Monday, April 19, 2010

Something's Fishy

Today's greeting included a reference to today's lectionary text from John 21, a resurrection passage also about fishing. "I'm glad you're here," Brad said.

After the introit and worship, Keith from the Gideons Bible Society shared a couple letters from people whose lives had been transformed by Bibles left in hotel rooms.

Because it is getting late on a Monday evening, your faithful scribe will cut straight to the message...

Something's Fishy

Life has challenges. It's not "if" but "when"... and how will you deal with them when they come?

How many of you have ever said, deep down inside, "I just didn't think it would turn out this way? And the waves of discouragement and disappointment begin to bury your heart and your spirit... "I'm such a failure, such a loser."

If discouragement and failure don't get us, then the distractions of cash and comfort can be equally effective to get us off task.

So what's going on in this text?

It takes place after the resurrection. It seems that not knowing what else to do, Peter suggests that they go fishing. That is, to go back to what they were familiar with before they left everything to follow Jesus.

But these were the men in whom Jesus had entrusted the future of the church. These were men whom He had personally trained, for three years, for a purpose.

It is easy to put yourself inside Peter's head. "I didn't think it was going to end up this way," he could have easily been thinking. So, they headed off to go fishing. It had been his career, and for the time being maybe he could get back to it.

It wasn't as easy as he remembered, though. They fished all night, and caught nothing. This was not cane pole and bobber fishing. These were men lifting wet, heavy nets, and a night of fruitless efforts only compounded their discouragement.

The story echoed another familiar memory. They'd been down this path before, a night of frustration. Then this man Jesus said, "Try casting on the other side of the boat," and there were so many fish they couldn't even lift them in. It was Peter's call to follow, and in John 21 we have an exact repeat, designed by the Lord to bring back to mind that incident. Perhaps that's what you need, too... to remember that moment when you first met Christ.

What's changed from that moment to today? Have the needs of people in our world changed? Has Jesus changed? Or have you changed?

The details are very specific. 153 large fish.

Peter leaped from the boat into the water and swam to shore, and found Jesus there with a charcoal fire already burning. Brad suggested that the burning charcoal may have served to trigger yet another memory in Peter's mind, his denial of any association with Christ on the night He was betrayed.

Jesus then took Peter aside and asked, "Do you love me?" What He was saying, "I desperately need you. Do you love me or not?" In essence, when you go off mission, you end up with empty nets.

Brad quickly undercut any assumption that this was a "God wants you rich" message. But God does want us to stay on task. Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me more than these (fish)?" What are the fish in your lives?

Are you on task? Or is there a sign on the door of your heart that reads, "Gone Fishin'?"

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