Immersed and Intertwined

John 21: 1 – 8

Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 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.

After Jesus died and was resurrected, he appeared, or manifested himself, in the flesh, to his disciples. That is an interesting study in itself, but not where I am going today. What I wish to point out today is the difference in John and Peter. Both are renowned disciples who are two of Jesus’ best friends but their approach to him and to the world is vastly different.

First, let me clarify something which tends to challenge people. In good writing, the author never uses personal pronouns. In other words, they don’t use “I”. The author is not supposed to be writing about himself or herself but rather about a larger context. In truth, this has changed with blogs and social media. It is one of the changes I had to embrace, though hesitantly, in writing a personal devotional. So, John refers to himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” Okay, proprieties taken care of.

Second, people think this is an arrogant moniker. No, it is just the opposite. John is saying to his readership, and every other person, that his only value in the world is that Jesus loves him. It is a statement, or rather a reference, of great humility. “It’s little old me. I am no one but for the grace of Jesus’ love which is unearned for I am unworthy of his kind intention towards me. It is only by his benevolence that he loves me, nothing of my doing.”

Okay, now you begin to see inside John’s heart. Though he entered the ministry of Jesus as a Son of Thunder, he became the love apostle. He is the apex teacher on the relationship aspect of Christianity, teaching us that our love relationship with the Trinity and, indeed, with each other, marks our faith above all else. When you compare his letters with those of the other writers you will find they are unique. They reveal the integration with Father, Son and Spirit which I write about frequently. I got it from John.

So, John’s heart became tender. He learned to live and walk with Jesus. He learned to engage his heart even above his mind. His spirit became sensitive to the Holy Spirit and he received remarkable revelation out of that intertwined relationship with the Trinity. The whole book of Revelation is one remarkable experience that John enjoyed with the Holy Spirit. So, all this is to show you who this man became. I guess in a few words I would say of him, he became one with the Spirit.

In this story you see the sensitivity of his spirit to the things of the Holy Spirit and Jesus. When Jesus was standing on the shore, it was John whose spirit recognized him. Of all the disciples, it would be John who knew Jesus when others did not.

Now Peter, Peter was a man of action. He was strong willed, perhaps a little hard-headed, and his faith had feet. He did something. He was the one who jumped out of the boat to walk on the water with Jesus (Matthew 14: 29). When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus, Peter drew his sword and removed the ear of one of the soldiers (John 18: 10). This story finds Peter jumping out of a boat again. When John said to him, “It is the Lord,” Peter bailed out.

Both men leave us with good examples. John transformed himself into a spiritually sensitive person who could see and hear the Holy Spirit. Though Peter lacked John’s spiritual sensitivity, he was always quick to take action. That action may have at times been rash, but Peter was not going to be found sitting on his hands. If nothing else, he was going fishing.

Two models of faith – both give us insight and hope for who we may become in Christ.

Deep Water

Matthew 14: 29

And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

What is it that makes this story so captivating? Verse 30 reads, “But seeing the wind, he became afraid and beginning to sink, he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!” We understand, don’t we, that Peter is in over his head? He is in the deep water. That is what makes this story interesting. What happens if Peter is in three feet of water? There is no impact, no meaning.

I believe this is a precise metaphor for life. All the important work of life is done out there where you are in over your head. This is a focus area of this ministry. In fact, I have thought about naming the Word of the Day the Deep Water Devotional. Why? There are ministries whose purpose is more centralized on evangelism. Their mission is to take the saving word of the gospel to non-Christians and help those people take the first step in becoming a disciple of Christ. Ivey Ministries is a second step ministry. Our focus is to take those folks and people who have been Christians for a long time and lead them into deeper water.

We want to give people what they need in order to grow in the Lord. I, personally, want to encourage and aid people in going deeper. Many of us have spent some portion of our Christian lives as little more than pew sitters. Or like me, you may have called yourself a Christian, believed Christian doctrine and believed in Christ but those beliefs didn’t affect you on a daily basis. I have been a Christian as long as I can remember. My grandmothers taught me about Christ when I was a toddler, for which I am extremely grateful, by the way. Nonetheless, while those beliefs were always important to me, I didn’t always live daily in the deep water. Jesus couldn’t call me to come out to the deep even because I wasn’t listening well. In San Diego, though, I ran up on some folks that challenged me to go deeper and I will ever be grateful to them. Now, I am most happy when I am way out in the deep water. I like to be in over my head. And really, isn’t this the only way to live? When I am in the deep water I have to keep my eyes on Jesus otherwise I will sink. If I am in the shallows then what do I really need Jesus for? Besides, I have found that life is soooo much better in the deep. There is more of everything out here, including grace, blessing, revelation, glory, etc.

So, my unadulterated, unequivocal purpose in sending you these Word of the Day devotionals is to coax you a little further into the deep. I know there is a cost to you. I too have to pay a cost. There is the minister that sends me looong partner letters, the occasional long sermon which we all have to sit through, and there is the occasional long Word of the Day which costs us both time. 

I want to let you know that we timed the longest Word of the Day thus far and found that most people read it in less than five minutes. Now, sometimes you may feel that you don’t have five minutes. I get that but perhaps you should read the Word of the Day on busyness. Do what is important first and you will find yourself better equipped to do the rest. Second, that is only 25 minutes a week if all of them take five minutes to read. When I break it down like this for myself I find that I decide I can do it.

I have a passion for this and I want to share this deep passion with you. I am revealing to you what the Father is showing me. We are in our last days if not THE last days and we just need more of Jesus. Look around you. Christians are falling on their faces all over. The times are challenging. We can’t skate by on a small dose of Jesus. These are deep water times. So, jump in! The water is fine. Moreover, Jesus is here to take your hand.