The man sits alone, on shore, near the fire he just built.
Orange and gold waves waltz with the morning sun.
The men in the boat are too tired and hungry to argue with the man’s request, so they toss the net. It slaps the water and starts to sink, just as it had done—to no avail—all night long.
One man yawns, another closes his eyes and rests his head on the side of the boat. The others sit and stare. All listen to waves slap a lullaby against the bow.
No one expects—
The boat pitches and lists as if hit by Jonah's whale.
Seasoned fishermen scramble for the net.
“My God the net’s going to break!”
My God?...it’s Him
“It’s Him—my God!"
Usually, folks take off clothes before jumping in the water, but not this man, he puts them back on, and plunges into the sea.
The man on shore stands, crosses his arms, and laughs right out loud. You needn’t put your cloak on, to come to me. But, it shows evidence of another cloak you needed to wear—humility. It suits you well, my friend. Well done.
“Pull!” The weight of the men, the weight of the fish, the boat nearly flips, the net nearly rips…but the boat holds steady and the net holds fast.
Splash after splash, the swimmer kicks his way toward shore.
It’s Him. I know it’s Him.
I’ve got to reach Him.
I’ve got to repent.
Tell Him I’m sorry.
A wave hits his face—he gulps water instead of air.
It’s not him…
It’s not. Turn back.
The men in the boat groan with the load. One yells, “Hey, come back! Help us lift!”
Go back. Don’t abandon your friends.
He shakes his head, clinches his jaw and continues to stroke arm over arm toward shore.
He won’t forgive you. It’s too late. You abandoned Him. You loser.
The swimmer slows his pace. Why’d I jump? I always do that—jump first, think later. I should’ve stayed in the boat. That’s where I belong. I’m a fisherman—for fish, not men. Now, He’ll think I’m still the same old impetuous, loud mouth traitor…maybe I am. After all, I turned my back on my Friend…not just my friend, but the Son of God. I denied Him; not once, but thrice. Three times…I’m doomed. I should just quit…sink—let the sea have me. I’m not worthy.
He stops kicking, his arms go limp. He releases air from his lungs, and slowly descends.
The men in the boat are busy holding the net and rowing toward shore.
The Man by the fire walks to the edge of the water. Remember when I called you to become a fisher of men? It was a great catch that day… remember? I heard what you said: “At your word, I’ll let down the net.” I also heard what you were thinking: “This is dumb…why should I let some preacher tell me how to fish? I know what I’m doing.” …and then, the net broke. This time Peter, the net won’t break—and neither will you.
His lungs burn.
The light fades as darkness pulls him deep.
Death squeezes. Yes, this is where you belong—this is your new home.
Life bubbles from his lips.
All goes black.
All goes still.
But for the beating of his heart.
But then, this still, small, voice…Remember when I called you to become a fisher of men? It was a great catch that day…
That was a good day—that’s when I started to see Him for who He is—The Christ. It was before I blew it…before I denied Him…before I sank. But that was then. It’s too late…
Jesus takes one step into the water and stretches out His hand. Peter bar Jonah, I once prepared a fish to swallow a man named Jonah. Something I don’t want to repeat. I want to restore, but the choice is yours… “Come.”
It’s so cold, so dark—so familiar. I remember this place. I’ve been here before… I remember the day, Jesus told me, “Come” and I got out of the boat and walked on water. I actually walked on water. Me. But, like me, like always, I failed. I looked away. I turned from Him. I sank. So, here I am again, in this cold, darkness. It’s my destiny, my fate. I should have drowned that day…but His hand. He reached out His hand...
A brilliant Light penetrates the darkness and Peter catches a glimpse of His hand—only it’s different, wounded—pierced. Alive.
That same voice echoes through the watery grave, “Come.”
Hope becomes a buoy.
Peter claws toward the Light, and finally staggers to shore, toward the Man by the fire.
But then, he remembers…it was by a fire, I denied Him.
He stops. His eyes drop from the Man to the fire, to the sand. Tears can’t be seen for the water from the sea, but they’re there, just the same. How arrogantly I declared my allegiance above the others. How gently Jesus warned; “Three times, you will deny you even know Me.”
And now, He repeats three times—three times—the question and the call; one for each denial. “Peter, do you love Me, more than these?”
Peter can’t repeat the words, more than these. He can only drop to his knees. Not trusting his own heart, he whispers; “Yes, Lord, you know all things, you know I love you.”
Jesus smiles. He doesn’t see the mistakes, the denials, the loser, the quitter, the sin. He sees a man, a friend, a brother, a winner; baptized, fresh, clean and born again.
He helps Peter to his feet. Together they sit by the fire…and feast.
Story inspired from John 21
Dear friend, He still knows...still hears...no matter how deep, no matter how far—He reaches out a nail scarred hand and whispers “Do you love me?”
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. Revelation 3:20