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I Go a Fishing

“Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.”

(John 21:3)

In order to learn from this verse, let's look at some other verses first:

“And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.”

(Matthew 4:18- 20)

We see in the verse above that Jesus had called Peter to leave his old life and follow him, and we see that Peter immediately obeyed and followed. In fact, for the next three years, Peter followed Christ, learned from him, and even preached and performed miracles in Christ's name. It is true that Peter had his ups and downs, but he did follow Jesus. Now, we come to the time when Jesus was about to be offered for Peter's sins and for yours and mine.

“And Jesus saith unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee. But Peter said unto him, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. And Jesus saith unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice. But he spake the more vehemently, If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise. Likewise also said they all.”

(Mark 14:27-31)

Throughout Christ's ministry, Peter had shown a tendency toward pride and stubbornness and here these characteristics came into full bloom. Instead of being grieved at what Jesus had plainly told him, he spoke against it and claimed that he knew his own heart better than Jesus did. As we see in the next passage, Jesus' words came to pass while Peter's did not.

“And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”

(Matthew 26:73-75)

Peter's statement, "I go a fishing" was made after Jesus had risen from the dead and had shown himself plainly to him. And yet, Peter returned to his old life soon after this. It is instructive to read what those who were with Peter said: "We also go with thee". You see, when a Christian decides to turn from God and head back to the world, others often follow and the damage is compounded. If we read further we see that "that night they caught nothing.". When we turn back from what God has called us to do, our lives produce no fruit for him at all. But here is a wonderful truth: God does not give up on us:

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

(Philippians 1:6)

Peter had denied Christ and returned to his old life, but God did not abandon him. Jesus appeared to the wayward fisherman that morning and said "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find" and guess what? When Peter and his companions obeyed his word, they caught many large fishes and brought them to shore. Obeying God is the only way to be spiritually productive. Then Jesus dealt with Peter in a manner that strikes me as amazing: He fed him breakfast! Jesus could have rebuked Peter immediately upon his return to shore, but instead, he chose to show him a simple gesture of caring. And then Jesus used this example of love to teach Peter that he knew Peter's heart better than Peter knew his own heart.

“This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”

(John 21:14-17)

When Jesus asked Peter if he loved him, Jesus used a word for love that is the highest form of love (a selfless, godly love) in the first two instances, and a word for love that is a lower form of love (friendship) in the third instance. In each case, Peter responded with the lower form of love. Peter learned that Jesus knew his heart and that Peter's love for God was not what it should have been. Peter still had his ups and downs (as we do) but he went on to live a life that glorified God and blessed others. Perhaps you have gone back to what Jesus Christ originally called you from and have discovered that it is unfruitful. If so, God has not forsaken you and is calling you back to him. Why not return to him today?

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