“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net on 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 of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out 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, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.'”(John 21:4-12a)
Poor Peter! He is waiting for Jesus to show up, and he’s getting twitchy. He’s not good at sitting still. So he says to the other disciples, “Let’s go fishing,” and they do. They catch nothing all night.
And of course Jesus shows up at sunrise—you knew He would, didn’t you? and basically re-enacts what happened when He first called these men to be His disciples (see Luke 5). Just like the first time, Jesus offers advice, the men do what Jesus says, and they catch a ton of fish.
John is no idiot—he recognizes this story! So he tells Peter, “It is the Lord!”
Well, Peter hears that and he wastes no time. It’s Jesus standing there on the shore—the One Peter almost lost forever—the One who died, but is alive again, and who has already made it clear He forgives Peter all the terrible things he said on the night he denied Jesus. Peter isn’t going to wait till the boat gets to shore—even if that’s just five minutes. He’s going to swim as fast as he can! And he’s not going to do it in his underthings, either. He puts back on all his clothes to show respect to Jesus before he jumps overboard. Who cares if he has to sit around wet all day? Jesus is here!
Just look at the love and the joy and the eagerness Peter has to be with Jesus. These are the marks of a man who has been forgiven—a man who knows he did a terrible thing to the Lord he loved, but Jesus has forgiven him completely and wiped all of that out. These are the acts of a man in love—a man who can think of nothing better than to be with Jesus, the Savior who loves him.
And it continues. Jesus says casually to all the disciples, “Why don’t you bring some of those fish you’ve just caught?” And Peter jumps up, quick as a flash, and goes off to handle the job himself. He doesn’t wait for anybody else. Singlehandedly he drags the net ashore and fetches the extra fish. But even that’s not enough for him. Because it looks like he counted the fish, too. How else did they know there were 153 of them?
This is love. This is joy. These are the actions of a man who knows that Jesus loves him—even to the point of death and resurrection. And we stand in the same place Peter did, because Jesus loves us with that same forgiving, redeeming love. What else can we do for Him but love Him back?
We Pray: Heavenly Father, give us the eagerness of Peter to serve and love Your Son. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on April 28, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved
1. What is a small thing, even a silly thing, that you have done for love of someone else?
2. Did it feel unimportant when you did it?
3. How do you think Jesus feels about the small acts of love you do for Him?