Sometimes when I read something, in God’s Word I have a difficult time understanding it. You may have that problem too. When I get stumped or confused I will turn to one of several commentaries I have or look in other translations for Words which may be easier for me to understand. It is amazing how when I finally hit that point of understanding I am overwhelmed once again by the power of my Living Lord and His Living Word. Recently, I read a passage and then I re-read it. It popped out at me with a fresh understanding and I have been looking at things with fresh eyes ever since.
We have just finished a six month study of the Gospel According to John in Sunday School. I was blessed with being the last of the Mountainside teachers for the conclusion of the study. I was preparing for this final week by reading a passage I know I have read many times before. While rereading it I browsed through a commentary and then another. I discovered a fresh approach that I never realized and it has hit me like a barrel of bricks.
The Disciples had seen the Resurrection of Jesus. Thomas had to actually touch His wounds before he could believe what he saw. Jesus revealed the Holy Spirit and empowered them to preach the Gospel and forgive others of their sin by His name. Wouldn’t you think after experiencing all of this, the Disciples would blast off into their lost and lonely world and begin to share the Good News? This would have been my first thought, but not these guys, they went fishing. John starts chapter 21 with the words; “After this” which when translated from the Greek means several days had passed. We find seven of the eleven are back in a fishing boat doing what they had done before Jesus called them to follow Him. I couldn’t help but put this into 21st century perspective.
How many times do we hear great sermons, attend great church services, see and feel the Holy Spirit move and then on Monday morning we are back doing what we did before?
The Disciples fished all night and had not caught a fish. Jesus shows up on the shore and tells them to throw their nets to the other side and the catch is so great they can hardly lift the nets. This is what gets me, John, the Disciple Jesus loved, knew instantly it was Jesus and then Peter, the old man of the sea, jumps out of the boat and heads for Jesus on the shore. The rest of the account is Jesus restores Peter and gives him a huge assignment. He tells him to get busy and take care of the flock. He tells him that it’s not going to be easy and it was going to get harder. After hearing all of this Peter looks over at young John and asks Jesus; “What about him?”
Jesus replies; “What is that to you?” “As for you, follow me.” These words probably stung a little in Peter’s ears, they sound like a pretty good rebuke to me. Jesus laid out a plan for Peter to give up everything and obey and follow Him. Remember, Peter was probably older, he had a wife, a mother-in-law, and was probably a successful fisherman with a lucrative business. He was also impulsive, after all, he jumped out of his boat more than once to get to Jesus. He was just what Jesus needed and we know from other accounts Peter obeyed and paid the ultimate price for the cause of Christ. On the other hand, John was young and lived to be an old man, probably somewhere between 100 and 125 years. He was given a glimpse of the future and the end of times. Both of these Disciples did what Jesus asked them to do. Each was given a similar but different task.
This is what really made me think. We have all been given a task by our Lord. Are we obedient? If we are obedient, do we look around and ask God how come I am the only one doing this? Do we tend to get so wrapped up in what we are called to do that we think our work is greater than anyone else’s? Do we want to ask God; “What about him or her?” The answer is right in front of us at the end of John’s gospel. Follow Jesus, listen and obey, and worry about the task given to you and not what others are doing. Satisfy God by fulfilling His command for your life and allow Him to use you in ways He may not use others.