Who’s your favorite person in the Bible? I know a lot of people who choose the same one as me: Peter.
Why do I like him so much? Because he’s just like us – so human. Don’t you have those times when you open your mouth and insert your foot? I do! Peter was the one of whom Jesus said He would build His church (Matthew 16:18), even though Jesus knew that Peter certainly was not perfect, and would fail often until he fully grasped just who Jesus was.
Peter was the one who was very sure of himself (i.e. prideful and self-righteous) when he boasted to Jesus that no matter what, he would never leave His side (Matthew 26:35); but then when push came to shove, Peter lied about knowing Jesus not once, not twice, but three times (Luke 22:54-62)!
In John 21, we see that Peter and the disciples are by the Sea of Galilee. This was after Jesus’ death and resurrected appearance on a couple different occasions.
But why exactly were the disciples there at that particular time, and what were they supposed to be doing? We’re not sure, but it does say in Mark 14:28, 16:7, that Jesus had told them He was going to be meeting them there.
However at this moment, the disciples are by themselves.
Suddenly it says in John 21:3 that Peter decides he’s going fishing, so he and the others head out to the boat.
Think about this for a minute: Why did Peter all of a sudden choose to go fishing? What were the thoughts that were swimming (pun intended) around in Peter’s head?
You know, I’d never really thought much of that passage of Scripture before, until I read a devotional by Ken Gire entitled “Intimate Moments.” In that devotional he brought up something I want you to contemplate.
Did perhaps Peter decide suddenly to go fishing because he’d just been so wracked with guilt from his mess-ups that he decides he just better go back to what he used to do before Jesus came into his life, i.e. be a fisherman?
How defeated he must’ve felt when he would start remembering his pridefulness, and ultimately his failures.
Did he start thinking about all the times previously when Jesus was with them on the Sea of Galilee and how different things were then? How he used to be filled with so much hope instead of feeling beat-up?
How about you? Do you keep hashing over and over the mess-ups that you’ve accomplished? Do you at times feel like you’ve failed in what you believe God has called you to do?
Maybe those times when you’ve not stood up for what’s right? Then you feel wracked with guilt and keep beating yourself up over and over again.
Have you had those times? I know I have!
But here’s where it gets good. Because when Peter is on that fishing boat in John 21, perhaps rehashing his mess-ups, all of a sudden Jesus appears on the shore, tells them how to catch a pile of fish, and then cooks them breakfast.
When they’ve finished eating, Jesus lovingly reminds Peter of what his true calling is to be: A fisher of men, not of fish (John 21:4-19).
In other words, don’t give up, Peter.
You know the rest. Peter went on to be a fiery preacher for his Lord (Acts 2:14-42). His guilt was removed; he knew he was forgiven and could start fresh again.
So my question for you: Have you allowed yourself to sink deeper and deeper into the pit of self-guilt and shame because you feel you have let Jesus down one time too many?
Get back up and get back on the bus! Romans 8:1 says there’s no condemnation in Christ Jesus! Quit letting yourself get beat up by the enemy, get on your knees to Jesus, and then start over. It’s never too late!