December 1, 2014

Breakfast with the Fisherman

The fisherman walked along the shore of the sea. Bits of rocks and sand slipped beneath the straps of his sandals, but he was too lost in his thoughts to notice. A few others walked along slowly behind him, the sound of their footsteps broke the silence that laid heavy between them.

“I’m going fishing.”

Peter walked toward the small fishing boat shored a few paces away. John sped up, coming alongside him.

“We’ll go with you.”

James and Nathanael helped Peter slide the boat away from the shoreline. They were an interesting crew. Peter spent most of his life on these waters. After the events of the last few weeks, he needed to return to something familiar. Something that felt safe. Something he understood.

They dropped their nets into the water. The sound of the waves gently crashed against the side of the boat. It was peaceful here. They waited. They checked their nets, but nothing was there. Not even the smallest of fish could be seen among the knotted rope.

Great, thought Peter, as he worked through the knots in the net. I’ve failed as a disciple, and now I can’t even do the one thing I thought I knew how to do. I’m a fisherman who can’t even catch one single fish.

The sun had just begun its ascent over the hills. The lights streamed down the hillside and rested on the sapphire waters. In the distance, a man walked along the shoreline. His words carried on the morning breeze.

“Children, do you have any fish?”

Thomas shouted back. “No. Not a single one.”

The man walked a little closer, his body a silhouette against the rising sun.

“Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”

The words felt familiar. What did they have to lose? They dropped their nets back into the rippling water. Soon, the sea was alive with activity. Fish smacked the surface of the water, twisting and thrashing within the nets. All seven of them tried to pull the net back into the boat, but it was too heavy.

Peter squinted toward the shoreline. His heart started racing.  John joined him at the side of the boat. He looked down at the net full of fish and back up at the man standing on the shoreline. John slapped a hand against the fisherman’s shoulder. “It’s the Lord!”

“Thomas! Throw me my robe!” Peter quickly threw his arms into the sleeves and before anyone could stop him, he jumped right into the water, sending a splash that soaked the robes of those standing nearby.

Peter could see him more clearly now. With every ounce of energy he had left, he headed straight toward this man on the shoreline. The Lord. The one he had rejected. The one who said he would make him a fisher of men.

He rung out his robes as he walked toward a charcoal fire situated a few feet away. The smell of fish reminded him of how hungry he was. The bread. The coals. The memories all began flooding back.
Jesus placed his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Bring some of the fish that you just caught.”

Peter joined the other disciples on the boat as they hauled the net to the shore. They laid them out along the beach, all 153 of them. Yet despite their large size and large quantity, their nets were still in perfect condition.

“Come have breakfast!” Jesus walked toward the charcoal fire and had a seat, gesturing for the others to come do the same. The sizzle of the fish on the fire was soon followed by the smell of breakfast cooking. They realized how hungry they were. Not just for the food, but for his company.

Though he looked different from what they were accustomed to, none of the disciples dared to ask “Who are you?” They knew deep within that it was the Lord. This was just like him. Peter remembered the last time Jesus asked him to lower his nets after a night of no fish. Same result. When the Master tells you to drop your nets, you drop them. He takes care of the rest.

Jesus came and took the loaf of bread and passed it around to the disciples. He then took the fish and passed it to Thomas who shared it among this unlikely band of brothers. They sat in silence for a while -each enjoying what their Lord had provided. Each inwardly treasuring the chance to sit down and have a meal with him again. How many times had they done this very thing over the last few years? 

Things were different now, and yet. in a way they remained the same. He was their Rabbi, but he was also their Lord. Peter would never have predicted that this was how the story would turn out that day he left his fishing boat and followed Jesus. Yet here they sat. Eating breakfast with the one who commands the seas. Breaking bread with the Bread of Life who was broken for them.

 John 21:1-14

Lord, help me to know where to cast my nets. I know that on my own, I'll come up empty. Help me to listen for your voice and be obedient to do as you say. Grant me the passion of Peter, to jump out of the boat and run toward you. Thank you for forgiving our shortcomings and for using broken people to accomplish amazing things for your name's sake. 


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