John 21:7-14, Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.
Immediately, upon hearing John’s identification of Jesus, Peter jumped from the boat and swam to Him with all of his strength. While this gospel of John is primarily focused on John’s observation of Jesus’ life, don’t lose the image of Peter here. This is one of his best moments.
In Christian circles we often surround ourselves with people of like understanding. Sometimes we develop unspoken codes and even our own language. We do this for a variety of reasons, but we can exclude some things to our own demise, if we are not careful. We can so focus on decorum that we lose an element of faith that is valuable, beyond description. We should never become so spiritually mature, that we can’t realize the necessity and virtue of defenselessly diving out of the boat and swimming to the Savior, even if no one else does. In this scenario, I want to be Peter!
There are those who limit their response and reaction to God, not based on scripture, but on the Spiritual and social morays they are surrounded by. We refuse to do as much for Christ as we actually can, because it might make others uncomfortable. Well, when it comes to Jesus, if you want to casually coast to the shore, then stay in the boat. No judgement. Just don’t let yourself be shamed or constrained by those who either can’t swim, or who are simply afraid of the water.
This is not an advocation to forget the Word, and operate from a strictly emotional base. Without the wonderful wisdom God graces us with in His word we would know nearly nothing about Him. But always remember there is a place for our hearts. There is a domain of appropriate excitement in knowing and seeing Jesus in this world. There are times when people will “yell” for you to get back in the boat, and it will still be the right thing to simply keep swimming to Jesus! Are you ready to seek out His presence even if it means being wrongly judged by those who you might respect or even call friends – because in that moment it was without question, the right thing to do!
Being close to Jesus doesn’t always mean warm fuzzy circumstances. In this situation, the water was likely cold. It was a time of year when night time temperatures would have been pretty cold. Fishing was likely done early in the morning. (John 21:12) Yet, the fisherman who knows all of this, is diving in and swimming. If you’re not ready to sacrifice all for Him, you are not likely to be ready to have a relationship with Him.
The other disciples followed Peter to the shore. They were just amazed and respectful of Jesus as Peter. This act of Peter’s was important to his own reconciliation with Jesus. He doesn’t walk on the water as he once did, but he got there anyway he could. Most fishermen are good swimmers. This is a natural part of their job. Today, had nothing to do with showing vocational skill. It was about the heartbroken and joyful spirit of the loved simply seeking to be in the presence of the one to whom he has given his life.
What about you? Do you need to wait for the boat to reach the shore, or do you need to just dive in? I’m not sure where you might be in this comparison. My guess is that more of us should be in the water than riding to shore in the boat… Godspeed on your journey!