Why did I go fishing? Probably because I wasn’t sure what else to do. Chock full of major events, the last few weeks had been, to put it one way, interesting. Our friend Jesus was heralded as a King, only to be crucified as the King of the Jews. As a sign of respect, a man from Arimathea volunteered to put Jesus’ body in his own tomb, at least for the time being. Just when we thought the whole ordeal was laid to rest, Mary came running with the horrific news that someone took His body from the grave. Would this ever end?
It was John who first believed. He said it was something about the grave clothes on the floor. We were recalling what Jesus said about His own resurrection when Mary came running again,this time beaming with happiness. She saw Him — the same Him that we saw hanging by His own flesh on the cross. Mary knew He was alive, and that was all she knew, since they didn’t stay to talk for long. Could it be?
We decided it would be best to circle the wagons (not that I know what that even means, since the old west is still about 1800 years away) and try to figure out what’s next. We locked the door because some of us couldn’t shake the fear that the Jewish leaders would track us down and make life difficult. We felt like innocent bystanders to a miracle, implicated by our calling to follow a Rabbi. We called out to Yahweh yet wondered at the same time: how do you pray at a time like this?
Jesus appeared in the room, but not in the typical “open the door and walk in” kinda way. He just showed up. We freaked. He told us to relax, which took a miracle. The second time He appeared, Thomas actually put his finger in the wounds and then, with the knack for words that only comes by taking a full journey of faith, said it for all of us: My Lord and my God. But I couldn’t look Jesus in the eye. How could I be forgiven after running away? After denying Him? Would I ever get the sound of a Rooster’s crow out of my head?
And that’s when I decided to go fishing. LIke the sign on Dad’s workshop wall says: When all else fails, go fishin’! It was more than a hobby for our family, though. It was a way of life. And with all the saltwater in my veins, I decided to hit the boat. Some of the other guys came with. Seems like we all needed something to do. A few skims of the net, a few deep spots, some favorite corners of the water that are always swimmin’ — the entire night, not one fish found itself in our nets. It’s always disappointing when the one thing you know will make you feel better doesn’t. We wondered: who’s the guy on the beach?
He told us to put our nets on the right side of the boat. Humiliated, we figured there was nothing left to lose. Turns out all the fish were on the right side of the boat, which I’ve never seen before. How odd… the last time we got fishing advice… wait… is that…?
John said it, I heard it, I swam for it. It is the Lord. I’ve never believed something so much as I did with each stroke in that cold water. I couldn’t get to HIm fast enough. I remember thinking that maybe walking on the water — or running! — would be quicker, but I was almost to shore. And there He was, whistling a tune while He cooked fish over a coal fire. It triggered my memory of the coal fire I stood by to keep warm as I denied my connection to Jesus. I tried to forget about it as I stood across from Him. The guys in the boat behind me (thankfully they didn’t abandon ship) were ready to anchor and join us. Yikes! Have we ever scored so many fish in one net?
When Jesus told us to bring the net in, I didn’t want to hesitate for even one second. Anything He needed, I’d do it. He didn’t seem mad, which was a relief. And that smell… of fish and fresh bread. After working all night and finally dragging in a massive catch, we were more than ready to eat. It’s funny. He gave us lunch from that kid’s fish and bread. He gave us dinner in the upper room. And now He’s inviting us to breakfast. We ate and enjoyed. We were on our way to bring the fish to market when Jesus motioned for me to stay behind. Uh oh. Was I in trouble after all?
He said Simon, son of John, do you love me? Of course I did. Yes! I love you Jesus! I will tell the world! I will shout it from… He interrupted and asked again Do you love me? I wondered if maybe He didn’t hear me, so I kept telling Him from my heart how much love I had for Him, for His friendship, for all He did and said, for His… and then a third time He asked the question. The same question. I believe in you. Why don’t you believe me?
I admit that His apparent doubt hurt my feelings. I love you Jesus. Ask me 153 more times and I’ll tell you: yes. I love you. I know who you are and I believe. Now more than ever. Are we ok?
He told me something strange about how I was going to get old and be led to the places I didn’t want to go. When He said Follow Me, I understood that my discipleship wasn’t over. I wasn’t worried. I was full of fish, bread, and love for Jesus. I’d follow Him anywhere and tell everyone that Jesus is the Messiah.