The disciples had been on an emotional rollercoaster with the events of Good Friday and Easter, and I’m sure they were at the point of mental and emotional exhaustion so doing what humans do, they returned to what they knew best- in their case it was fishing.
The Sea of Galilee represented a safe harbour for several of the disciples. For the ones who were fishermen, it was what they knew. It was what they had done for years before Jesus came and called them to follow him.
The disciples had had three years of following a man that had shown them great things. They had been witnesses to miracles as the lame walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, and the hungry were fed. They had the scriptures opened to them through the teachings of Jesus. And, they had seen Jesus come back from the grave.
Jesus had given Peter a great new vision when he called him the rock on which he was going to build the church. But Peter had demonstrated he was human and anything but a rock when he denied Jesus three times. But here in today’s Gospel reading in John 21, Peter is being given the gift of another chance to fulfil the vision Jesus had set before him. It is not enough for Peter to declare his love for Jesus; he was told to feed the lambs of Jesus. He was given a second chance to do that.
We are given the grace of second chances so that God’s expectation for our lives can be met. We are after all only human and we might try to get it right first time but it doesn’t always work does it? After all, I was rejected at my first vicar selection conference, apparently I wasn’t typical vicar material. So when I was encouraged to go for the second chance, and I got through the selectors actually wrote on my feedback that “Kelvin will break the mould” ……… We are given second chances so that we can try again, sometimes we can even astound ourselves at where we end up.
The grace of second chances is repeated over and over again in scriptures: When Abraham and Sarah were beyond the age of bearing children, Isaac was born. Moses on the run from murder was called to go back and confront Pharaoh. Elijah at the point of suicide was challenged by God to get up and go back to spread HIS word, and Paul who on the way to Damascus to persecute the church he met Christ on the way and he ended up setting up churches and spreading the love of Christ around the Mediterranean. Our Gospel today is a story of being given second chances.
When life comes at us too fast, maybe we too need to pause, to pray for, and to ask for “second chances”. We need to have the courage that when we receive that second chance, that we use it as best we can to do the will of God for our life.
When God interrupts lives, as Jesus did the lives of the disciples early that morning by the Sea of Galilee, it has a way of bringing us face to face with what we should be doing.
We like to look back instead of looking forward. Peter might have protested, “Let somebody else feed your lambs. I will be satisfied with the just saying, ‘I love you.'” But would that be enough? If you love someone wouldn’t you ‘do something for them’? and if they love you enough in return, wouldn’t they give you second, third, fourth and on and on chances?
The opportunity for a second chance brings with it the challenge to change. Peter could no longer be comfortable to ease back into fishing. He now knew the journey he had set out on was not over. He was being given the gift of another opportunity to become what Jesus had envisioned for him.
All of us on our faith journeys will need this gift of another chance. We need to stay committed until we grow to be more as God would have us to be. What we do for God isn’t going to be achieved in a day is it! It could take a lifetime. To be faithful is not easy. We can’t simple wish for a better world, we need to be ready to work for it every day, to realize with each new day we are being given the gift of opportunity.
I can hear Jesus saying “Peter, if you really, really love me, you are going to walk away from the safe harbour of that boat and tend my flock. You have to let go and let God be in charge. You can’t hide forever.” Problem for each one of us is that Jesus is asking you the same question, are you going to work outside your comfort zone and share the Love of Christ?
Can you imagine for a moment as Jesus stood by the lake and looked out at Peter and the others fishing what he must have felt? Those on the boat were the heart of the team he had spent his ministry preparing to go and tell all the world the Good News. He had formed them in the community to be his body. They were his plan to spread the word and what was happening. They were spending their night fishing. Had they not heard or learnt anything from Him? Was it to all end here? If we count the number of disciples, there were seven of the original twelve fishing. Of course, Judas was gone, but four others had gone their separate way as well.
As the disciples in the boat came nearer to land, Jesus asks if they had caught anything. They answered they had not. So he told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat, which they did and were successful. Then they saw it was Jesus, and Peter in his excitement, jumped into the sea to get to Jesus, while the others brought the fish ashore. Jesus had already prepared a fire to cook some of the fish for breakfast, and they shared bread and fish together.
Now they were being confronted by Jesus; He asks Peter “Do you love me more than these?” Of course Peter replied that he did. Then Jesus answered all three times, “Then show it.” He called Peter to feed the lambs and tend his sheep. He was challenging Peter to do what he saw in Peter – the potential to be the foundation of the church. He was giving him the second chance to make up for denying he knew him. Well ladies and gentlemen, here’s your second chance, do you want to take it?
We all get these chances. I’ve told you before about John in our last church, out on life license for murder, a former drug dealer, he came to church with his girlfriend to have their baby baptised and he kept coming. He eventually became my deputy church warden. Changed man, given a second chance by Christ. What about you?
What does Jesus see in you? We, too, are being challenged to believe that not only can we have the grace of a second chance, but in that day we can change and in changing we can change the world around us. God understands we are human, through Christ we get the second chance are you willing to take it?