By Elizabeth Prata
Peter and the disciples had left their fishing professions when Jesus said ‘Follow me’. For three years the disciples saw amazing things like miracles and signs. They heard holy, perfect preaching. They saw crowds swell and they saw crowds dwindle away. They even saw a crucifixion! They heard of a resurrection, too, Mary came breathlessly to the disciples and said ‘I have seen Him!’ Remember, this is the famous race between Peter and John, and John wrote (‘I got there first’), lol. They saw the empty tomb and the folded head covering, and believed. Resurrection!?
Mary was instructed to tell the men to go to Galilee to a mountain He had designated there. (Matthew 28:10). Jesus appeared to Simon a few other times before the lakeside appearance at the Sea of Galilee/Lake Tiberias. (Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5).
So sometime between day 8 post resurrection and day 40 when He ascended, Jesus made various appearances to Peter and the others. They were told to go to a mountain in Galilee and wait. So they trudged the far distance from Jerusalem to Galilee, it must have taken some time to get there.
Once there, they went to the mountain. They waited. And waited. But Peter being Peter, impetuous action filled, did not wait.
The in-between time was crushing, I imagine. What has happened? They had to get their minds wrapped around all they had seen. Their finite minds had seen infinite things. They adjusted to a new way of life and a new reality. They had hopes, the Messiah was here! NOW all things would be different! But then He was crucified and died. He was alive again, but only making spot appearances. They had no direction, no firm grasp of ‘the next thing’. Drifting along from location to location was OK as long as they were following Jesus, but now what? OK, go to the mountain.
Peter couldn’t wait. He said “I’m going fishing.” (John 21:3). As far as I know, Lake Tiberias is not on a mountain, lol. The others said, ‘OK we’ll go with you.’ Predictably, they caught nothing.
In Jesus’ “follow me” call to discipleship, Jesus had told Peter that He would make him fishers of men. But after it all seemed to come crashing down, Peter abandoned that call to ministry to return to…what he knew. To what was familiar. To a profession he understood and felt comfortable with. Muscle memory, casting and hauling nets. Heating pitch for the boat. Sewing nets. Not waiting. Not praying. Not watching. Not waiting. Fishing.
Waiting is hardest. Jesus has put a call on the life of every Christian, first to be obedient to the Great Commission in general, and specifically to worship and work inside a local body of believers employing the specific gifts the Spirit has delivered to each of us. But as we go along our Christian walk in life, there are periods of intense activity, and periods of what feels like stasis. Periods where it seems like nothing is happening or you’re walking through molasses. That is the time we need our patience the most. Don’t go fishing.
It’s tempting to just go back to what we know and feel comfortable with. I know it’s admittedly hard waiting during this time for the next thing to manifest. What do we think we are waiting for? The rapture? We’re always waiting for that. (Philippians 3:20; Titus 2:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6). Persecution? We’re always ready for that, it is something Jesus said we WILL have in this life. (John 16:33). The collapse of a nation? He is always working among the sinful nations, all the nations that forget God shall be turned to Sheol. (Psalm 9:17). Judged were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, Tyre, Sidon, Amalekites, Moabites, Nineveh, Edom, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Philistines, Israel, Judah, the Flooded world…but not America? Perhaps now is the time for American to be judged as a nation in the scales of God’s justice, because we are found wanting.
We know all these things, but it takes a while to get our minds wrapped around it. So what are we waiting for in these 2021 days? We are waiting for the things we have always been waiting for, the glorious appearance of Jesus, the kingdom to come, trouble and persecution. Knowing these things, let us not become impatient, nothing is any different today than it was last January when all things seemed ‘normal’. We keep doing what we have always done. Don’t go fishing. We pray, learn our Bible, speak of Jesus, witness to others in word and deed, attend church, repeat. The steadiness of our consistent walk will help others.
And one warning: Speaking of others- The disciples were told to go to a mountain in Galilee and wait. The 11 went. But after a short while, Peter said “I’m going fishing”. And the others followed him! (John 21:3). Be careful of your own walk, others will follow you. If you are a leader, influencer, someone locals look up to, what you will do, they will emulate. So watch what you do, stay strong and steady! Continue being that thread in the center line of your walk, not wavering, walking in Him, joyful, proud of our Savior, calm that He will return, even while facing persecution, marginalization, suppression.
I know it’s hard, but be joyful anyway. (I’m preaching to myself, it’s hard for me to be joyful staring into the gaping maw of persecution, potential country collapse, judgment or anything else we’re expecting in 2021). Don’t go fishing. Substitute the waiting for those things to waiting for Jesus, joy, eternity, holiness, being free from sin, meeting fellow saints on the road paved with gold.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)