salvation waiting on the shore | John 21.4-6
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. John 21.4-6 | ESV
The fruitless night of fishing seemed to wear on forever, but then, before they knew it, there was the sun pressing over the horizon, another new day beckoning, revealing the Son, their Salvation, standing right on water’s edge – though, as per usual, none of them had a clue it was Jesus. Salvation shouts to them from the shore, “Hey guys! You have anything to eat?” They shout back: “No!” “Try the right! Lower the net on the right side of the boat and I think you’ll find something,” he said, continuing the early morning exchange. So they did (why not?). And the boat lurched to the right, the net straining to hold the catch, the net so heavy with fish they couldn’t haul it anywhere. MAV
This is one of my absolutely most favorite-est stories in all of Scripture.
These key disciples have gone back to what they know – and what they formerly left, for good, presumably. “’Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ And they left their nets and followed him.’” On at least one level this could be viewed as a defection – and some do. Some see in Peter’s invitation more than a suggestion of a wee fishing trip while they waited for Jesus to show, but rather a throwing in the towel and picking up their former trade. In such a scenario, standing in His place, some of us would be tempted to turn our backs, to sulk, or to show up when they returned to shore and give them a piece of our mind.
At the very least it’s a great “O ye of little faith (and of even little-er fishing ability)” moment.
He could have popped into the midst again out on the boat, or done a repeat performance of the whole “walking on water” routine, but instead Salvation stands playfully on the shore. I say playfully because he doesn’t tip his hand as to who he is.
How he loves coming to us in another form!
And rather than the “O ye of little faith” rebuke that would feel so good to us, he offers them the ultimate deep sea catch. The disciples weren’t the only ones good at rewinding! Standing at the end of his story with them, Jesus brings them full circle to its beginning.
Oh the endlessly creative ways God has of tipping his hand – and getting us to see his face.
In what unexpected way have you most recently encountered God on the shore of your life?
Lord, remind me, when I turn to you empty-handed for the umpteenth time, that you don’t weigh me down with shame or guilt, but instead fill the nets of my expectations in ways I wouldn’t have imagined possible. And let that be a lesson to me – and through me. Through Christ.