Day 21 – Nick
At the end of October 2015 I was praying about how to finish this year’s reading of the Bible and the thought of studying the gospel of John landed in my mind pretty forcefully. What has followed is a 21-day series called Look at the Lamb.
There have been people reading the blog every day from all over the world which is great but the impact of this series has, first of all, been very personal to me. Someone asked me recently whether or not the writing series had had the effect I’d wanted and my instantaneous answer was “yes!”: I have been thinking about Jesus in detail every day for the last three weeks, have had His words and decisions and reactions streaming through my heart and mind and, now that it draws to a close, there is a slight sense of sadness.
A little bit like when you reach the end of a Richard Harris or Michael Crichton novel when the last few pages feel sad because you’ve been immersed in an imaginary world unique to every reader, escaped ‘reality’ and now it’s all ending…
…I want Jesus more and I don’t want to leave His world.
But the Bible is more than imagination; the Bible is objective, definitive truth as well as a safe place where your imagination can run wild. Listening to Jesus and watching Him intently are the only ways to grow in faith, and faith that is growing misses Jesus while still rejoicing in the fullness that is to come.
You wouldn’t pick a Harris or Crichton novel straight back up after finishing it, but that’s how the Bible is to be read:
These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. (NIV)
And Jesus quoting Deuteronomy in Matthew 4:4,
Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy: “It takes more than bread to stay alive. It takes a steady stream of words from God’s mouth.” (Message)
So, I am very grateful for the late John Stott’s Incomporable Christ and the portraits of Jesus that he points to.
We’re simply enjoying a long, lazy day in a gallery with friends, family and good coffee.
Summary of Chapter 21
Verses 1-14: The disciples are pretty messed up to be honest. They have been high and low for the last few weeks since Jesus died at Golgotha and then His miraculous resurrection and appearances following. Peter is the leader. He’s not the quickest (physically or spiritually) but Peter is the Rock on which Jesus has declared that His church will be built.
Peter is influential. I love him. In verse 3 he’d decided, “I’m going out to fish”. It’s impossible to not hear a tone of disgruntlement in Peter as he announces this latest news as though he was saying, “I’m going down the pub to drink”. But notice that everyone else followed. They wanted to be with him.
Unfortunately, the band of brothers caught nothing all night. They’d have been cold, gutted and hungry, much like the fish they were trying to catch. Then a Stranger from the shore called to them and asked how they were doing. In learning what He already knew, Jesus told them to throw the nets over the other side of the boat. Strangely (given that they hadn’t recognised it was Jesus at this point) they obeyed even though they were experienced Fishermen who’d have known this was illogical nonsense.
We have to grapple with this absolutely ridiculous approach – changing the side of the boat for the nets – as though the fish were all waiting on t’other side of boat, Lad. But they were! Hauling in 153 large fish was a miracle especially as they were now in the shallows.
The light dawns first for the astute John that this was Jesus and Peter throws himself into the sea like a bull in a china shop.
Remember running into the sea as a kid? When you’d try and keep running as far in and as deep as you could for as long as you could, looking totally ridiculous and drawing the attention from the rest of the beach until you finally took the plunge and dived in? This is what Pete was doing, but in reverse! But isn’t his love for Jesus and his eagerness totally infectious?
Jesus was waiting on the shore with a barbecue already going and some other fish already cooking.
Jesus knows how to do breakfast.
Verses 15-25: Next we have Edmund and we have Aslan. Remember the scene in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? Edmund has been rescued from the clutches of the White Witch and Aslan has made a deal with her. But Aslan and Edmund have a conversation and we only get to hear part of it.
What’s done is done there’s no need to speak with Edmund about what is past…
But we do get to hear the conversation between Jesus and Peter because John was there.
Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter is curious because it seems to be something like an abstract conversation that an open and frank one. We can hear Peter’s brain hurting as Jesus asks him three times (one for every denial) as to whether or not Peter **loved Him more than** the others.
Jesus was restoring the man on whom the early church would be built. The Apostle and author John was referred to as the one Jesus loved but Peter was the one who loved Jesus more than the others did. This is a critical point.
Key thoughts from Chapter 21
- Jesus was not going to entrust the building of the early church to someone He had a soft spot for. He entrusted the early church to the one who, through the depths of the depression of denial and failure, loved Jesus more than the others did. **There is nothing more important to Jesus than our love for Him and the reach of heart to love Him more**. This is worth giving your life to and for.
- Jesus made a barbecue from charcoal rather than wood. Perhaps this was because of the old rugged wood of the tree which was the cross. I can understand a negative connotation of wood. Remember Isaac’s wood that he also had to carry? Jesus was done with the cross.
- The account of the feeding of the five thousand began with the disciples wanting and needing some quality time in private with Jesus. They didn’t get it on that occasion but it was worth waiting for. Here was the glorified, resurrected King of kings and Lord of lords sat with them on a beach eating fish rolls. Imagine the conversation, imagine the adoration of these men for Jesus. The scene is pure, concentrated worship as they gather around the broken bread symbolising the brokenness of Christ’s body for them as questions would’ve been constant, pennies dropping would have been unceasing as the new era of forgiveness and grace, spear-headed by Peter, was upon them.
- Notice that Jesus put dialogue at the epicentre of reconciliation. Where there has been serious relational incident or even breakdown, especially of betrayal or abuse, a repentant heart (like Peter’s) includes being willing to talk. Though Aslan made it clear to the other children that there was no need for further discussions about Edmund’s past, he was always going require a conversation for things to be put right. *Christians who are not prepared to have dialogue about relational breakdown are not Christians who are repentant*
Prayers from Chapter 21
Oh, Jesus…You are amazing to us in every way. We love You and adore You and we want You more and more and more. Thank you for being obedient unto death, even death on a cross, and for coming as the Lamb of God to take away our sin. As we finish this study let our hearts burn and long, like Peter, to dive in to You again and again and again. Be in our minds, be in our hearts, be in our dreams and our conversations. Be our everything. We love You. Amen