Newsletter May 2017
No turning back
In the last chapter of John’s Gospel, we read about Jesus’ appearance to His disciples at the Sea of Tiberius, elsewhere called the Sea of Galilee. This appearance is different from previous appearances. On other occasions, Jesus had found the disciples gathered together in a room where He had suddenly stood in their midst and they had recognised Him. On this occasion, he finds them at the very place where He had first called them to leave everything they knew in order to follow him, and He finds them doing what they had been used to doing before - fishing.
So what was their reason for going back to what they had been called from? Was it discouragement? If so, why? They had seen Him since His resurrection; He had stood among them, He had spoken to them, and they had even touched Him. Should they not have been excited rather than discouraged? Should they not have been telling the whole world that their Lord had risen, just as He had foretold? Was the guilt of disloyalty and denial still weighing them down?
Many of us have had very real experiences of God’s presence. We may have had a powerful touch from God. We may have returned from a conference with a fresh commitment and a renewed determination. We may have experienced God’s healing touch, or sensed His love and comfort in a seemingly desperate situation. We may have received a prophetic word concerning God’s call for our lives. Yet often these “life changing” experiences with God seem to fade away quickly into distant memories. As we fail to answer Jesus’ call and follow Him whole-heartedly we feel that we have let the Lord down and consequently return to our old routine instead of walking in the fullness of Jesus’ resurrection life.
Then Jesus appears, standing on the shore. He asks them if they have caught any fish, and they reply, “No.” Jesus then directs them to cast out their net once again on the right side of the boat. As they follow His instruction, their net is full of fish, just as it was when He first called them three years earlier. Immediately John recognises the Lord. As soon as Peter hears John’s confession, He plunges into the water and swims to the shore to be with Jesus.
When God comes into our lives, He comes not simply to touch us but to change us. When He calls us, He does not intend for us to return to our past lives but to follow Him wholeheartedly, leaving all things behind that would hold us back. Just as He called those first disciples to catch people rather than fish, He calls us. His purpose for His followers has not changed. Our time on earth is limited, and our priority must be to declare His love and power to those around us.
Some things may be difficult to put behind, but what God gives us in exchange will always be far greater. He promises us true life in all its fullness if we will lay down our lives and prioritise His purpose. As He calls you, follow Him! Let His presence be not just a precious memory, but a daily reality as you walk with Him and serve Him. Don’t be held back by the guilt of past failures, but let Jesus restore you and remind you of His purpose for your life.