After the magnificent news of the resurrection at Easter, you would have expected the disciples to be so thrilled by their encounters with the risen Lord that they would have been quickly transformed into vibrant witnesses. Instead, we find a strange silence lingering after Easter Sunday; the disciples were still indoors a week later (John 20:26), not making any visible impact on their society but still huddled in fear. Then, when Jesus next meets them (John 21:1-22), we find them fishing – not for men, but for fish. They returned to the familiar, to their old professions, to what life was like before they had met Jesus. It’s as if Easter had never happened.
We may wonder how they could have forgotten so quickly how their lives had been transformed by Jesus or how they now forgot their calling and commission, but Jesus came to them not with condemnation but with questions that reminded them of the core of their faith: love for Him. Three times He asked Simon Peter if he loved Him, effectively saying, ‘Do you love me more than the old way of life, the old routines, the way you used to live and think and act? Am I more important to you than your career, your job, your friends, your personal ambitions? Am I more important than making money? Am I more important than the things of this world? Do you love me? Am I truly number one in your life?’
This is the crux of the matter. Jesus had new things for Peter to do – to feed His lambs, care for His sheep and minister to others in His name – and as we turn to the book of Acts, we see Peter doing exactly that, filled with fire and passion after the Day of Pentecost and serving Jesus even to the point of death himself. He learned to put Jesus first, not to fret about what others would do (John 21:20-21) and to serve Jesus faithfully, living out His love throughy sacrificial service. That’s what we are called to do too.