Easter to Pentecost: Friends and Failures
By Maria Patten
Afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered.
He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, ‘It is the Lord,’ he wrapped his outer garment round him and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred metres. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Don’t you just love hanging out with your friends? I do, even though, with this lockdown, we are going nowhere fast!! It's about banter, chatting and eating good food together. Malcolm, my husband, says I can be tired and ready for my bed but give me the chance to go out with my friends and I am alive again!
I suppose the disciples were hanging out together, talking about what had happened with Jesus over the past few years. Maybe they were sharing memories, laughing and sometimes crying. Then Peter announces that he wants to go fishing, something they were very familiar with, so they jumped in the boat and off they went. They fished all night and, guess what, they caught nothing!
They must have felt really cheesed off. I feel like that sometimes when I have worked really hard at something and for some reason it doesn’t pay off. You feel really deflated. Then someone comes along and they do something or say something very similar to you and it just works.
I’m dyslexic. It causes me to jumble up my words and my thoughts. Sometimes I can be sitting in a group and I’m trying to formulate my words and they don't come out as well as I would like them to. A few minutes later someone else comes out with a beautiful illustration that sums up what I was trying to say and everyone says, ‘Yes, yes, that’s really good!’ and It just makes me feel really stupid inside. That person has just said what I was trying to say but I couldn’t get those words out.
I’m blessed to have good friends. One of the groups I belong to is the women’s Bible study and it seems to me that all of the women there are highly intelligent. In the past, if I had gone to a group like that I would have stayed silent or would have not gone back. But coming to a group which is friendship based, and where there is love, enables me to grow. I feel safe, supported, cherished and loved. I still try to say what I think because deep down I know I have something worth saying and I’ve learned that it's okay to get it wrong, jumbled or to stutter something out.
In this story Peter must have been deflated. It was Peter’s idea to go fishing, and he was the expert fisherman. They had been out all night, had tried their best but they had not caught any fish. Then Jesus comes along, tells them to throw their net in on the other side, and they caught so many fish they could hardly pull the net in! Peter had already failed Jesus by denying he knew him during the trial before Jesus died, and now he had failed again in the task to find fish. But Peter was among friends and it was okay to fail.
As they put fish on the BBQ and sat down together it felt just like it had been when they sat and shared bread and wine the night before Jesus died. The risen Jesus was among them, and the friends were together again, stronger, wiser and ready for what would happen next.