Life can be disheartening sometimes, can’t it? Particularly at the moment. I’ve been talking to many people who tell me that they are finding adjusting to the new rules difficult. Many have told me they feel it’s difficult even to hold a face to face conversation. It is almost as if we need to relearn the basics of socially interacting again, and the masks don’t help. I’m encouraged to find that the disciples also struggled with the basics at times.
In John’s Gospel (John 21:1-14), John gives us an image of the seven disciples floating out by the shores of Lake Galilee in the middle of the night. Having seen the risen Jesus they find themselves at a loose end waiting for their old lives to end and their new ones to begin. They float quietly on a lake but are totally unsuccessful at catching fish. Professional fisherman who can’t catch a fish. Hours go by but still nothing. When morning comes a stranger calls from the shore enquiring whether they’ve caught anything. They respond, probably rather irritably, “no.” The man gives them some advice; to cast their nets on the right side. Perhaps to humour him or out of desperation, they follow his advice and to their surprise immediately find a catch so large that the net can’t even be hauled on to the boat. It becomes evident that the stranger upon the shore is Jesus.
The message of the account harks back to Jesus’ words in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.” The message Jesus gives us is that without Him our lives will be filled with failure, much like the disciples floating on the lake in the darkness, unable to even catch a fish. But with Him, our ordinary lives can be immensely fruitful for Jesus. What’s so encouraging about this account is that the disciples are transformed by Jesus and His presence whilst going about their ordinary lives, and we can be too. They are moved from the aimless disciples incapable of catching a fish to Apostles with more fish than their boats can hold; a foreshadowing of what would happen in the book of Acts. The challenge for us is how can we be fruitful in our ordinary lives? The answer is through knowing Jesus is with us, and we are with Him. I’d really encourage you as you go about your ordinary lives this week to look for Jesus and His presence in our conversations and interactions. Let us see how our words and actions can serve Him.