When You See Him

After Jesus’ resurrection some of the disciples, at a loss for what they should do, decided to go fishing (Jn 21:1-3). It was what they had always known; they were fishermen by trade before they started following the Lord. You might remember that Jesus called them to ministry by telling them He would make them “fishers of men” (Matt 4:19). So off to the boat they went, but their fishing expedition was fruitless, they fished all night but “caught nothing” (Jn 21:3) As they were returning to shore a man stood on the water’s edge. He called out “Friends haven’t you any fish?” (v. 5). When they said no, He told them “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some” (v. 6). And the catch was so large they couldn’t haul them in.

That was when John realized who the man was – “It is the Lord!” (v. 7). Peter abandoned the boat and jumped into the water to get to Jesus. When the crew and the boat reached the shore they all had breakfast together (v. 12). The Scripture says, “None of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord” (v. 12). This passage goes on to detail how Jesus reinstated Peter after the disciple’s betrayal and that is one of my favorite accounts in the Bible. But something different stood out to me this morning.

Before He called out to them from the shore, John said, “The disciples did not realize that it was Jesus” (v. 4). Their eyes were opened after the miraculous haul. Fishing then was very hard work and a fruitless night of fishing would be exhausting and discouraging. I can just imagine these weary fishermen coming in with downcast faces and bent shoulders. Much like you and me sometimes. Life can be so hard. Exhausting. Discouraging.

And then something happens and we realize “That’s Jesus!” The disciples had no idea that it was Him. Until after the miracle. We don’t either until He shows Himself in glory and power. This may be a difficult season for you. You may be exhausted and discouraged. But Jesus is there and He’s about to pull off the miracle you need. You may not see Him yet Beloved, but keep scanning the shore. Keep looking up. He said He’ll be with you always (Matt 28:20) and He never breaks a promise.

Holding onto Hope

I had hoped in a dream that I believed was God’s plan for me – it was exciting and I was filled with anticipation.  But when my life turned in a different direction, I set my backpack full of dreams down and shuffled off on this unwanted new path.

The Bible mentions several people who stood at the same crossroads.  Moses, Elijah, and Naomi come to mind.  Peter and several of the disciples, uncertain of where their lives are going after Jesus’ death, dejectedly went back to fishing (John 21).  And then there are two of Jesus’ followers walking on the dusty road to Emmaus when they encounter a stranger.  They tell him about Jesus (isn’t that a kick), sadly saying, “We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21).  They saw their lives going in a completely different direction than they expected.

Part of the problem is our understanding of the word “hope.”  We say, “I hope it doesn’t rain out the picnic today.”  “I hope he asks me to the prom.”  “I hope you feel better soon.” – but these are spoken like “wishful thinking.”  The Bible portrays hope as “an attitude of confidently looking forward to what is good and beneficial.”  It’s not a hope in circumstances. It’s a hope in God. A hope that we can carry with us no matter what twists and turns life takes.  Better yet, it’s a hope that carries us no matter what.  That’s the kind of hope you and I need.

Remember Peter and those disciples on the road to Emmaus – the ones who had lost hope? Their stories didn’t end there.  At the end of that fishing trip was breakfast with the risen Jesus and restored hope for Peter.  At the end of the Emmaus road was the joyful realization that the stranger in their midst was the resurrected Lord Himself. 

Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but when dreams come true at last there is life and joy.”  I believe this is an assurance that our God-given dreams don’t get cast aside when life takes an unexpected turn.  Because God expected that turn, even if I didn’t, and somehow the dreams He planted in my heart will make the turn too. And when He brings them to reality, they may not look exactly like I envisioned, but they will be full of life and Joy.  And hope.