Thursday, July 25, 2013

without doubts

     Last night I had the great privilege to lead college group for the last time before I leave, and finish out our long study on the book of John. This is the journaling that I did that inspired me to take on last night.

 Peter and John were first to the tomb, and no doubt they saw Jesus in the confines of that locked upper room, stuffy with fear.
     Here we see seven of the disciples fishing in the fresh sea air; they’ve toiled all night, now the sun begins to rise and we see them as we saw them first in Luke—glistening with sweat, stripped down for the heat of a fruitless night, empty handed, the light of day just beginning to show upon their weary faces. A man on the horizon calls out, inquires about their catch, and they answer him. He gives instruction and they don’t think twice—they’ve done this before, but can’t quite remember where through the aching of their muscles and their sleep-deprived brains. It’s not until they try to haul up the net and it is impossibly full and heavy that John awakens and says what must have stirring in everyone’s  minds to Peter—“It’s Jesus, our Lord!”

And the greatest credit to Peter is that he wastes no time and beats around no bushes—he goes straight to the Lord he abandoned upon the cross, diving into his fear, rejection, guilt. Though he knows not what Jesus’ response will be he throws himself into the sea, unable to wait to reach his Lord.
     It is impossible to tell whether they had any private interview before the other disciples arrived, suddenly wide awake, giddy almost with their catch, wild with hopeful joy and yet unable to address Jesus directly. When they come, in the boat, and Jesus, standing by his little charcoal fire which must have called to Peter’s mind a bitter night only a week or so ago, Jesus calls for them to bring some of their fish. And Peter, in all of his wild love and impatience hauls the net to shore himself, with all 153 large fish in it, and the net amazingly untorn. And Jesus, barely holding back a smile, I think, says to them, “Come and have breakfast.” And they dared not ask him, “Who are you?” For the light had dawned full upon them and morning had broken—they knew it was the Lord and it was without doubts that they watched him break bread in the old familiar way, and pass the fish.  

And I, now, I am wild with longing to be there, at that breakfast, to see whether it was silent with a great held-in excitement and awe and glances of great wonder between the disciples’ eyes and Jesus looking with love and affection upon it all, or whether it all broke and spilled over and they talked freely again, with excited laughter and talking-too-fast and the sweet understanding and acceptance of comrades. These tired fishermen are suddenly alive, either way, alive and alert, hardly able, I can imagine, to tear their eyes from Jesus, eager to understand what they must do now, loathe to be charged with it yet lest their best friend go from them too soon.

When they had eaten their share, Jesus addresses Peter with gentleness and authority.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Peter tells Jesus all that is in his heart, the words that must have formed themselves one hundred ways one thousand times in Peter’s mind since the crowing of the cock when he had to have wished he could go back and do it again—“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
     And the Lord outside of time mends what has been broken and he asks again and again until Peter, broken by his love for Christ and grieved that Christ should seem to doubt, cries out again and again, confessing his love.
Thus it is that he receives his great charge—“Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep.” So the blustering fisherman becomes a wise and gentle shepherd in the end, just like his Lord and yet unmistakably himself. Once more, the call comes, “Follow me!” And their minds must have echoed “and I shall make you fishers of men!”

     So the great destiny is begun.

Photo credit: Ally Marie Westfallen
[she has graciously allowed me to use several of her beautiful photos of Galilee from a recent trip to Israel.]

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