A strange uneasiness greeted me as I entered the street—the awareness of the evening’s events was almost suffocating. My only thought was to find my brother and quickly. The persistent slapping of my sandals on the dirt road and my apprehensive heartbeat were my only companions.
As I approached the house of the Sanhedrin, I began to hear low murmuring. The soft red glow of a fire was evident in the distance. I followed the voices, desperately hoping I would find my younger brother--not imprisoned.
Suddenly, I stopped as an icy breeze wafted across my face. I shuddered and my heart raced. A terrifying feeling nearly sent me reeling, causing me to hesitate and take in the surroundings. Later, I would come to realize that I had met the enemy that night. He pursued us many days until our freedom was secured.
Shadows roamed the courtyard. Then, I saw Simon warming his hands by the fire. I wanted to call out to him, but something stopped me. It was then that I heard him say, “No, I do not know the Galilean.” A second time those horrible words were repeated to a slave girl. Then, again, this time with irritation, he spat in the face of the slave girl, “I do not know what you are talking about! I do not know him!”
“How could my brother say those terrible things about our teacher?” My mind struggled to comprehend the scene.
I watched in bewilderment as Simon slunk away from the crowd. He cowered like a disobedient slave submitting to his master’s whip. This was not the man I knew. His joy had vanished. As he came closer to me, I saw the tears streaming down his face. I reached out to him, pulling him into the shadows—away from the humiliation and shame.
“Simon, it’s me--Andrew.”
“What are you doing here?” His words were barely audible. He crumpled into my shoulder like a small child hungry for comfort.
I was helpless to relieve him of his grief.
The next day dawned like any other, but it proved to be our undoing. While our youngest friend, John, stood bravely by our suffering teacher, the rest of us trembled in fear and retreated to the shadows of doorways to watch the unfolding drama. Who were we fooling? We had abandoned our faith, our friend, ourselves. The horror of our teacher’s suffering and our inadequacies would haunt us . . . forever. His death that day caused us unspeakable despair and hopelessness. What would life mean without him by our side?
Then, Jesus, our teacher, our Messiah rose from the dead--just as He and the prophets had foretold! His physical appearances astounded us! Indeed, this was the awaited Messiah—death had no hold on him! Despite these joys, many of us, especially Simon, still languished in hopelessness.
A week later, we all returned to Capernaum and our families. For those of us who made our living as fishermen, the Sea of Tiberias was home . . . safety . . . certainty. We were not there long, when Simon said he wanted to fish. We all joined him without hesitation. However, when we failed to fill our nets, tempers flared, and by early morning we had given up and headed for home. A defeat for us; a victory for the enemy.
As we drew closer to shore, a man appeared asking if we had caught any fish. When we replied, “No,” he told us to cast our nets on the right side of the boat and we would find some. Incredibly, the nets overflowed. John, who had been in the bow of the boat, suddenly turned back to Simon and shouted, “It is the Lord!” (John 21:7 NASB)
My brother, Simon, wasted no time jumping into the water and swimming to shore. His exuberance was contagious. An incredible wonder filled all of us.
As we ate breakfast with Jesus, the joy of his presence renewed our spirits. This was now the third time he had appeared to us. However, what transpired next between Jesus and my brother Simon is something I have never forgotten. Our teacher asked him three times if he truly loved him. Each time Simon reaffirmed his love, I saw the hurt in his eyes and it pierced my heart. As I heard Jesus’ last words to Simon, I finally understood. “Follow Me.”
My brother, a humble fisherman from Capernaum, had found his one true calling.
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