25 May 2011
Oops, The Book of Blunders tells about police who “stopped a teen-age girl in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, after complaints that a car had been seen going around her neighborhood in reverse for some time. The girl told police that her parents had let her use the car, but she had put too much mileage on it. ‘I was just trying to unwind some of it,’ she said.” Sometimes, especially when we’ve failed, we’d all like unwind life and go back to the way things used to be. Peter felt the same way.
After failing miserably by denying Jesus, seeing the crucifixion and witnessing the resurrection, he must not have known what to expect next. He wanted to unwind the miles and go back to the way things were before he became a disciple, when he’d been a fisherman. “I’m going fishing,” he says in John 21. The other disciples go with him, but that night they catch nothing. Peter wants a second chance at the old life—but as the philosopher said, “you never step into the same river twice.” Things always change.
Jesus appears on shore, but they don’t recognize Him. The Master tells them to throw the nets on the other side of the boat, which must remind them of the incident on Lake Gennesaret (Luke 5:1-11), when the same thing happened and they hauled in a miraculous catch. Once again, though it makes no sense, they obey, and God provides a second astonishing harvest of fish. This shows that when you’ve made mistakes, while there are no second chances at going back to the way things used to be, you do get a second chance at showing Jesus that you can be obedient to Him.
Finally recognizing his Lord, Peter does a strange thing. He puts on his clothes and hops out of the boat, swimming to shore to meet Jesus. Now, when’s the last time you put on your clothes to go swimming? Usually you take something off. I don’t think Peter thought he was going swimming. He’d just seen Jesus reenact the miraculous catch of fish—perhaps he expected Jesus to let him walk on water, like he’d done before in Matthew 14:22-33. But once again, you never step into the same river twice. When you’ve messed up, you can’t go back to the way things used to be. But you can know restoration.
Three times Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” and three times Peter said, “Lord, you know I love you.” Each time, Jesus replied, “Feed my sheep.” For each time Peter had denied Jesus, the Lord restored him. Peter couldn’t regain the old times, but he could know Jesus’ forgiveness and a fresh start. The same is true with you. No matter what you’ve done, there is a new beginning with Jesus. The trick is being willing to jump in with both feet. Do you need a fresh start today? Take Jesus’ hand, and begin again.