Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. John 21:7
You gotta love Peter. At times compulsive and reckless yet there is a sincerity of heart about him that is simply beautiful. Peter had been called out of a fishing career by Jesus. He was called not to the profession of disciple, but to a relationship with Jesus. That relationship had so affected Peter that he was willing to leave everything he knew to follow Jesus.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter had gone back to fishing. Perhaps the sting of his denials of Jesus at his crucifixion still lingered in his mind. How could I have done that? I had come so far and then blew it all in one night. Is there any hope for me? So he does what many of us do when we face an identity crisis — he went back to what he did before he knew Jesus. But he wasn’t having much success. All night and no fish. But then Jesus turns up and in his abundant grace and love, tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and when they do they catch more fish than they ever have, 153 LARGE fish. This is a fisherman’s dream, everything the person Peter was before he met Jesus would have wanted.
This may be the biggest test of all for a disciple. Following Jesus is easy when it seems there are no other options. But what about when your ship comes in, you land the big business deal, you get the job, you get healed, you marry the person of your dreams? Will you still pursue Him when the blessing comes?
Peter realizes it is Jesus on the shore because of the miracle. He leaves behind the blessing to run after the One from whom all blessings flow. He puts on his coat and jumps out of the boat. Puts on his coat?? Why would he do that to go for a swim? Probably because last time he stepped out of a boat in the middle of the sea to follow Jesus he went for a walk not a swim! That’s the effect a relationship with Jesus can have on us. What looked impossible no longer does. We can live a blessed life without being tied to the blessing and worldly success. We can own things but things don’t own us. Miracles become a part of everyday life and our walk with Jesus takes preeminence over any of the fringe benefits that come along with it.
Jesus never left his disciples money, buildings, or strategic church growth strategies. He didn’t even write a book! What he left them was the effect of a relationship. That relationship became the foundation of the Church and that relationship is as vibrant and available to us as it was for Peter that day on the seashore.