Photo, “Fishing Boat”, Sea of Galilee, Israel. Camera pointer: Galen C. Dalrymple
DayBreaks for 1/22/16: Holy Land Lessons: The Courage to Seek Forgiveness
John 21:4-7 (NLT) – At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied. Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore.
The boat in today’s picture is indicative of what has happened on the Sea of Galilee. It is a modern day fishing boat we encountered on our way across the lake. People have fished on the sea of Galilee literally for millennia. Perhaps the most famous fisherman of them all, however, was Simon Peter. Not long before what is recorded in the passage above, Peter had denied knowing Jesus not once, not twice – but three times in one night. Then he went out and wept bitterly when the realization of his betrayal and cowardice hit him full force.
Michael Card wrote a song titled Stranger on the Shore that includes these lyrics:
In the early morning mist
They saw a Stranger on the sea shore
He some how seemed familiar
Asking what the night had brought
With taught anticipation then
They listen to His order
And pulling in the net
Found more than they had ever caught
The one He loved first recognized
The stranger there was Jesus
And he alone remembered
This had happened once before
The one who had denied Him
Who had once walked on the water
Jumped in and swam to Him
To be confronted on the shore
It is interesting that John was the first to recognize Jesus (perhaps because he probably had the youngest eyes of those in the boat), but Peter was the one who jumped into the water in order to reach the figure standing on the beach.
Why did Peter do this? I think it was because he wanted to see the expression on the face of Jesus in order to know what Jesus was thinking about Peter. As far as we know, Peter had never been able to be alone with Jesus or to seek forgiveness.
Peter may have been a coward on the night of the betrayal, but he was no coward on this day. It takes courage to seek out forgiveness. Most of us hate confrontation with those we have wronged and go to great lengths to avoid it. But Peter couldn’t. He was being eaten alive from the inside and needed to know that the Master he’d loved and followed would forgive him, and would, in fact, still love him. It takes humility – something else that was at times foreign to Peter who’d bragged he’d never betray Jesus, that he would die with him before such a thing happened.
So, Peter, dripping wet, stands on the sea shore, desperately seeking forgiveness in the eyes of the Master. And he found what he sought – and far more.
Is there someone you need to seek out, to ask for forgiveness? It takes courage. But Peter was set free on that beach from the demons that had haunted him since that night in Jerusalem. What he saw in the eyes and heard in the voice of Jesus changed all that.
Perhaps you need to see and hear that from Jesus, too. Seek him out, confess what you’ve done and your betrayal, and ask his forgiveness. It’ll set you free, just as it did Peter.
TODAY’S PRAYER: We need courage to be honest with ourselves, to humble our hearts, and to seek the face of those we have wronged, Lord. Will you give us that courage so we can be freed from our prison of shame and guilt? Thank you, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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