When the wind turned just the right way, the smell of grilled fish made their stomachs growl. They had gone fishing but caught not a one. Someone was cooking fish as they were heading back to shore. It had been a rough few days for all of them. Perhaps their appetites waned with the flashbacks of the brutal murder of their Friend. Maybe their thoughts were a-swirl with having seen Him alive twice since the murder. How could it be? Had they hallucinated? The Fish Cooker interrupted their thoughts while standing on the shore shouting through hands forming parentheses around His mouth, “Did you catch any fish?” The gang of fisherman shook their heads and verbalized in the negative.
What happened next was a de ja vu: The Bystander asked them to throw their nets on the right side of the boat for a catch. The amazing number of fish they caught illumined them that this was no stranger. They had experienced this miracle before and there was only One Who could perform it.
Their seaside Host invited them to a breakfast picnic. There were awkward silences as nobody verbally acknowledged that this was Jesus. Peter had the least to say. He avoided eye contact with the Savior he’d denied after such a bold declaration of loyalty. Perhaps this was the closest proximity he’d had since that awful day that ended in his life’s bitterest tears. Jesus broke the ice when He addressed Peter directly. A dialogue ensued of questions about Peter’s love and answers that the love was indeed there. Love warmed Peter’s heart as he heard Jesus give him a life assignment that showed Peter had not been thrown away. Jesus hasn’t put you on the trash heap either if you’ve blown it and are repentant.
The next words from Jesus’ mouth I find chilling. The message is so hard to swallow that He cushions it in a metaphor. I’m glad the author interpreted it or I would have missed it. It was a hard message about the sort of death Peter would die. Ouch. True to human nature, Peter looks around to see if anybody else was going to get tough news too. John was in his line of sight so he asks, “Lord, what about him?” Can you see Jesus stop in His tracks and turn around to look Peter in the eye—like, “Oh no you didn’t just ask me that”?
He said, “If I want to let him stay alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow Me” (John 21:22). Jesus did a “nunyo” with Peter! We all need one of those from time to time. We tend to forget that God is not obligated to do anything on the group rate. What He gives any one of us to do or have or be is His prerogative. I see people doing something amazing for God and I wonder why He didn’t choose me to do that. I would have loved to have done what she is doing! If I had what she has, I could do ______. None of that matters.
The same is true on the flip-side. We have a hard row to work- a difficult marriage, a wayward child, a worrisome health issue, financial distress, an addiction, a coworker from Hell, whatever- and we wonder why others we know don’t seem to have those problems. We must remember that it is a comparison of apples and doorknobs -no comparison. God is doing what He is doing and it’s none of our business why He allows or doesn’t allow. It’s a hard word, but one that will save a lot of unnecessary headache. Run your own race and you will be plenty busy.
Even the hard words God gives us are couched in love. Self-condemnation is never the proper response to a holy rebuke-repentance is (Psalm 139:23).
So, let’s end with a question: What territory are you treading on that God says is not yours? Leave that jurisdiction today and humbly get back to the business He has given your hands to do. It is enough, it is wonderful, and it is His best plan for you.