This morning’s Gospel reading is Luke 5.1-11, the story of the miraculous catch and the calling of the first disciples. John’s Gospel doesn’t have this story but there is a remarkable parallel right at the end. After the resurrection, after they’ve met with Jesus several times, Peter decides to go and fish.
Afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered.
He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.John 21.1-6
Where Matthew ends with the great commission and Luke with the road to Emmaus, John chooses this story. What is he telling us? Perhaps it is a reminder to Peter and the others that although everything has changed after the cross and resurrection, in some ways nothing has changed. The power of Jesus is still present just as it was when they first met him, if they will only listen to him.
It also reminds me of something David Adam wrote in his book Walking the Edges. Jesus was often in the borderlands, on the fringes of society, at the boundary between Jew and Gentile. As he clashes with the religious authorities he is edged out of the synagogue, out of the temple, out of the city, and then finally out of life itself. And in all of this he looked not for security or safety but followed the call of his father.
We need to recognise the boundary places in our lives and our ability to enter into new worlds of experience. So many boundaries are of human fabrication which say, ‘this far and no further’, when in reality we can go on. We need to reawaken to the reality that the world is far larger than our narrow vision …
Faith does not come without effort on our part, faith asks us to move out of our limiting security. God will call but we must open our ears. God will present himself to us, but we must open our eyes. God will offer us his love, but we must open our hearts.David Adam, Walking the Edges, pp8-9
Peter seems to retreat to his old, familiar work, to his comfort zone. But Jesus reminds him of his calling, reminds him of that first experience of God’s power. The story continues with Peter’s reconciliation following his earlier betrayal; his path is now set and he too ventures out into the borderlands, following the call of God.
Right now we are experiencing life very differently as so many of our boundaries have changed. Normality will be restored, but when that happens will we just revert to familiar ways or will we move forward to a ‘new normal’? Where is God calling us next?