Saturday 13 April 2013

John 21

The scene in our Gospel story is the Sea of Galilee just after the crucifixion. Seven of the disciples were there feeling probably a little guilty; only John had remained at the Cross leaving the others to feel a sense of betrayal. The main character in this story however is Peter, the man who denied the Lord and is now devastated with himself, a feeling which many Christians may have passed through. Now things are going to change as he meets the risen Christ.

When the chapter begin they are all wondering what is going to happen to them, all their plans and hopes for the future have been blown apart. There is nothing to induce a feeling of hopelessness so much as a time of tragic failure. Peter had wept bitterly after denying Jesus; he had been so close to the Lord for three years and failed Him at the last days. We may all have experienced a similar feeling when we have succumbed to temptation in a time of weakness and regretted doing so, realising we have let the Lord down.

What would our live be like if our actions were in line with what we said? How many people regularly sing and say words in Church and then go out into the world and behave in a contradictory way? I know clergy who recite the Creed but do not accept the Virgin Birth, or/and, the physical resurrection of our Lord. How shameful is that? Let no one therefore think ill of Peter, there is no one righteous, no not one.

I like the story of a Church where the congregation had just sang ‘stand up for Jesus’ and the Vicar had gone into the pulpit when two men wearing black hoods walked in brandishing guns. Who is going to stand up for Jesus here they asked. The choir ran out, the Wardens and best part of the congregation. The men took off their masks, put down their guns and said, ‘carry on now Vicar, we have got rid of the hypocrites.’

The disciples decided to get on with their lives and went out fishing, and it was the practice to go out at night using torches to scan the water, so attracting fish to the boat where they would then be netted. We are told that nothing seemed to be going right for them as they had caught nothing. But help was at hand.

Jesus was on the water side, saw their need, and went to meet them. The Lord will come to our help when He is needed too. The Bible is full of stories offering comfort and bringing light and hope into souls which are grieving. No matter if our condition is one of loss or failure, Jesus will not cast us off if we are repentant.

Jesus mad Peter realise his failure and still speaks to us in various ways. Often through a preacher who will have no knowledge of your problem, but the words he uses may have been given to him by the Lord to speak to your heart. Whilst God as a God justice cannot overlook sin, He will try to make our hearts feel we have offended Him, until we confess our betrayal of Him.

Jesus told the fishermen where to cast their nets and we are told specifically they caught 153 fish. This was thought to represent the number of different kinds of fish that existed, and is an indication to us that God wants us to go out and bring the gospel to all men and women.

The story tells us these men were in effect just drifting along when Jesus brought them back to be successful, and rather than send a storm to teach them a lesson for letting Him down, He tends to restore them by love. He cooked breakfast for them around a charcoal fire, like the one Peter stood around when he denied the Lord.

Jesus then had a personal meeting with Peter, something we should all seek, for it is good to talk privately with the Lord. Three times Jesus asked Peter if the loved Jesus, and three times He said feed my sheep. By that Jesus meant teach people the Word of God and what Jesus could mean to them. How we need to heed Jesus command, for the Word of God is not being taught in too many Churches, and is being vastly moderated, diluted and indeed twisted in others. Even within Churches immoral behaviour is being tolerated and accepted.

I once knew a Vicar who was so devoted to teaching about Jesus. He saw one of his congregation in a supermarket and went up to her, then introduced her to another unknown woman and said ‘this is Mary, she wants to tell you what Jesus means to her’, then left poor Mary together with the unknown woman.

Another time he was walking along a London street with a Vicar friend, and said the next person he met he would tell them about Jesus. They walked a few yards and there was a window cleaner up a ladder. The Vicar shouted, ‘come down I want to tell you about Jesus.’ The window cleaner told him to go away, or words to that effect, so when the window cleaner stepped from his ladder on to a window ledge, the Vicar took away the ladder and said, ‘now will you come down’?

Jesus would not want us to be so committed perhaps as that dear Vicar, just want us to tell a friend we go to worship Him at Church would be a start. Better still, invite your friend to Church.

But be there on Sunday and God bless you.

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