Is the Christ adventure over for Peter? He is back at his fishing. Could it be that the great dream has evaporated? And now, empty nets and, without his Lord, an empty life.
Through the trailing morning mist something, someone, is dimly visible on the shore. With a strong voice He is calling across the water, asking about the catch. Learning that the night’s work had been futile, He gives advice that immediately results in a harvest so great that the net is strained to the limit.
“It is the Lord!” The exclamation merges with the splash of Peter as he plunges into the water, anxious to reach the shore faster than any boat could take him.
Mercifully, thankfully, the first words of Jesus were not reproachful. Rather, Jesus had shown interest in their occupation; He had sympathized with them in their melancholy, and He had given them amazingly fruitful advice. When they came to shore, they saw a charcoal fire there.
The invitation is cordial and genuine: “Come and have breakfast” (John 21:12). Is not Jesus always calling us to communion with Himself? What He has prepared for us He wants us to share and to enjoy. If, in a spiritual sense, we have “toiled all night and caught nothing,” (Luke 5:5 NKJV) He waits to provide the spiritual nourishment that will help us overcome our disappointment. If we, too, have been guilty of denial, if we, too, have “warmed our hands” at an alien fire, if we, too, have turned aside from a sacred vocation, He bids us “Come.” The Master continually calls to those who spiritually hunger and thirst to “Come and dine.”
The breakfast on the beach becomes a sacramental meal. There had been three denials by Peter. Now, for a triple sin there is a triple forgiveness. “Do you truly love Me more than all these?” (John 21:15). Three probing questions, three penitent avowals, and three binding obligations. The first, “Feed My lambs.” The second commission: “Feed My sheep.” And the third obligation: “Follow Me!” Forgiven, reinstated, commissioned. Once again Peter would be a “fisher of men,” and by the grace of Christ he would follow to life’s end.
“More than all else” love is the kind of love Christ expects in return for His gift of forgiveness. It was this kind of love that changed a denier into a devotee. As we seek to follow Christ, let us be sure that we are motivated by nothing less than “more than all else” love.
Arnold Brown, With Christ at the Table