a major case of déjà vu | John 21.7-8
That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. John 21.7-8 | ESV
Major case of déjà vu. That perennially favorite disciple of Jesus nudges the still incredulous Rock, “It’s the Lord.” Now “The Rock and I’m Listening” puts two and two together when he hears, “It’s the Lord,” and suddenly realizes he’s practically stark naked in the boat. He hurriedly throws his fisherman’s tunic on, but then promptly throws himself into the lake to swim to shore – he just couldn’t wait. Meanwhile the others brought another wee boat alongside and between the two of them they laboriously hauled the catch of fish to the shore – and fortunately they weren’t that far out; just about two hundred strokes (as Peter learned in his swimming). MAV
Did I mention that I really, really like this story?
Jesus so clearly telegraphs their initial conversion point in that first “miraculous catch” of fish way back when (see Luke 5) as a way of saying several things, chief among them being, “Hello, remember me?” John catches it – but evidently has to connect the dots for Peter.
Thank you, Peter! You are at the head of the class, and every last one of us feels at home with you. What a slow business it can be for us – this whole dot-connecting business.
But then the pieces fall into place. Peter catches on too. And his next act is priceless. They just made the catch of a lifetime and it’s an “all hands on deck” moment that ultimately demands at least another boat to come alongside and help haul it all in. Peter’s response? “It’s Jesus and I’m naked!” Talk about rewind! All the way back to Genesis. On goes his fisherman’s frock. And now what? Pitch in with your fellow fishermen and help them haul this catch to shore?
Why no, silly.
I must pitch into the water and swim to Christ. Most of us strip and then dive in. But Peter’s not most of us. Oh, but wait – he is, isn’t he? If this is narrative tacked on by a later revisionist to establish the ecclesiastical authority of Peter, they could have woven together a much better story than this!
What the author has done is reveal the hard to ape authenticity of a human being who reacts in all too familiar and wonderfully awkward ways to the sudden presence of the One he has both deeply failed and loved.
Yes, we thank God for you, Peter.
Thank you for revealing to us the God who loves great big, dripping wet, awkward human beings.
Put yourself in the boat with these fishy disciples when you suddenly realize it’s Jesus – the same Jesus you humiliated yourself before mere days prior. What do you do? Why?
Lord, thank you for embracing my great big, dripping wet, awkward humanity.
Give me the grace today to pass it on. Through Jesus.