“Friends,” Jesus calls to them, “haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
–John 21:5 NASB
Recently we were watching a movie in which the husband (played by Paul Bettany) suddenly turned on his wife, mocking and belittling her. My stomach churned as I thought about what it would be like to be in such an intimate relationship with someone who made fun of you like that. A few minutes later in the movie, Bettany’s character stands in the doorway and says in an emotionless voice, “I’m a monster, I’m horrible.” Bettany did a masterful job of acting like someone acting like they’re sorry when they’re not.
That scene came to mind as I was thinking about the early interaction between Jesus and Peter in Luke 5 when Peter is cleaning his nets after a fruitless night of fishing and Jesus shows up on the beach. After asking Peter to put out a “little way” from the land so that He could teach the crowd, Jesus turns to Peter with a new request: “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4 NASB 95).
I wonder what was going on in Peter’s brain in those few seconds before he answers Jesus. Whatever it was that made him decide to follow Jesus’ advice, there was a profound change in Peter when that advice turned out to be sound. After hauling in the catch, Peter falls at Jesus’ feet saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). Peter’s response feels appropriate; when I come face-to-face with my sinfulness, I just want to run and hide. But Jesus’ response wouldn’t allow Peter to do that. “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10).
That scene came to mind as I was thinking about the later interaction between Jesus and Peter in John 21 when Peter had decided to go out fishing again and had experienced a fruitless night of fishing, again.
“Friends,” Jesus calls to them, “haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
And as soon as he heard that, Peter jumped into the water to get back to land, back to Jesus, as soon as he could.
I wonder what went through Peter’s mind as he swam back to shore. Whatever it was that made him jump in the water that morning, he did so with fresh memories of his sinful denial of Jesus – but this time his sinfulness didn’t move him to withdraw from Jesus’ presence, but to catapult him toward Jesus, his friend, his Lord.
Have you experienced any realization of a sinful habit or pattern in your life recently? What was your initial response? It may have felt appropriate to want to hide, but the truth is, being in Jesus’ presence is a lot more fitting, both as a heart response, and what is truly necessary. In hiding, our desires become clouded by our anxious thoughts of getting caught. But in coming to Jesus, we find that forgiveness overwhelms and calms our anxiety and gives us the opportunity to hear Him say once more, “You’re forgiven, so keep doing what I’ve called you to do.”
Today, ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of a time when your sin made you want to hide, and a time when your sin gave way to the desire for Jesus’ presence. What would life be like if every time you were confronted with your sinfulness, your desire for Jesus grew stronger?