Week 6: Who are you?
I don’t know how life is feeling for you, your family, your church and community, but here at the Arthur Rank Centre it’s begun to feel like we’ve settled into a new normal. Working from home has become very familiar and we’ve developed new routines and ways of working.
We’ve begun to reconnect with established work streams – including Country Way magazine and Rural Mission Sunday – as the immediacy of our organisational response to COVID-19 has itself shifted into something more routine.
Personally, I’ve found it very helpful to reflect on this experience in the light of the Easter story, and particularly the Bible’s numerous accounts of the disciples having to reframe their understanding of what life is all about as they moved through what we now call Holy Week and beyond, adjusting to their own ‘new normal’. Today’s Bible passage and reflection offers us the opportunity to eavesdrop on Jesus and the disciples as they gather for breakfast on a beach, an encounter which necessitates yet another shift in perspective.
As our own perspective continues to shift, we pray that you will know the presence of Jesus in your home, family, church and community.
Louise, on behalf of the wider Arthur Rank Centre team
Who are you?
Bible Reading: John 21:1-14
Afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered.
He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment round him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred metres. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
I love this account of how Jesus set up the opportunity to have an important conversation with Peter. That is clearly what it was. It raises so many questions in my mind. Where did Jesus acquire the materials for the fire and obtain the fish and bread? What was going on in the minds of the disciples as they ate silently? But most of all, what was going on in Peter’s heart and mind at that time? Why did Jesus keep Peter waiting?
The miraculous catch of fish we read about here echoed the event recorded by Luke where Jesus called Peter and he left his boat and nets to follow Jesus (Luke 5:1–11). The warmth and smell of the charcoal fire was so similar to the fire that Peter had sat around in the Courtyard of the High Priest where Peter had denied Jesus three times, despite his previous promise of faithfulness. Then there were those three questions that came later: do you really love me?
Peter had wept bitterly when Jesus came out of the High Priest’s house that dreadful night. From that moment Peter had to deal with the awareness that he was not the man he thought he was. Now Mary, Thomas, and the two on the road to Emmaus had experienced personal times with the risen Christ but Peter, who had been part of an inner circle closer to Jesus, was left with his feelings of failure. Coming face to face with the one he had failed would have been painful.
But it was therapeutic and healing. There was reassurance and recommissioning; failure had not led to distrust. If anything, the realisation of his human weakness had created a new and precious bond between the man and his Saviour.
Sometimes we need to be broken before we can be put together again, filled with the Holy Spirit and useful to God.
Lord you know me – who I really am – and yet you love me and died for me.
Save me from dwelling on the times I have failed you.
I welcome your forgiveness.
Help me to realise that there is a specific work to which you have called me.
Take me as I am, I can come no other way.
Make me what you want me to be: ready to do your will.
You and God
Find a quiet place and time. Read John 21 again and try to imagine that you are Peter.
- What are you thinking and feeling when he jumps out of the boat, when he sits and thinks while eating, and when he walks and listens to Jesus?
- Try to be honest with God about your failures but realise God’s love for you is as strong as ever, and with him there is forgiveness.
- Give thanks for the opportunity to serve him today.
- Are there unfulfilled promises that even now could be picked up?
You and others
Contact at least five people today to encourage them, especially if they are finding it difficult to cope with the present restrictions. Could you pray with them briefly on the phone? Is there anything that you could do for them?
Revd Barry Osborne, CEO, Rural Mission Solutions