“‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them… ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some’” John 21:2, 6.
It was the days following the death of his friend, his companion, his teacher…the One whom predicted his denials. Peter was filled with shame and disgrace at how he crumbled with fear the night his precious friend was arrested in the garden. He lived under the guilt and regret that he had done nothing to prevent the tragedy from happening. Now it was over…the sun had set and so had his zeal and fervor for the Lord. With his head hung low and his heart even lower he returned to what he knew best…sitting in the dark fishing where no one could see his streaming tears and broken heart. The night passed slowly and the only thing Peter caught was more self- imposed grief…self-inflicted guilt…self-condemnation. But…Jesus refused to leave him in his guilt and grief offering a different catch, a catch that yielded forgiveness, restoration and renewal. Peter was never more aware of the grace of Christ as he was when he realized it was Jesus wanting to bless a traitor… a betraying friend…a failure. How humbling and quiet Peter must have been around that campfire early that morning as Jesus spoke to those He loved. The thoughts must have crowded his mind…How can He love me? Where is His anger? Where are the disappointing glances…the deserving jabs?
This simple passage speaks directly to the heart of failure followed by forgiveness…guilt followed by grace…the undeserving following by the blessings. What if Peter would have allowed his guilt to speak more loudly that Christ’s grace? What if the shame was too unbearable to face Jesus and he skipped that breakfast where he received complete redemption from the Redeemer?
There is failure in all of us providing plenty of reasons for guilt and embarrassment with the manner in which we treat Jesus. There are times we look the other way when His nature is being questioned. There are times when we treat those in the Body of Christ with such disdain and dismissiveness that we miss the reflection of Christ in our actions. Many times we look the other way to avoid that spiritual eye contact with God out of regret. Thankfully, Christ does not wait on us to come to Him. He knows that each of us struggle with our own nets, filling them with an inedible yield. He calls us to come to his offering where He provides the food.
We must lay our nets of guilt down and enjoy the catch of Christ. His net is filled with love, forgiveness, blessings and opportunities to join Him in fishing for men. When we pull in the nets of Christ we pull in a yield to feed the spiritually hungry who God places around us. Christ had every reason to deny forgiveness to Peter, but He was not interested in validation and broken promises. Christ was all about the work of His Father and the message of redemption which is the example given for each of our lives.
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