“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 realize 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.
What does repentance mean to you? Does it mean forgetfulness? How about failure?
As a young woman struggling with unspeakable sins while raised within the walls of a sanctuary, repentance was not my friend. Repentance represented regret, guilt, and impossibility. The concept made me nervous; and its purpose was lost on me. God already knows the dirty deeds I’ve done before I tell him. What’s the point of telling him again?
In my first few attempts at repentance, my heart was hopeful; my soul fully convinced that that was truly my last time committing that sin.
Then, after eight, nine, ten confessions of my sin that I can’t seem to shake, I lost hope. I’ll never change. What’s the point?
Thankfully, I no longer feel that way. I’ve grown to see repentance for what is truly is: a gift from God, bursting with the blessing of His presence; transformation made possible in the light of His love.
What caused the shift, you ask? Well, growing up, I was taught that repentance is a “changed mind”. But I wasn’t taught what to change my mind to.
Yes, yes, I know what we are to change our minds about. We are to change our minds about our sin. We are to hate it, to make a 180 degree turn, to run from the sin that consumes us. But what we see here in Peter’s testimony challenges our understanding of “changing our mind”.
See, repentance is not wishful thinking. Real repentance is not telling ourselves over and over again that we are going to change. Repentance must be steeped in reality – the reality of the power of Jesus’ grace over the power of our sin. Because only the grace of Jesus can transform our brokenness into something beautiful.
In this passage, Jesus’ actions reveal the radical reality of God’s grace. Jesus chooses to go to Peter, while he stands in the murky waters of his past profession, and to bless him there!
Why did He do this? Why didn’t he let Peter continue to fail? Surely, if He wanted to scare Peter away from the fisherman’s lifestyle, He wouldn’t have blessed him in the water, right?
Jesus knew that Peter’s last memory of His savior was wrought with denial and shame. Jesus also knew that Peter’s perception of his past was full of the same. Two competing identities, both begging for redemption.
Thus, Jesus chose to redeem both memories at once by making one new, powerful memory: a memory dripping with His undeniable, powerful presence.
By meeting with Peter in the midst of his disgrace, Jesus proved that His love is stronger than Peter’s sin. He proved that Peter can’t push his love away. And He disassociated Peter’s fisherman past from dishonor to an unshakeable promise – a net full of fish.
Hey Peter? That thing you’re ashamed of? Your denial of me? I’m gonna use that to bring me glory and to fill your nets.
What is that thing that Jesus has called you away from? It is that thing, through the glorious light of repentance, that Jesus will use to bring glory to Himself and to His Father in Heaven. Ask Him to give you faith in the power of His grace. Allow the Lord to change your mind about repentance.
Now, repent and re-believe in the love of Christ, because that thing does not own you. It does not define you. The love of Christ defines you; and only the love of Christ can redefine that thing into something beautiful.