That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
A brief word about expectations.
For most of the day I’ve been thinking about the almost hypnotic draw that Jesus has over me. I do not say that to in any way suggest that I don’t do stupid things, I do. I fail, fall, and fight when it comes to the will and way of God in my life. I am intolerably stubborn and, at times, insufferably stupid. But, despite these fleshly proclivities, since God rescued me from the life of death that I was living there has never been anything that has had the compelling power to draw me like God.
I confess that even in those moments of rebellion, when I know for a fact that I’ve blown it, I find that I am compelled not to run away from my Father, but toward Him. Even when I feel the twinge of fright that I may be disciplined, there is something so amazing, so wonderful, so beautiful about Him that I cannot fathom anywhere that I would rather be than in His presence.
This verse in John 21 came alive for me today as I was thinking about this.
At this point in John’s story Peter had made an enormous mess of his future…at least he thought so. So he, along with several other disciples, went fishing, not knowing what the risen Jesus was really going to do (He was after all popping in unannounced on meals, disappearing from communion tables, and walking through walls – He wasn’t exactly easy to predict). After fishing all night and catching nothing they were near shore and Jesus was cooking breakfast on the beach. Peter looks at John who says, “It’s Jesus!” and so Peter does the only thing that makes sense: he jumps over the side of the boat.
Let me point out a couple of things and then let you go about your day.
Peter had walked on water during a storm a while back, Jesus had called him to step out over the edge of the boat and take a few steps. I’m not saying that Peter was expecting to jog across the lake on the morning in question, but I do think it’s important to point out that once you’ve walked on water, you can’t really go back to seeing a lake the same way. Kind of like once you’ve had kids life is forever changed, I imagine that walking on water is a similar experience. I half way think that Peter wouldn’t have been surprised if the waves on the Sea of Galilee had felt like a grassy meadow. Why else would he have jumped?
Peter who had denied Jesus three times, who had run from trouble in Gethsemane, who was nowhere to be found at the cross, who was huddled up in a locked room after the resurrection…this Peter who had done everything to destroy his relationship with Jesus couldn’t quite get it out of his mind that maybe this was the shepherd who’d left the 99 to chase the wanderer. Maybe this was the father who ran to the Prodigal. Maybe even fools get a second chance to purchase the field of treasure. See, what I believe happened that morning in John 21 is Peter finally began to believe what Jesus had been teaching for the last three years. Peter began to see God by looking at Jesus. Peter stopped wondering if he was going to be accepted and just said “to heck with it” and jumped. Peter had been infected by grace. And if there’s one thing I know about a grace infection it’s this: it is incurable.
Friends, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how badly you think you’ve failed. If you’ve tasted of the living water then you begin to be very unsatisfied with anything less. Even when we attempt to drink from other sources we find that their very best just isn’t enough anymore. Things that gave us great pleasure and meaning have far less potency once we’ve taken long pulls from the cup of God’s grace. Once you’ve walked on water, lakes are never the same. Ask Lazarus. Once you’ve been brought back to life, tombs don’t look quite as ominous. And when you’ve found the One who has pleasures forever more at His right hand, your expectations for everything else changes. It’s not a warning that many preachers offer their would-be converts, but an encounter with Jesus will ruin you for life to the lesser loves and skanky propositions that our world offers us each day.
May we leap out of the boats of half-pleasures and low expectations today. May we go to war with our proclivity to be satisfied with lesser things. May we throw aside every motivation for compromise. May we be ferociously dedicated to passing up the cups that others would give us and instead track down the source and then lay underneath the spigot of mercy, grace, and beauty and turn the handle wide open, full blast, unfiltered, and not just drink of living water but bathe in it.