April 17, 2020 by Jennie Hession
Luke 5:1-11; John 21:2-8
What is one of your earliest memories of an encounter with Jesus? What was your experience with Jesus like? What happened? How did you feel? How would you describe the way Jesus saw you and responded to you? What was your response to Jesus?
In Luke 5, we get an inside look at Peter’s early encounter with Jesus. Jesus showed up one day on the banks of the sea – a place where Peter spent a great deal of time. Jesus entered Peter’s world – the place where he labored as a fisherman and earned his living – the place where he felt most confident. The place where he may have prayed often while looking over the water at a beautiful sunset or powerful storm. The place where he grew up.
Peter is engaged by Jesus after an exhausting night of fishing out on the open water – a night of futility – with no fish to sell or take home to his family. He was undoubtedly tired, smelly and ready to go home after a long night of work. Jesus speaks to Peter and invites him to get back in the boat, to ship out where it’s deeper and to let down his nets. And Jesus even tells Peter that he will catch lots of fish.
I wonder what the expression was on Peter’s face when he looked at Jesus and told Him that they had already fished all night and caught nothing. After his initial protest, Peter accepts Jesus’ invitation. Peter and his fellow fishermen were shocked, and I would imagine elated, when this expedition led to more fish than they could even hold in their boat. What do you suppose Peter would say about how Jesus met him personally that day on the shore? Peter’s experience with Jesus brings him to a new revelation – that Jesus is God, Sovereign over all creation. Peter’s response is one of humility and confession to Jesus – his Savior.
A few years later, shortly after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, we find Peter and several other disciples back in a boat, fishing through the night. And once again, “they caught nothing all night.” On their way back to the shore, they see a man they don’t recognize. The man, who calls them “friends”, asks if they caught any fish. After they answer “no”, he suggests, “throw your net on the right side of the boat and you’ll get plenty of fish!”
When the men discover more fish than their net can hold, John remembers. “Peter, it is the LORD!”
Jesus returns to the sea, to Peter and the others. And Jesus makes Himself known to these men whom He loves with another miracle of a bursting net of fish. In response, Peter dove in the lake and went swimming to Jesus – His Savior and Friend.
I imagine Peter remembering these special moments often, not because of the nets full of fish, but because of the way Jesus loved him and made him feel when he was with Him.