When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
Are you willing to leave it all behind for Jesus?
It’s a question that Christian types will ask under the auspices of something like “evangelism.” And for as much as it pains me to hear things like that, it’s not actually wrong.
I mean, its THE implicit question that Jesus hangs in the air when he meets Peter while fishing. The fisherman have finished their late night trolling (no one was dumb enough to fish during the day) and then this strange and bewildering rabbi shows up and says, “Hey, let’s go out and see what we can catch.”
Peter, inexplicably, agrees and before long they’re hauling in so many fish the nets begin to break and the boat starts to take on water.
Peter can’t handle the holiness of the moment and begs Jesus to depart from him because he is a sinful man. But Jesus calmly replies, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
Notice: Jesus doesn’t ask a question! There is just something about the profound wonder of the moment that compels Peter and the other fishermen to leave everything and follow Jesus.
Oftentimes when this passage comes up, we make it out into a moment of self-righteousness; it becomes a competition about who has given up more for Jesus. And, invariably, the everything isn’t everything but mostly just a list of material possessions.
And no doubt, Peter and the others gave up something material – they left the livelihoods of fishermen. But there is more to what is left behind for Jesus than just our jobs or our material comforts.
Sometimes we are compelled to leave something even more difficult behind.
The faithful life is not easy. When we confront the frustrations in another person, Jesus tells us to turn the other cheek. When we witness horrible behavior, Jesus whispers in our ears “judge not, lest ye be judged.” When we are so convinced of our own righteousness, Jesus shows up to remind us of how broken we really are.
But the kicker is that even though we are compelled to leave it all behind, we don’t.
We might have good days where we make the right decisions and speak the loving words that Jesus would have us say. But we invariably fall back into patterns and rhythms in which we are not the people God has called us to be.
And we’re not alone – the same thing happened to Peter! Peter, called from the boat, abandoned Jesus in his greatest hour of need and denied even knowing him.
But to whom does Jesus appear after the resurrection by the side of the sea?
One of the great mysteries of faith is that we are compelled to leave it all behind and Jesus knows that we won’t.
That’s the kind of love we encounter in the risen Jesus, a forgiveness in spite of, and because of, us.
No wonder we call it Good News.