes is not tied directly to the things I do, or in other words, the ways I fail.  Instead, God is interested in whether or not I want to love and honor the God who has created me and wants a relationship with me.

How do I usually react to my failures, and in what ways do I need to change this? I usually react to my failures with disappointment and resolve to do better, or defensiveness and rationalization.  These are outlets of concern for the effect of my actions and/or pride.  I still place significance in doing things well and meeting expectations.  I need to change this to recognize that God is most interested in my relationship with him.  From God’s perspective, I am valuable regardless of what I can do or what I accomplish.  Instead of responding to failure with pride or defensiveness, which are made out of insecurity and pride, I should go to God with the situation surrounding my failure, and trust in God’s love for me and for his goodness for the situation I find myself in.

What can I learn about God’s calling to “take care of my sheep” from the fact that Jesus asks this of Peter, who had denied and failed him? The call of God to take care of his sheep is rooted in my relationship with God.  Once this is reconciled, God’s call to take care of his sheep is made without regard to past failures and mistakes.  As a defective minister, I’m amazed at the privilege of doing ministry, which is essentially loving other people.  I am especially amazed at the 55 recent decisions and the way in which our ministry can have a positive effect on others.  God takes broken sinners like me and has good work for us to do.  This ennobling of my life is unparalleled and certainly unmerited.

[1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for chapter 21.

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