The air had taken on the distinct smell of Springtime and there were buds on the
water plants. Things that had hidden themselves under the water during the colder
weather were pushing their way to the top. Called away from our nets once, here we were again, because we simply didn’t know what else to do. Although it was a requirement of fishermen, waiting had never been our best virtue. The eight of us figured we could bring in a pretty good catch, especially with the moon so full, but we labored, tossed and dragged nets all night to no avail. We didn’t talk much. All
of us were lost in our own thoughts hoping some fog would lift, or someone’s mind would suddenly receive a revelation of what to do, where to go. Too much was
not understood ~ and too much was just unbelievable. So, I did understand well, when Peter said, “I’m going fishing!” It was the most natural and normal thing to do. We had done it since we were boys.
The night was rather warm and the work felt better with our shirts off. We tossed them in the center of the boat to keep them from getting so wet. Off and on through the long, silvery night we thought we felt the familiar tug of fish bodies hitting the net, but when the heavy wet net came in, there was nothing.
Just before dawn it seemed extra cool and the morning star was so bright, it made us all think of the Master. To think we had walked and talked with the One who set the courses of those stars and spoke them into being and never even realized it! It made us all feel so dull witted and dense. Revelation hadn’t come easy to any of us and we surely didn’t feel like chiding Thomas for not wanting to be duped into falling for some superstitious fabrication of someone’s imagination. Every time I looked at Peter all night long, a twinge of sympathy filled my heart. After all, Peter was himself - impetuous and quick witted. All of us had deserted, not just Peter.
The Master understood that too, or He would not have been so implicit in His instruction to Mary, singling Peter out by name, making sure he understood that he was included in the meeting in Galilee. We all understood, Peter would be hardest of all on himself, but we eight were quite willing to follow him to the boat, and we held nothing against him because we would, evidently, be coming in empty handed this morning.
Each man toiled and strained through the night, but the hardest work of all was probably going on in our minds. The memories seemed to take on new significance with every hour that passed. The storm He stilled on this very water! With
only His words! This water had held up His feet - and Peter’s also! This water had carried His voice to those waiting on the beach, also landed us next to the wildest man I had ever seen. Within minutes, the man was delivered and in his right mind.
Two thousand demonized pigs lay dead in the water.
Here we had watched many sunsets and sunrises. Our Master had slept in a boat
on this sea. There was comfort here.
How many times had He told us Who He was? I couldn’t count, but at least He knew we just didn’t understand. Probably those first shepherds understood better than we who watched Him heal and teach and find such different answers to problems that were presented to Him.
Counselor, Prince of Peace, Bright and Morning Star...yes, it was bright this early morning. What would happen now? We still didn’t know. One thing was very plain to see: we were very ordinary men. None of us had outstanding faith. How
effective could we be?
As the morning sun began to rise, the colors in the sky beckoned our eyes. It had been too long since we fished all night. If the nets were empty, at least the sky was full of such color! I turned to look at the others. All eyes were diverted to the beautiful display of color. I followed the rays on the waves as we neared the shore.
That’s when I saw Him. Someone was on the beach. The frothy waves carried the beautiful color right up on the sand.
He called out, “Boys, do you have any meat?”
Someone answered “Nothing”.
“Throw the net on the right side of the boat!” He shouted. I had a strange feeling.
No one argued at all. The net was thrown and in an instant it was full! We couldn’t
pull it in fast for fear of it breaking...and I knew! I turned to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”
I may have outrun Peter that other early morning, to the empty tomb, but
I don’t know how Peter got his coat so fast. He was overboard in a flash, and
up on the beach in a minute. There was loud laughing, praising, - we could hear well across the water.
We had a hundred fifty-three great fish! It should have broken the net, but not a thread was free.
The Master had no need of our fish for there were already fish on His fire, along
with the bread, but of course, He said “Bring some of those over here to the fire.
Come....and dine!” The warming air, the fire, those precious scarred hands breaking bread for us, reminding us of that last supper together. This glorious morning could never be forgotten!
What a feast we had! Oh, the companionship! The love! No other love on earth was like this love.
I was so thankful Thomas was among us to feel it. It was like a living thing. It WAS a living thing!
We satisfied our hunger and just basked in the morning sunlight. I understood contentment in a new and deeper way.
For the third time now, since the empty tomb, we enjoyed Him. We hoped it was forever. We watched Him intently and we listened. Would He stay now? Would He be gone in a moment? He did that in the room at Jerusalem, and again in Galilee, with the doors barred. He vanished as soon as they recognized Him at Emaus.
The warm sun was so welcome on our tired shoulders and though we had toiled all night, no one was inclined to lie down, indeed the air seemed charged with expectancy.
“Peter,” Jesus addressed him seriously. “Do you love me?” I knew Peter was remembering some hard times for him. A rooster crowing. A moment when he had offered heaven-sent revelation: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God!”
Jesus had praised him then for accepting the truth of God and only moments later
had to reprimand him because he, like all of us, couldn’t understand yet, the great
gift that was to be given to mankind when the cross had done it’s work.
“Peter, do you love Me?”
“Lord, You know, - I love You.”
“Feed My lambs.” I thought of the day He explained to us about the Good Shepherd. I thought of David’s Psalm.
“Peter, do you love Me?” Peter answered again with a little more force:
“Lord, yes, You know I love You.”
“Feed My sheep.” I thought of new babes in Christ, and those who had been with us awhile, who would need mentoring.
Then the third time Jesus asked, “Peter....do you really love me?”
Peter seemed saddened but still he answered, “My Lord, You know everything. You also know my heart, and You know I do love You.”
“Feed My sheep.” Peter was quiet now.
“When you were young, you dressed and went where you pleased, but when you are old, someone else will dress you and lead you where you don’t want to go,”
It was not said with any reprimand - just a fact.
Peter looked at me. “What about him?”
“What does it matter? Even if he lives until I return, you feed my sheep.”
How could we know that morning what was to happen? The Kings, the Rulers,
the vast peoples to whom we would witness, ~ the fire of the Holy Spirit filling us to aid in speeches before magistrates and courts, the deaths we would be willing to die
to gain what He had bought for us that day, ~ the boldness we would find available to say what needed to be said. We could not understand yet, but soon we came to know: it was for the whole of mankind; it was God’s plan from the beginning and we were not foolish to give all...in order to gain eternity with Him!
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Joan Clifton Costner
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