Stepping Beyond

– Easter Friday –

Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two more of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said, ‘I’m going fishing.’ They replied, ‘We’ll come with you.’ They went out and got into the boat but caught nothing that night.

It was light by now and there stood Jesus on the shore, though the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus. Jesus called out, ‘Have you caught anything, friends?’ And when they answered, ‘No’, he said, ‘Throw the net out to starboard and you’ll find something.’ So they dropped the net, and there were so many fish that they could not haul it in.

[John 21:2-6]

What is striking about today’s reading is the humanity of the disciples. They’d walked with Jesus for three years, seen his miracles, heard his teaching, and had committed to his mission, but the moment Jesus was gone, they went straight back to their old ways. They immediately returned to fishing. Is this not typical of us all? We so easily fall back to what we know. We fall back into our comfort zone, our space of familiarity, our area of competence, and yet Jesus is always calling us beyond it.

Even more surprising is Jesus’ response. He doesn’t reveal himself and call them in for a pep talk. Instead, he asks them if they’ve caught anything. Here he is asking them to reveal their failure. They have to acknowledge their reality – they’d caught nothing. Upon their acknowledgement, Jesus asks them to do something simple that doesn’t make a great deal of sense, but it requires the disciples simply to trust and obey. They do just that and, all of a sudden, “there were so many fish that they could not haul it in.” On their own, they’d caught nothing, but with Jesus, they caught more than they could manage. 

Though, like the disciples, we are often tempted to return to what we know and where we’re most comfortable, Jesus is always calling us beyond. Jesus has given us his Spirit so that we, like the disciples, can play a part in Christ’s mission to make disciples of all nations. 

Holy Spirit, give us the courage to step beyond our places of comfort and security and step into the mission Jesus has for us.


by Peter Pellicaan

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