A few days after everything went down - arrest, beating, crucifixion, death, resurrection - Jesus starts appearing to His friends. If you have ever lost a close friend or family member, you know the days and weeks following are kind of surreal. You do not know which way is up for a while. You have to figure out what the new normal is. Imagine the state these boys are in. Young men, some of them still teenagers, have just watched their best friend die and come back to life. He has basically turned everything they learned as kids about life, religion, culture, God, on its head. And now he starts appearing to them and giving that power to them by the Holy Spirit. That is a crazy week.
We catch up with some of the guys in chapter 21 with John's telling the story. Peter, who seems to have risen to the top as the leader, despite his obvious shortcomings, says 'I'm going fishing' and the rest of the boys decide to go too. That is what I would do. The whole world just got extremely crazy for a while, I need to do something that is familiar. I am a fisherman, I am going fishing. I need some sense of normal in my life. I cannot handle anymore supernatural, high intensity, life changing things. I cannot handle anymore emotional roller coaster.
Of course, Jesus is always in control and had a plan for the morning. So they fished all night and did not catch anything - that is kind of normal. Jesus is waiting at the shore at daybreak and shouts out to them, "boys, got any fish?", a frustrating question after you have been out fishing and come back empty handed. 'Put your nets down on the right side of the boat, I think you'll find some there now.' Of course, some of them had heard that before, a few years back and it worked. They put down the nets and bam! 153 large fish. More than the nets would normally hold, but they held. John clues in, "it's the Lord". Peter freaks out and jumps in to swim to shore - he tends to be a little overly spontaneous at times. They get to shore and drag the fish in and guess what is waiting: breakfast.
This is what I love about this situation. The boys have had the most intense time of there life in the past week - spiritually, mentally, emotionally - and do not know which way is up. Jesus shows up and says, 'boys, let's have breakfast. Let's sit here, chill out and do something normal, and I'm here to hang out with you.'
Life is like this; highs, lows, roller coasters, normal, mundane... it's just life. Here Jesus is showing up in powerful ways with the Holy Spirit, and in everyday normal ways with the Holy Spirit. It's the same for you and I as it was for the disciples. We go to conferences and have amazing spiritual experiences then Monday morning we have a spiritual hangover. We feel drained. Our head is spinning from the things we heard and experienced. We need to know Jesus is there in those times too. We have amazing spiritual experiences where we hear the Holy Spirit telling us he loves us or he has some task for us or some word to share, the next day we're questioning if that was really Him. We need to know Jesus is there in those times.
After Jesus says, "come have some grub”, I love this line. "None of the disciples dared to ask Him, 'who are you?'. They knew it was the Lord." The same Holy Spirit that let them in on the secret that Jesus was the Messiah was telling them now that this was Jesus. Sometimes (often for me), after we have these spiritual experiences with Jesus, we get a little voice of doubt brewing up. You will recognize it - it sounds like you saying, "was that real?", "was that really Jesus?", "would Jesus really use me that way?", "could He really love me that much?" That is not the Holy Spirit. That is the other chump that Jesus made a public spectacle of at the cross when he took God's wrath against our sin, gave up his life and then didn't stay dead.
I am certain the boys were hearing some of those voices the night before when they went fishing. I would bet they were questioning some of the stuff they saw and experienced in the past 3 years. Maybe they figured it would be easier to just go back to being fishermen if all that stuff Jesus had told them was coming true. But Jesus had a plan for these guys and he has plan for you too. What you need to know is that He is with you the same way in the spiritual battles as he is in the mundane breakfast. He just loves you so much he wants you to know He is with you whatever you're doing; preaching the Gospel to the masses or catching fish to pay the bills, healing the blind or coaching soccer, walking on water or walking the dog. If Jesus is in your life, he is your life.
When John is writing this little account of what happened (and at other times) he refers to himself as "the one Jesus loves". It always bugged me when I read that. I thought John was pretty full of himself and the other guys must get annoyed by this. But now when I read it I realize, John just got it. He understood, long before the rest of them, that Jesus really loved him. He loved Him when he made him, he loved him when he left heavens glory, he loved him when he called him to come follow, he loved him when he went to the cross on Friday, he loved him when he got up from the tomb, he loved him when he gave him the Holy Spirit, he loved him when he made breakfast and hung out on the beach (when he could be hanging out in Heaven with his father and the angels). He loved him when he was a broken young man, he loved him when he was old and tired. He loved him when he took him home. He was the one Jesus loved. And so are you. Say it out loud. I know it feel weird, I know it feels undeserved, but it is true. I am the one Jesus loves. You are the one Jesus loves. He loves you enough to show up in your life when it is a great day or a terrible day. He loves you enough to give you the Holy Spirit and have breakfast with you. He loves you enough to rescue you from sin and death and every other affliction that comes your way. He loves you enough to lay down his own life so you can have an abundant one.
You, me, John, Peter, it does not matter, we are all the one Jesus loves.
While Jesus is hanging out with the guys he turns to Pete and says, Rocky do you love me? He says it three times in fact. I imagine Peter was getting annoyed by the third time. But I think this was kind of a trick question and Peter didn't get it at first (the way most of us don't get it). I think Jesus was trying to show him the truth that we only love Jesus because he loved us first. John would have got it the first time. I think the hidden question for Peter was, do you know I really love you. None of us can love God unless we know we are loved. None of us can understand how any of this following Jesus thing works except if we know Jesus loves us. None of can see the kingdom of heaven at work until we get some revelation that Jesus loves us. None of us can serve God unless we know he has served himself up in the greatest display of love the world has ever seen.
You are the one Jesus loves. Read the rest of His story and see just how much. Have breakfast with him this week and see what he says.