Not Going Back
Click here to read Sunday's Gospel — John 21:1-19.
In the Gospel text for Sunday, we catch up with Peter the Apostle.
After the death of Jesus.
After denying Jesus.
After the resurrection of Jesus.
After seeing the wounds of Jesus.
After feeling an intense amount of shame.
After being called by Jesus and following him and seeing everything he had done. After being part of all these experiences, where do we find Peter?
Back on the boat.
Back to how things used to be.
Peter finds himself running back to what feels most comfortable, to what feels most safe. He goes back to where Jesus found him in the first place — back on the fishing boat.
It is fascinating that as human beings, we can come very far, but we can easily go back to those places we said we never would.
That bad relationship.
That drug or drink of choice.
That visit to the casino.
The list goes on.
And for a little while, going back to before can feel good. It can feel safe. It can feel right.
Until it doesn’t anymore.
Peter is on this boat, on this water he has been on many times before.
Yet, it is not the same.
Because once we move forward. We can’t go back to how things used to be.
The toothpaste doesn't go back in the tube.
The genie doesn’t go back in the bottle.
In the story, Jesus calls Simon Peter by name, reminds him of how far he has come, points him in the direction of where to go.
“Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.”
And then Jesus says the same words he spoke to him when he first found him on the boat three years earlier: “Follow me.”
Friends, with the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are new creations, made to go forward.
We don’t go back to the boat.
We don’t go back to those things we let go of.
God has called, claimed, and equipped us for a new mission, one where we are God’s Church in the world.
There are lambs to feed.
There are sheep to tend.
We will fall down.
But we will get up.
We may find ourselves back on the boat. Trying to put things back to how they used to be.
But over and over, our loving Jesus will keep coming back to us again and again, with the same words he spoke at the beginning: “Follow me.”
“We fall down, but we get up. For a saint is just a sinner who fell down, and got up.”