Whenever we go through times and circumstances that push us out of our regular patterns in life, as humans, we tend to get uncomfortable. How often I’ve heard people say, as I’ve visited with them in the hospital, “I just want to get back to normal, I’m sick of this place.” It seems to be an ingrained reaction on our part – when life is hard and confusing, we just want to get back to something familiar so we can try and reorient ourselves. It’s a typical response.
We’re going to be reading about Jesus’ disciples doing just that as we finish our study in the Gospel of John this Sunday. We’ll be reading John 21:1-25. Peter and six other disciples don’t quite know what to do with themselves after all of the events that unfolded in Jesus’ execution and then mind-blowing resurrection. They probably had hoped that the skies would rain fire and Rome would fall into the earth…but none of that stuff happened. Instead, life seemed to just go on and Jesus just kept popping up unexpectedly, and I’m sure it all felt really strange. It makes sense to me that they wanted to get back to what they knew how to do, fishing.
However, now that Jesus is on the loose, things done under their own initiative seem to result in frustration. Have you ever experienced that? Have you ever not known what God is up to and so in exasperation just decided to go back to old habits and patterns you had before meeting Christ? What were the results, and what can we learn from that?
Jesus’ interaction with Peter is, to me, one of the most moving scenes in all of the Gospels. Three times Pete denied Jesus behind his back, now three times he’s given the opportunity to express his love to his face. Do you think Jesus is trying to shame Peter, or bring him closure? How could this interaction provide a sense of closure to Peter? What can that tell us about our own failures and Jesus’ intent?
Jesus doesn’t just let Peter say words, he commissions him with a way of demonstrating his love for Christ. How does Jesus indicate a love for him is revealed? Is it something we can do in isolation, and if not, what does that tell us about our Christian priorities?
Jesus finishes his instruction to Peter by commanding him to follow. What does it mean to you to follow Jesus? What does it look like for a 21st Century American Christian? When Peter looks around and sees the DWJL (disciple whom Jesus loved), he tries to bring his story into the mix by way of comparison. But in v22, Jesus nips that in the bud. “What is his story to you? You follow Me!” What can we learn about comparing ourselves to other believers in our attempt to follow Jesus?
I’ve really loved this gospel. I hope it’s not the last time I teach through it – there was so much left unturned. We barely scratched the surface. With that in mind, I truly hope this isn’t the last time you explore the Gospel of John – go there often, and go looking for Jesus in those words.
See y’all Sundee!