DayBreaks for 5/02/17: Never Going Back
From the DayBreaks archive, May 2007:
Remember the story in John 21 where Jesus appears on the shore and the disciples are out fishing? This is the third time Jesus has appeared to his disciples (the first two were apparently in the sealed room). It was still dark – early morning – for the best time to fish on the Sea of Galilee is night time. The disciples have worked all night and caught nothing (as Michael Card noted in Immanuel: Reflections on the Life of Christ, it was perhaps a good thing that Jesus called them away from fishing since they didn’t seem to be very good at it). Jesus gives them directions and a miraculous catch of fish results. At that point, John 21:7 tells us what happened: Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.
Why did Peter jump into the water? By reading the rest of the chapter it is clear that he swam towards the shore. Why not just stay in the boat and get there with the rest of the disciples? Perhaps he felt he needed time alone with Christ to sort out his guilt and shame over having denied Jesus thrice. Peter hadn’t had a chance to be alone with him (as John noted, it was his third appearance and both other times were in crowded groups that weren’t conducive to the intimate conversation that Peter needed to have with the Lord). Peter wasn’t going to let a little cold water stand between him and getting things straightened out with Christ. As Michael Card also noted, it is interesting that Peter didn’t swim the other way. I think I would have been tempted to do so. I wouldn’t have wanted to stand before the one I’d denied. But Peter knew Jesus better than I do and he knew that Jesus would accept him.
Why did Peter put on his cloak before jumping in the water? Let me ask you: how many of you put on your heavy coats before you jump into the pool? We usually take clothes OFF before we jump into the pool – we don’t want to be weighed down with anything when we get in the water for fear we might become entangled or weary and drown. Not so with Peter. I don’t know for sure why he did this, but I have a hunch. Here it is: I think at that instant in time, Peter (who just shortly before said, “I’m going fishing!” – perhaps indicating that he didn’t feel up to the challenge of being a fisherman of men), had made an irrevocable decision. He’d decided that he was going to follow Jesus and that he was never, ever again going back to the boat. That’s why he didn’t leave his cloak behind but took it with him. By taking it with him, he had no reason to ever return to the boat. But if he had left it in the boat, it would have been an excuse to “go back” and be tempted once again to forsake the call.
Like Peter, have you decided to not let cold water or past history stand between you and Jesus? Have you cast yourself overboard into water that is over your head and swam to Jesus? Have you taken everything with you so that you have no reason to turn back? The things we leave behind may sing a siren song to lure us back to our old haunts and old ways of life. Commit your future totally to him as Peter did, making sure that there is nothing to call you back to your old life!
PRAYER: How cleverly we try to deceive you Lord. We promise you over and over that we won’t do “that” sin anymore, but we cling to scraps and shards of it so that we have it nearby just in case we decide to go backwards. Forgive us. Empower us through your Spirit, let us leave the past behind us forever and move onward into a joyous eternity with You! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.