When Jen and I lived in Michigan, pre-children, there was this one time when we were invited to a wedding. Kids, this was before Google maps and GPS and smartphones telling you when and where to turn. We had Mapquest and we liked it. We would print out the directions…on paper. (We were basically one step up from calling our AAA agent and getting a TripTik.)
The wedding was a few hours away, so that is what Jen and I did. We printed our map and set out. The directions were not great. Once we got closer, we got turned around. But in a lucky twist, we happened to see Jen’s boss, also heading to the wedding. Jennifer told me to follow her. (My wife is beautiful and intelligent, good with the kids and wonderfully organized (is that how you wanted me to say it, Jen?) She told me following her boss would be easier than stopping at a gas station. I believed her.
They turned right. We turned right. They looped around suburban neighborhoods. So did we. For another 20 minutes we followed them in a city where we had no idea where we were. As it turned out, neither did her boss. She pulled over. We pulled over. She came back and asked if we knew where we were. We admitted we were just following her. She replied, ‘Well, I didn’t tell you to do that.’ (I knew she hadn’t told us to. My beautiful, intelligent wife had.)
Eventually, we all found the wedding. Life oftentimes has a lot of twists and turns. I’m sure it felt that way for Peter, the once-again fisherman. From fisher of fish to fisher of men, back to fishing for fish. But if you think his thoughts were racing that night, let’s read on and see what happened at dawn.
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Friends, have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” (That should sound familiar.) So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had taken it off), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. ~John 21
I find it fascinating that Jesus was cooking them breakfast. This is post-resurrection and Jesus is cooking up breakfast on a beach. He’s cooking fish for fishermen. Fishermen that He had given a new job to. Fishermen that He had specifically told to follow Him and He would make them fishers of men (Matthew 4). Plus, He also helped them catch a large number of fish.
Even in the midst of our failures, Jesus is there, continuing to provide for us.
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” ~John 21
Much has been written about this conversation, about the specifics of how Jesus asked the question, to how many times He asked the question. The bottom line is that Jesus was here to reinstate His relationship with Peter and to remind him of his given mission.
Unlike Jen’s boss on the way to that wedding, Jesus is clearly inviting us to follow Him. The fact is, He’s leading us to another wedding feast.