Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. (John 21:4)
Jesus has been raised from the dead. Sometimes He’s with the disciples, sometimes He’s not. Where Jesus goes or when He will return, they don’t know. They couldn’t pin down the comings and goings of the resurrected Jesus. It must have been a comforting time—Jesus was alive, and it must also have been a disconcerting time—when will He come again?
During one interlude between His appearances, Peter gets bored sitting around waiting. He proposes that they all go fishing. Fishing suited Peter’s personality. Throw the nets into the water. Drag the nets between the boats. Pull up the nets. Sort the fish. Sell the fish. There are no riddles to figure out, no parables to discern, no mysteries to comprehend.
The disciples didn’t have any luck on the night they went out. Dawn is just breaking. They see a man on the shore. It’s Jesus, but they don’t know it.
How could they not recognize Jesus? After spending three years with Him, how is it possible that they didn’t know who was on that shore?
Are we any better at recognizing Jesus? Often not. Although Jesus comes to us all the time—actually, He never leaves us—we’re often blind to see and slow to recognize.
The disciples of Jesus—both then and now—often don’t recognize Jesus when He comes. We could dwell upon our blindness—but I don’t recommend that. Instead, let’s dwell upon the comforting thought that Jesus is in and around our lives much more than we see or recognize Him.
I encourage us to trust that Jesus comes just like He came to the disciples on their fishing trip. He comes bidden and unbidden. Sometimes we see him, sometimes we don’t.
The good news of the resurrection is that death couldn’t hold Jesus, that He’s alive, and that He comes to us now. Although it would be nice if we always saw Jesus when He comes, let’s hold fast that the most important thing is that He does.
- What are the ways you most often recognize that the Risen Jesus is with you? Reading scripture? Worship? Prayer? Fellowship? Ministry?
- Have you ever gone through a time when it felt like Jesus wasn’t there for you, but then later you realized that you hadn’t been alone, that Jesus had been holding and supporting you? If so, when?
- Do you sometimes have a hard time recognizing when Jesus is with you? If so, how come? Is there anything that would help you to see, feel, and know that Jesus is always there for you?