He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 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” (John 21: 6-7).

Peter left and wept bitterly. He wasn’t present at the cross. He did check out the empty tomb. Peter said that he was going fishing, back to the old routine, back to what he used to do before Christ entered. Maybe you know the sad experience of slipping back into old habits and the empty feeling – like falling off the wagon after being sober awhile, reverting back to a destructive sin, or returning to a negative way of behaving or communicating after you’ve made so much progress. Like our backsliding, the disciples fishing expedition is fruitless. By morning, they caught nothing. Jesus calls to them, “Try your nets on the other side of the boat.” Suddenly, the catch is overwhelming.

The disciples did not recognize Jesus standing on the shore. They weren’t looking for Jesus. As they began to pull in the great catch of fish, John figures it out exclaims to Peter, “It is the Lord!” He knows the signature of Christ. Peter and John were fishing together when Jesus first called them. Then like now, they were told to try the other side of the boat and hauled in a large amount of fish after catching nothing. That day, they left everything to follow Him.

Jesus is doing a little fishing Himself, casting His net to bring His followers back to Himself. More specifically, Jesus is reeling Peter back to his calling to be a fisher of men. Hearing that it’s Jesus, Peter, gets excited and leaps into the water swimming toward Him. I wonder how many strokes it took before reality set in and Peter remembers the denial, the haunting shame and the guilt. “I can’t see Jesus. I lost my right to enter His presence.” Have you ever wanted to talk to God, but guilt condemned you? Satan is right there to accuse us of our sins: “Ah, ah, you can’t talk to God. You’ve sinned, you’ve failed, you’re blowing it right now. God’s not accessible to someone like you.” But, actually God says in Hebrews 10:17, “I will remember their sins no more.”

Adapted from “For Pete’s Sake” by Rev. Dr. William A. Lewis