Later, by the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus showed himself again to the disciples. This is what happened. Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples of Jesus were together. Simon Peter said to the others, “I’m going fishing.” They told him, “We’re going with you.” They went out in a boat but didn’t catch a thing that night. As the sun was rising, Jesus stood on the shore. The disciples didn’t realize that it was Jesus. Jesus asked them, “Friends, haven’t you caught any fish?” They answered him, “No, we haven’t.” He told them, “Throw the net out on the right side of the boat, and you’ll catch some.” So they threw the net out and were unable to pull it in because so many fish were in it. The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put back on the clothes that he had taken off and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came with the boat and dragged the net full of fish. They weren’t far from the shore, only about 100 yards. When they went ashore, they saw a fire with a fish lying on the coals, and they saw a loaf of bread. Jesus told them, “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught.” Simon Peter got into the boat and pulled the net ashore. Though the net was filled with 153 large fish, it was not torn. Jesus told them, “Come, have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared to ask him who he was. They knew he was the Lord. Jesus took the bread, gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was the third time that Jesus showed himself to the disciples after he had come back to life. After they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than the other disciples do?” Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my lambs.” Jesus asked him again, a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus told him, “Take care of my sheep.” Jesus asked him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt sad because Jesus had asked him a third time, “Do you love me?” So Peter said to him, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus told him, “Feed my sheep.
In the scripture above we see how Jesus appeared to the disciples a third time after his resurrection. The thing that strikes me is that he came to them when they were fishing. These same disciples who spent three years with Jesus, who saw him perform miracles, who were sent by him to spread the good news, who had already seen him twice after he had risen from the dead, these disciples were fishing! Now obviously, we don’t know what they were doing leading up to deciding to go fishing. Maybe they were bored. Possibly they’d just had a bad day. But what we do know is that they went back to what they used to do before they met Jesus, they went back to their old habits.
The wonderful part here is that God doesn’t just leave them to stay stuck in their old ways. He comes and meets them right where they are and sets them on a new course. Even though it took them a while to realise who was at work, Jesus met the disciples where they were, he didn’t condemn or chastise them and then he gave them a new mission. 2,000 years later, he still does the same for us.
While it’s easy to judge the disciples for going back to fishing instead of preaching and healing, we all are guilty of the same thing. It’s easy to fall back into old habits, even after we’ve been saved by grace. Even after we’ve been baptised and have been saved for decades, we can still fall back into what we used to do before Jesus showed us a better way. The disciples went fishing, you may have gone back to the bottle after a rough day at work. The disciples went fishing, you may have gone back to the casino after a period of uneventfulness and boredom. The disciples went fishing, you may be looking at porn again after a fight with your wife. The end result is the same. Instead of holding onto God’s promises, we go in the opposite direction.
Much like he did with the disciples, Jesus will meet you where you are and help turn you back to where you should be. And much like the disciples, it may take a while for us to work it out. While it’s unlikely Jesus will come down from heaven to personally guide us back, he does put people in our lives who will lead us if we let them. He brings the holy spirit into us that if our hearts are open to hearing, will direct our steps. He can engineer circumstances to stop us from continuing down the wrong path and reset us back where we should be going.
Sometimes, like he did with Peter, Jesus will set us on a new mission. Usually through a brother or a Christian leader, we will be corrected with love and humility then be put to task on a new assignment for his purpose. If we will perceive this to be God’s will then we must obediently follow it to completion. But our hearts must be open to hear it in the first place. Even though the disciples were not where they should have been, their hearts were still open enough to perceive Jesus’s presence and pursue him once more. The same with us we must always have open hearts ready to discern the presence of God in our lives and faithfully respond to his will.
Too often, we feel like we’ve drifted too far, backslidden too much or just walked away for too long back to our old ways to ever come back. God tells us that’s wrong. We’re never so far removed from the love of Christ that he can’t reach us. All we have to do is listen and obey. Repent and start turning back now. Being stuck where you are may be fun and easy for a while, but eventually you will feel the emptiness that only Christ can fill. He’s waiting for you. Not pointing a finger but reaching out his hand. All you have to do is reach back and let him reset your course to victory!