If you are like me right now, nothing seems to make sense. I find that I am just trying to live my life and that makes others crazy. The way other people are living their life is making me crazy. So what are we to do? Don’t worry, we are all asking the same question! Honestly speaking, I have felt a very critical voice creeping into my heart about this whole situation, until I read John 21. The disciples didn’t experience Covid-19, but it was just as unsettling. They were asking the same question, “what do we now?” When normal is lost and life is uncertain, we have a built in default setting. I have them and so do you. The problem is I get frustrated when your default is different than mine. Mine is sacred and yours is sinful, or so we think.
Let’s look at John 21:1-3, ” After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 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.”
Jesus had already died on the cross and rose from the dead. He had shown up twice already to the disciples, but apparently wasn’t staying with them like before. Peter and 6 other disciples were together trying figure out what “normal” was going to look like now. This was a very confusing time for the disciples. Their everyday leader had been killed, so they begin to grapple with that. Three days later, He is alive. Now they have to wrestle with this new normal. Before this pandemic, I always looked down on the disciples for running off to their old life. Now I understand how they feel. The disciple’s whole world had been flipped upside down. One week before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus rode in on a donkey while everyone praised His name. I wonder if some of the disciples thought this was the moment Jesus was about to set up His kingdom and conquer Rome. But He died instead. You see, the disciples whole worldview had been shattered. What they thought, what they hoped, what they dreamed was all shattered and destroyed right before their eyes in a matter of a week. Kinda the way I feel right now. Nothing in the world makes sense and I feel uneasy about every decision.
Back to our text, what did the disciples do when they were faced with uncertainty and scrounging for a sense of “new normal?” They went fishing. This only makes sense if you understand that this was the life they left behind to follow Jesus in the first place. (I am sorry if you are a fisherman and you were hoping to use this blog to try to convince your spouse that all you need is more fishing in your life, haha! But if that is the case, going fishing right now makes the most sense 😉 The weather is amazing!) While trying to live in the face of changing times and swirling winds of life, the disciples ran for the comforts of their old life. Fishing made sense to them. It gave them purpose again. It made them feel alive and like human beings once again. They were looking for the things you and I are looking for today. Life doesn’t make sense, so we run to something that does.
My default setting is hard, labor intensive work. I feel alive when I do farm/ranch work. Right now in my heart, all I want to do is be on a farm or ranch getting stuff done. It gives me purpose and helps me feel grounded and secure. It makes me forget the angst that surrounds my life right now. Just last week, while I was building fence with a friend; I felt at peace. I remember looking up at one point to the beautiful Nebraskan sunset and scenery while all my worries seemed to melt away with every wire nailed to a post. I imagine that your “comfort” looks different than mine, but is just as real. What has made you feel normal or ok right now? What have you run to for a sense of normalcy? What does Jesus think of us when we do this? Does He drop his head in shame when we run to our old life that He called us out of? Let’s read on, you might be surprised.
John 21:4-11, “But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.”
How did Jesus respond to the disciples need for normal and comforts of their old life? Notice that he knew that they hadn’t caught anything and told them where they could get fish. It seems odd to me that they couldn’t catch fish on the other side of the boat, but just a feet away was a catch of a lifetime. Supernatural! They not only caught some, but it was a great catch of 153 fish. This was bumper crop. The kind of catch may have the left former fisherman with a serious life choice ahead. If they had that kind of success today, do I really want to follow Jesus when I just had that kind of haul? Jesus didn’t condemn them or chastise them for fishing, but he actually blessed their efforts. He showed grace and understanding in the middle of their new frustrating existence. So did Jesus want them to continue in their old way of life? No! If you read on in the rest of the passage, you will see that Jesus reengages them the same way He engaged them in the first place with “Follow Me.”
In the middle of this Covid-19 pandemic, we are all out of sorts. We don’t know what will happen day to day. We don’t know if this will get better or worse. We don’t know how long we will be in a lock down or if it will ever be “normal” again. But what I do know, is that Jesus is still calling you and I to “Follow Him.” He is asking us to look to Him. Pray to Him. Trust Him. Look to Him for comfort and peace. He may allow you to go back to what He called you out of for a short season for comfort (as long as that activity isn’t sinful), but He will want to reengage you to follow Him. His kingdom has not shut down and He needs worker for the harvest.
Right now, you are faced with many decisions. I hope and pray you are at least considering to follow Jesus during and after Covid-19 blows over. He is with us in the storm and He invites us to journey with Him. We have never needed Jesus more than we do right now, won’t you trust and follow Him. He brings calm to the chaos and peace to the storm.
Grace and Peace to you as you look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith. We will get through this together. Follow Jesus.