Not Looking for Jesus
How easy it is to forget what Jesus told his disciples, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). When everything goes south and life gets tough turning to comfort in familiarity can lead you away from Jesus. You may turn to a hobby, a habit, comfort foods or pour yourself into your job seeking relief from the disappointments and difficulties in your life. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that even when you are not looking for Jesus, He looks for you, He reveals Himself, and He provides His presence and care for you to persevere in difficult times. Peter’s story teaches this valuable lesson.
More than two weeks after Jesus’ resurrection and after two appearances to the disciples, Peter, along with six others made their way to Galilee. Simon Peter had emerged as a leader among the twelve men that Jesus chose to be His disciples. Jesus even nicknamed him ‘Rocky’ (Peter means the rock) and as the narrative of good news unfolds we anticipate great things from Simon the Rock.
Remarkably, in the final chapter of John’s Gospel, Peter is more attracted to fishing than in looking for Jesus. Unless, you consider how easy it is to seek comfort in familiarity when things are not going well. A few weeks prior to this episode, Peter betrayed his new name on the night of Jesus’ arrest. Surely, it was bad enough for Judas to betray Jesus, but bad turns to worse when the leader, the Rock of Jesus’ missionary band denied even knowing Jesus. Peter’s expected response is described by Luke when he writes that Peter “went out and wept bitterly” (Luke 22:62). Yet, a remorseful Peter after two encounters with the resurrected Lord Jesus may very well have been seeking comfort in his familiar trade—fishing.
However, he soon learned how easy it is to forget that without Jesus he could do nothing. After a night of fishless fishing Peter and the others encounter again, for the third time, the resurrected Christ. It was daybreak and “Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus” (Jn. 21:4). They are not looking for Jesus so why would they know Jesus was on the shore? Jesus calls out to them, “do you have any fish?” Of course, they have none. “He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’” The reluctant disciples cast the net and were unable to haul the net aboard because there were so many fish. A seasoned fisherman on the crew counted and sized up the catch–153 large fish.
Immediately, John, the keen-sighted, recognized that Jesus was ashore, and he told Peter, the quick-acting, who girded himself, jumped into the water, and swam to shore, leaving the other six disciples with the boat and the fish. When the disciples made it to shore, they saw “a charcoal fire” with “fish laid out on it and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught’” (Jn. 21:9-10).
Thus, Jesus interrupts Rocky’s fishing trip, reveals Himself again, and serves up fish and chips for breakfast. Peter was not looking for Jesus, but Jesus was looking for him. The good news is even when you are not looking for Jesus, he comes to you, reveals himself and provides what you need. He intentionally restored Peter so that he might love Jesus and be a fisher of men not merely fish. Likewise, Jesus seeks his own sheep today in order that you might know Him, believe in Him and love Him with your life. He will interrupt your most comfortable past time with His presence to speak His Word, show His Love and transform you by His Spirit. Truth is, Jesus is faithful to be looking for you, even when you are not looking for Him.
- Pastor Robie Hembree