"I am going fishing"...
"they caught nothing". John 21:3
It's hard for me to imagine what it must have been like, as I've never seen a miraculous physical healing, or a storm ceased by a word, or 5,000 people fed with just a handful of fish and bread, but these seven disciples fishing had. The last three years of their lives had been astounding, and then, to top it all, they'd recently seen their teacher extinguished by the most cruel form of capital punishment the Romans could employ, only to see Him physically return from death a few days later.
How would you respond to something like that?
Well, Peter had pretty much had enough, and for good reason.
The events of the last few weeks had shown to him and everyone else what kind of person he really was. When the going got tough, he cashed in. When he was called on to stand up and be counted, he scurried away and just couldn't take it.
Peter's like us.
Me and you.
When we get right down to facing the kind of crucible he did, fear can grip us so hard that all we can think about is our own skins, never mind the consequences on someone else.
Satan has desired to sift you, Jesus told Him at the last meal together.
If you're someone who knows that Jesus is the truth, then make no mistake - you're in those crosshairs.
Mercifully for Peter, and you and me, that isn't the conclusion to his days with Jesus.
There is Peter and his associates, doing what some of them at least understood - bringing in a catch, except it wasn't happening. Not even his old skills were proving to be any good on this night. If he couldn't go back to fishing, what was he going to do?
As dawn breaks (don't you love dawns), they hear a familiar voice telling them to try once again. As once before in their experience, there's a remarkable catch as they do, but Peter's already forgotten about that and makes for the shore - Jesus is on the beach.
He's made a fire, and as they have breakfast, Jesus reconciles a devastated man.
I'm so glad for this amazing moment.
It tells me that you and I can (and, no doubt, will) be the biggest screw-ups in time and space, but if Jesus cares for us, then things are going to be good, even if we have, in this moment, shut up shop to go fishing, or something else that seems to put us a million miles from God, because we've totally failed.
Jesus came for His friend. He heals him in that moment by confirming that Peter does really love in the way that truly matters, because he is loved, and by telling him that he has a future beyond a fishing boat and the same-old, same-old.
The same is true for us if we trust in the Jesus who came for us, died for us, rose for us. Sure, we're going to have 'gone fishing' moments when everything is so out of joint, but sometimes, those are the very deep moments when the miraculous unfolds as Jesus comes and speaks to us through His word and marries us to His peace, and His truly astonishing, secure love.
Peter would go on, as Jesus promises in this conversation, to live and die for the riches that God gives Him in this moment.
So, if you have been out toiling in the dark all night, aware of God's truth, but distant from it, take a look as the dawn comes up, and see who is waiting to share breakfast with you on the beach. There's good news, thanks be to God, for each of us, if we do.