April 17, 2020 (Friday) - New Dawn Rising - A Reflection on John 21:1-14

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 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. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

A couple of days ago, we spoke about shattered dreams, wounded hearts, and broken hopes (https://youtu.be/TEMrUVkPO5M). We saw that, when such things happen, we often come to a point of helplessness and hopelessness. We wonder, in addition to the existential question “Why?”, what happens next. Where do we go from here? What do we do? Today’s story has the answer and it is one of hope.

Like the other disciples, Peter had great plans. Our Lord Jesus had told him that he was going to be a fisher of men (see Luke 5:10). He had told Peter that he was going to be foundational to his church. Our Lord had also told him that he would give Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and that whatever he bound on earth would be bound in heaven.” (See Matthew 16:18-19). He had sent Peter out to heal the sick and drive out demons (see Matthew 10:10).

Oh, such great plans, such great hopes. And they were all dashed to the ground when Jesus died, leaving Peter wondering: “Now what?” He couldn’t even go around healing the sick and driving out demons as he once did because the Pharisees would have him crucified like they had the Lord. And, to make things worse, Peter had messed up big time by denying his Lord. So, Peter went back to fishing. He thought it was over. But was it? Jesus had plans for him, no?

And Jesus has plans for us too, no? Especially for those among us he has chosen to become fishers of men. Unfortunately, like Peter, we messed up too. Instead of becoming shepherds, like the Good Shepherd we claimed to follow, we became mini-dictators, lording it over people and fulfilling our own agendas. We pandered to our egos, we followed our desires, we relied on our wisdom, we depended on our strength. Oh, we messed up!

How was God to bring us to our senses? Well, he is using the current crisis as an opportunity to make things right. And to make us right. Cut off from all the things we believed were important, we now have the time to be alone with our Lord and listen to him. And as we do this, he will remind us of who he is, and who we are. He will remind us of his plans for us and his purpose for our lives. He will speak to us like never before, as he feeds us just like he fed Peter.

And then, just like he asked Peter, he will ask us the definitive question: Do you love me? And if we answer yes, he will tell us we need to show him that we do by looking after his people as good shepherds would look after their sheep. This crisis will eventually bring people to their senses, and as they turn towards God in repentance, there is going to be a great need for holy and anointed shepherds to guide them and grow them, to nurture them and nourish them.

Are you one of these people? Then prepare yourself. There is a new dawn rising.