One Thanksgiving Day, my brothers and I were in the front yard shooting our compound bows at a small target strategically placed immediately in front of a big oak tree (which was supposed to catch the arrows should one of us miss). Shooting toward our back yard, we took turns with the two different bows. One of my brothers took a shot and it missed the target. Instead of lodging in the oak tree, it ricocheted off the tree’s trunk, zoomed through the 4 1/2 foot tall chain-link fence, and lodged into my 6 month old Beagle’s right hindquarter. Sugar (my dog) yelped torturously, and I screamed her name at the top of my lungs. Losing all fine muscle control, I ran as fast as I could, arms flailing and legs tripping. I had jumped that fence a thousand times. I was pretty graceful at it, honestly. But this time, it didn’t work out for me so smoothly. I grabbed the fence with my hands, swung up my feet as I had done countless times before, and ended up doing some kind of a twisting front flip. I busted my butt… but I jumped right up and ran to see Sugar. [By the way, the tree had taken most of the speed off of the arrow and Sugar was just fine. It sounded and looked a lot worse than it actually was.] I was so consumed with getting to my wounded dog that my muscles were shaking. My nerves were jittering, and given that I flopped over the fence only two feet away from the open gate, my reasoning skills apparently were suffering as well. I didn’t care. I just wanted to be with Sugar.
The second lesson we learn from John 21 is that Peter had that kind of an urgency to be with his Savior. Picking up where we left off in the last blog, Peter was depressed and discouraged. He had seen Jesus since the resurrection, but his hypocrisy and failure had yet to be discussed between him and his Lord. He had been out on a boat fishing with his friends all night long, and hadn’t caught a single fish – I’ll bet that for Peter, this was a flashback to Luke 5, when Jesus first called him and the Sons of Zebedee as the first disciples. In fact, the Sons of Zebedee were with him this night! Eerie. I wonder if Peter had some deja vu going on (or maybe it was just a glitch in the matrix). Can you imagine their conversation?
“Wouldn’t it be crazy if Jesus showed up and told us to cast our net on the other side and we caught a bunch of fish?!”
Well guess what… Jesus showed up. At first, they didn’t recognize him. “Cast your net on the other side!” the man hollered. So they did, and to their surprise, they hauled in a load of fish! Peter was still lost in his depressive episode, however, so he didn’t put two-and-two together. But John did. “Peter, that’s Jesus!” exclaimed John.
Peter looked up and it hit him like a ton of bricks. It was Jesus! He was so excited, all he could think to do was to tie his clothes on and jump into the water. Interestingly enough, John (the author of this Gospel) used the same word to describe Peter jumping into the water as Jesus used for casting the net on the other side of the boat: ballō. My Holman Christian Standard Bible translates Peter’s action as having “plunged into the sea.” The old King James Version says he “did cast himself” into the waters. I don’t think Peter’s entrance into the water was a perfect 10. I don’t think he formed a nice cannon-ball, or executed a calculated toe-touch pivoting dive. I think it was sloppy. I get the feeling that at the sight of Jesus, he lost his fine muscle control, and just didn’t care. I think it might have looked a lot like my embarrassing flip-flop fence hurdle.
In verse 8, we see that the boat was only about a hundred yards away from the shore, where Jesus was standing. It would have only taken a few minutes for the boat to row ashore. But that was too long for Peter. He had a sense of urgency for the Savior. He wanted to be with his Lord NOW. Two minutes from now wouldn’t cut it. And he could not have cared any less what everyone else thought of him, or how ridiculous he must have looked, flopping into the water like that. It just didn’t matter.
When is the last time I was so enamored by my Savior that I couldn’t wait another minute before approaching Him? I know that when crises strike, often we fall to our knees in desperation. But what about when God just shows up? Do we even recognize that it is Him who is revealing Himself for our benefit? Or do we chalk it up to serendipity? Are we too inwardly reflective to recognize our Lord’s voice, or to distinguish His presence from another’s?
I believe that God shows Himself to us very often. I believe that He is providential. That He acts in time and space on our behalf. But I think we often miss it. Perhaps we’re too consumed with our personal failure to realize that God still loves us. Perhaps we’re too caught up in the pleasantries of our past or in our spiritual “glory days” to recognize that God is doing something fresh and exciting right now. Perhaps we have not surrounded ourselves with friends who will point out God’s faithfulness to us when we can’t see it on our own. Perhaps we have lost our sense of urgency for the Savior.
Grace and Peace,