Don’t Look Back

Posted: May 15, 2021 in Uncategorized

I’ve been reading the Gospels for my devotional readings this year, and today I am nearing the end of another trip through the life of Jesus. I was at the end of the book of John and that wonderful story where Jesus reinstates Peter. Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Each time it gets a little more painful for Peter, but there is a point to Jesus action. Peter would one day soon be the leader of a fairly new enterprise called the Church. This would be no small task, and one that would cost Peter his life, but before he went there, something else had to happen. Peter had to be reinstated. Three times Peter denied Jesus and so now three times he had to acknowledge his love for Jesus. What hit me today though was what happened just before the reinstatement.

Peter and the disciples had seen the resurrected Jesus, but He wasn’t always with them physically as He had been before. The disciples seemed to be unsure as to what to do next, so they did what we so often do. They went back to what they knew. They went out fishing. Do you do that? Faced with uncertainty do you revert to what you did before? It can be really easy to look back, but consider what would have been lost if the disciples had decided to give up on leading what would become the church and gone back to their boats. Even if they had been successful fishermen, those catches of fish would long since have been eaten and the church would not have been born. The point is simple. The disciples had gone from fishermen to becoming fishers of men and the message is clear, Don’t look back!

Jesus seems to have rewarded them with what would be their last catch. They were unsuccessful all night, so Jesus gave them a “flashback” of sorts. “Throw your nets on the other side of the boat.” It seems almost nonsensical that the width of a boat would make that much of a difference, but it did, because this catch was miraculous. Jesus was reminding them who He is, that He is the maker of all things and the provider of all things. 153 fish was the result of one act of obedience.

On the shore, Jesus had His encounter with Peter. Things had changed. Jesus asked the question, “Do you love me more than these?” I always wondered what these meant. Some assume Jesus was referring to the other disciples and, of course that could be the case, but I think it was something different. I think it was the fish. For Peter, the easy way out would have been to return to the sea and the nets and the hard life of a fisherman, which was a walk in the park compared to what was before him. The only way Peter could succeed in this new life was with the help of the Lord. And so Peter answered the question, three times with three affirmations of His love for the Lord, and three times the Lord answered Him with three variations of “Feed my sheep.” Don’t miss what that means. This was a change of assignment. Peter was no longer a fisherman. He was going to have to leave what He knew behind to become a shepherd, AKA a pastor. Fishing is easy, the fish swim into the net and they are caught, sheep (a metaphor for people) have minds of their own. This would be a much different calling and Peter needed to walk into it. The message is simple, no more looking back.

In life, it’s easy to revert to what we know. Even if it what we know is very uncomfortable, it seems to beat the discomfort of the unknown. The unknown requires faith and faith is the realm of God. Don’t look back. In Luke 9:62, Jesus reminds us, “Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Don’t get caught up in being unfit, that will surely get you looking back. Instead step forward in faith and keep moving into your calling. God is faithful. He will make a way. This to me has been a revelation, now the question is how have I been looking back and how do I move forward?

Don’t look back!

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