Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 – Greeted by Grace…

That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.  But 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

The dawn brought a new day and much more for the seven followers of Jesus who had just finished a long, disappointing night fishing.  The voice of a stranger met them with the early light with an inquiry about their success.  When they told him that they had caught nothing, he instructed them to cast the net on the other side of the boat.  As the men obeyed and found their nets full of fish, John exclaimed, “It is the Lord!”

Had the evangelist suddenly been able to see the figure on the shoreline clearly?    It is far more likely that John recognized the work of the Lord, recognized that this amazing catch of fish was not a natural but rather a supernatural phenomenon.  It is still true that we see our risen Lord best by recognizing his gracious and abundant blessings in our lives.

Peter responded to John’s pronouncement by acting impatiently.  He recognized that Jesus had returned for them, had come to them, even from death, so he jumped into the sea and swam the remaining distance that separated them.  But before he did so, John tells us that that Peter put on his clothes.  This small detail runs against most experience, in which people take off their clothes before jumping into the water.  Why would Peter defy common practice and fully clothe himself before going for a swim?  Perhaps he felt he needed to be covered in order to come into the nearer presence of the Lord.  Not unlike the account of Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 who covered themselves and hid from God after their sin, perhaps Peter felt he too needed to be covered.  It is a natural response to our sinfulness and shortcoming to seek to hide ourselves and our sins from God.

What Peter came to realize, and what we all come to know, is that the Lord responds to our sinfulness with grace, not judgment.  Peter’s sins were forgiven long before he arrived at the shore.  There was no need for hiding, just an invitation to celebrate life in its fullness and abundance.

Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to me with grace and forgiveness to offer me abundant life in your kingdom.  Amen.

a Bible Study devotional by Gorman Houston

Friday, May 10, 2013 –

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, ”Children, have you 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, for the quantity of fish.  - John 21:4-6

John records that at the end of the long and fruitless night of fishing, just as dawn was breaking on the weary disciples, a stranger stood on the beach one hundred yards away.  He did not act as a stranger, and he called to these men, “Children, have you any fish?”  A better translation would be more like, “Children, you don’t have any fish, do you?”  This slight nuance found in the original Greek may reveal a bit of grace.  Few of us take joy in admitting failure.  When the question is straight-forward and blunt, we can be apprehensive in our response.   By casting the question in a way that lowers the expectation, Jesus allowed the disciples to admit to their failure more easily.  Regardless, the disciples’ failure did not get the last word.  Upon hearing that they had fished all night with nothing to show for it, Jesus instructed the men to cast their nets on the other side of the boat.  As they followed in obedience, their nets were filled with an abundance of fish – the catch of a lifetime.

This passage is wonderfully full of meaning and application.  As we encounter the risen Christ, our faults and failures are immediately exposed.  But we should not shy away from such an encounter, because grace is already present, helping us accept our failure.  That acknowledgement of failure before our Lord opens immeasurable opportunity for divine blessing – an abundant life.  Such is the case every time we confess our sins and shortcomings.  We do so, not to beat ourselves down and dwell on our misdeeds, but rather to entrust our sins and weakness to Christ Jesus, whose grace opens to us new possibilities.  Our obedient response to our Lord, opens us to receive the full blessing of the one who said, “I have come that they might have life in all its abundance.”

Failure is a part of the human experience.  Grace, forgiveness, and blessings come with the abundant life found in Christ Jesus.

Lord, empower me to confront and confess my failures that I may experience life on your terms.  Amen