Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish .— John 21:5-6
On February 6 of this year, we heard similar verses to those above from the Gospel of Luke. In John these verses are found after the resurrection but in Luke they are the verses when the first disciples are called. There are many similarities between these two accounts. The disciples had been fishing for some time without catching anything. In both cases Jesus tells the disciples where to cast the nets. When they do, they make an amazing catch. In Luke, so many fish that the nets begin to break but in John the nets can hold this amazing catch of fish.
In Luke’s Gospel, Simon Peter is told by Jesus, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.’ In John’s Gospel, after Jesus repeated question to Simon Peter, “Do you love me?” Simon Peter is told, “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, and feed my sheep respectively.” Both of these stories are calls to discipleship. In Luke, Simon Peter is called but he doesn’t really know what he is getting himself into. In John’s Gospel, Peter has denied Jesus, Jesus has been crucified and has been raised from the dead, Jesus has asked Peter three times, “Do you love me?,” the call isn’t the same.
In fact, I think Peter’s call in John’s Gospel feels a little more sincere. Our call to follow Jesus is not a simple acceptance and then we will always get it right. This is true in Luke’s Gospel as well. But what strikes me about John’s account is that Peter is still called to discipleship. His failure doesn’t seem to phase Jesus, the work that he is being called to is essential. This is where I find hope in this story. We can so often believe that Jesus can’t use us as a disciple because of something we have done. And yet, he calls Peter to care for his sheep even after he had denied him.
We may not feel qualified, we may not feel worthy of the calling to which we are called, but Jesus has called us to be his disciples. To feed the lambs and the sheep, to fish for people, to live out our faith in our daily lives. In Peter, we can find hope, we are reminded that we won’t always get it right, and we see the grace and love of God at work.
God’s Peace, Pastor Steve