JOHN 21: 1-19
APRIL 18, 2010
My mother never cared much for my beard. She did not say it, but I knew that she preferred me clean shaven. So on a recent trip to Vero Beach, Florida, where they once lived and died, I shaved my beard, took the shavings to a pond near where they had lived and tossed the shavings into the pond. It was a present to my Mom.
Had she asked me, "Terry, do you love me more than your beard?" I would have answered her much like Peter answered Jesus. "Mom, you know that I love you," I would have said. But that was not the question. My Mom, if she had ever asked me this question would have been trying to bring me to a decision: the beard or Mom, what is my choice. My answer would have been trying to have it both ways, and not change a thing.
Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus more than all these fish that Peter caught. While they were all having breakfast, Jesus could see that Peter was eyeing all those fish sitting on the beach, losing their freshness and market value. It is all well and good that Jesus is risen, but Peter is first a fisherman. He wants to love Jesus and change nothing about his own life, so Peter says, "Yes Lord, you know that I love you." He does not direct his answer to the question of choice. He wants fish and Jesus. This is our spiritual struggle. What priority does Christ hold in our life? This can be a lifelong struggle.
The Good News is that Jesus does not wait for Peter to make a choice in favor of Jesus. Peter is invited to ministry even while he struggles with this spiritual question. We do not have to be perfect for God to invite us to be a witness to the Good News of God's love and salvation. Sheep and lambs do not eat fish. Peter will not have to be a fisherman in the future to take up the invitation of Jesus. But even if he does continue to fish will he love and keep Jesus in mind even when the net is empty, and the tasks and projects of life seem to go nowhere?
God may invite us to do something new, but for most of us the invitation is to put God into the middle of our daily lives, especially when we seem to come up empty in whatever we do. How we respond to things not going our way is a tremendous witness to others who hunger for a God of love, and acceptance, who is with us in darkness and light.