“I am going fishing” Peter says.
He says this after the Resurrection of Jesus…. after the Empty Tomb, after the appearance in the Upper Room twice… To be clear, Peter’s not planning a night out for him and his boyz to hang out. He is still overwhelmed with guilt and shame from his denying Jesus at the moment he needed him on Good Friday. One considered the leader, Peter’s not sure where he even fits in anymore among the 12 – well, now 11 since Judas is also gone. The Joy of Easter is not able to penetrate the heart of Peter.
“I am going fishing” he’s going back to the life he knew before… his life’s before Jesus. He’s probably unsure if Jesus is ready to appoint someone else as the one who should be in charge… if one thing’s for certain, he sure wasn’t Jesus’s “rock” on Good Friday. He is revisiting his previous life as “Simon” – the name he went by before Jesus named him Peter. Off in those thoughts, his failures being played over and over in his head, perhaps he figures going back and doing something he was good at before would help, help him to figure out who he was. And the poor guy can’t catch a break. He has an awful night fishing. Another empty net. Another insult to add to another defeat…
A voice calls out: throw the net to the other side. The voice, the direction sounds familiar… He had been told to do this another time – years earlier – when he was first coming to know, coming to love Jesus. He remembers that other time, that other time when he was trying to figure out what Jesus saw in him this lowly fisherman. Once again, Jesus repeats the miracle. An abundant catch of fish. Abundance… Jesus makes it clear – that is who He is – Abundance of God’s love, God’s mercy, God’s forgiveness. Which causes Peter to jump out of the boat to run to Jesus – He remembers that day from years ago . And maybe He starts to remember the abundance of love that Jesus has – even for him. Maybe that is the beginning of Peter not just receiving Jesus’ forgiveness for him – but Peter learning to forgive himself.