The Risen Christ Shows His Competence

April 26, 2017

4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. (John 21:4-8)

Yesterday’s post stopped the action in John’s post-resur- rection storytelling, in order to appreciate the fact that Jesus’ disciples found themselves wanting to get back to “real life.” So they set out fishing; bobbing on the Sea of Galilee they are in their comfort zone and earning a living. But these professionals are unable to catch any fish this night.

So, tired and discouraged, the fishermen see a figure on the beach. They don’t recognize him, but he calls out teasingly, “Bad night, huh? You caught nothing?” I’ve seen and heard fishermen josh each other like this; you have to have thick skin to withstand the humiliation of an empty net. But it is always wrapped in empathy, because every angler has been there.

The Man on the Beach calls out again with a suggestion to cast the net on the other side of the boat. I wonder what Peter and his crew were thinking: Gee, why didn’t we think of that? or Who does he think he is? or Really? You think moving the nets five feet is going to make a difference? Apparently the suggestion is accepted, as the disciples haul the net up and over to the other side without verbalizing any resentment or doubt. Immediately, the net fills with fish, and the catch is so heavy they can’t even lift it into the boat! At this moment, John recognizes the Man on the Beach as the One who had fed the five thousand souls with five loaves and two fish, as the One who had turned water into wine, as the One who was raised from the dead. “It’s the Lord!” Forget the fish! Eager Peter dives into the water in order to greet the Savior face to face.

This passage contains several gentle reminders of the surprises that await us from the Risen Christ.

  • Jesus is present, whether we recognize him or not. The mist may obscure our view, or our expectations may be low. In any case, Jesus is closer than we think! He can see what is happening and recognizes our struggles. He is not compelled to jump in to fix our messes or correct our techniques, but he is watching and is quietly available.

  • Jesus can do anything better than we can, despite our expertise. It is so important for us to appreciate how competent Jesus is. Dallas Willard says it best:

Our commitment to Jesus can stand on no other foundation than a recognition that he is the one who knows the truth about our lives and our universe. It is not possible to trust Jesus, or anyone else, in matters where we do not believe him to be competent. We cannot pray for his help and rely on his collaboration in dealing with real-life matters we suspect might defeat his knowledge or abilities.
And can we seriously imagine that Jesus could be Lord if he were not smart? If he were divine, would he be dumb? Or uninformed? Once you stop to think about it, how could he be what we take him to be in all other respects and not be the best-informed and most intelligent person of all, the smartest person who ever lived? (Divine Conspiracy, 94).

  • When Jesus does something, the result can be spectacular. I have had occasions of writer’s block, analysis paralysis, and obvious incompetence, but as long as I insist on doing a task myself without help, God actually steps back. But if I ask for help, Jesus enters in with aid, ideas, energy, and power. The outcome is significantly better than I could have expected on my own and therefore God must get the credit!

  • We (sometimes) recognize Jesus after the fact of his intervention, but forget to ask him for help beforehand. How many times a day do I muddle through an issue or problem without asking for God’s help? When I finally remember to pray, and God answers in some observable way, it is face-palm time. Why didn’t I ask earlier?

  • Sometimes, we can be casting our nets in the wrong direction, investing in a course of action that cannot bear fruit. Jesus wants to redirect our efforts to those that will be successful. We may have been praying for something that is not God’s will. We may have attempted a logical career path, but Jesus had something unusual in store for us. The fact is, in our fallible state, we do make mistakes. We’re not referring to moral error here, just plain mistakes. I mean, there was nothing wrong with the disciples fishing from one side of the boat. In this case, I think Jesus was having a little fun with them and wanted to teach them a lesson about his ability!

You and I may not need fishing lessons, but we do need life lessons. The Risen Christ is present, teaching us those lessons, inviting our trust in his abilities, and is ready to act for his glory and our benefit. Just a reminder: if Jesus had died and not risen again, nothing I have written here would be true. But Jesus is alive, hearing our prayers, helping us, teaching us, and loving us!

 

Advertisements

2 Responses to “The Risen Christ Shows His Competence”

  1. emd5542 Says:

    Thank you, Mary. I’ve shared this with a friend who likely senses she’s been walking through fire in recent months but who trusts our living Lord for presence and wise counsel. God does deliver but not as we may anticipate. That is indeed a praise.

  2. BruceBenPope Says:

    Thank you so much! Bruce >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s