Scripture Reading – Luke 5:1-11, John 21:1-19
In the final chapter of John’s Gospel, we find a resurrection story that takes us all the way back to Jesus’ original call of Peter in the fifth chapter of Luke. In both stories, Peter has fished all night long and caught nothing. In both stories Jesus unexpectedly shows up on the beach with the rising sun and asks him to cast out his nets again. In both stories this simple act of faith results in a catch of fish so abundant that it overwhelms both Peter and his nets.
After the great catch in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus invites Peter to follow him. He responds in fear saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man! (Luke 5:8).” To which Jesus responds, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people (Luke 5:10).” Upon hearing this, Peter gets up, leaves his nets behind, and follows Jesus.
Three years later, on the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, Peter’s worst fears about himself are realized as he denies even knowing Jesus to save his own skin (Luke 22:54-62). Jesus is crucified the following day.
In John’s Gospel, Peter and the other disciples experience the joy of the resurrection as Jesus appears to them behind locked doors. Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit upon them and commissioned them saying, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you (John 20:19-23).”
In the following and final chapter of John’s Gospel we are surprised to read that Peter and the disciples have returned to their fishing nets. As in Luke, they have spent the entire night fishing and caught nothing. With the rising sun, the risen Christ appears on the beach and asks Peter to cast out his nets again. Peter does so and his nets are overwhelmed with fish (John 21:4-8). And once again, Jesus says to Peter, “follow me (John 21:19)”
The resurrection makes new life possible. As we learn from Peter’s story, we can experience the power and joy of the resurrection, only to find ourselves returning to our old life. In Peter’s case, it was his failure, and the fear of failing Jesus again that caused him to doubt. In asking Peter to cast out his nets again Jesus was asking him to trust in him. To trust in God’s grace and forgiveness. To trust in God to work powerfully through his simple act of faith. Peter dropped his nets into a sea of fear and doubt, and God filled them with an abundance of grace.
May the celebration of Easter morning remind us of Jesus’ persistent call to a new life. May it remind us of God’s promises and power, and may it remind us of the grace and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who calls us each day, to set our fear and doubt aside, and to simply follow him.
God Bless All of You!