After Jesus had been crucified (executed), buried, and raised up from the dead, He appeared to a number of people. The last chapter of John records one of these appearances to several of his disciples.
There are a number of great messages found in John 21 (a surprising catch of fish; Jesus’ forgiveness of Peter; some prophecy; and John’s testimony), and I encourage you to read the entire chapter. However, a specific passage caught my attention the other day, though, near the start of that chapter:
Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
John 21:2-3 NASB
Consider Peter’s last few weeks: Jesus had entered Jerusalem triumphantly, but was later captured, crucified, and buried. Peter had denied that he even knew Jesus. The apostles’ leader was gone.
Then, someone reported that Jesus was alive – which didn’t make sense, since His executioners had done a thorough job. However, despite the improbability of this report, John chapter 20 reports that Jesus personally met with His disciples two times, proving His resurrection.
I’m not sure what was going through Peter’s mind, but he had been a disciple for several years, and – as far as I know – wasn’t doing any extra work on the side. He no longer had a specific role in his community, and may have felt a little lost. So, he went back to what he knew.
This is some speculation, but I imagine him sitting around (see John 20:19) with some of his friends (from his time spent with Jesus), and getting a little stir crazy. So, he finally gets up and says, “I am going fishing.” His buddies – who were probably tired of hiding – agree, and they head to a place that they know (see Matthew 4:18-22) to go fishing.
So, what can we learn from this? For one thing, even though Peter didn’t currently have a role as a disciple (since his rabbi wasn’t always present), he didn’t just sit around and pout. Instead, he did what he was comfortable with – something he was good at.
Sometimes, you too won’t have the most glamorous calling, during your Christian walk. You might have a job that doesn’t seem very “sacred” (although God created honest work), or maybe you just lost a job. However, we can spend so much time trying to figure out the “best” thing to do next, that we end up doing nothing. It may be time for you to just get out there, and do what you can – what you know how to do well.
What happened to Peter when he (and his friends) went fishing? He met Jesus (John 21:4-14), and shared breakfast. Later, Peter had a special conversation with Jesus. Similarly, we too can meet Jesus when we just take a step forward, doing the best that we can.
Finally, if you are “hiding” (like the disciples after Jesus’ death) or just trying to figure out what’s next, I hope that you are encouraged by the fact that – just as Jesus promised; see Matthew 16:17-19 – Peter became a leader and a major contributor to the church. Both this time of fear, and Peter’s fishing trip, were just another part of his story.
May your story continue to glorify God, and bless others in His name.
See also Take the Step