4-22-15 - Out of the Boat

Naked fishing? Sounds like the next big thing in adult vacation excursions. Who knew such things went on the Bible? Yet there it is, in print and everything. When the nets suddenly filled with an abundance of fish too great to haul, the disciples realized who that guy calling from the shore must be: the Lord! Here he is again! And Peter, we’re told, is so excited he puts his clothes on and jumps into the water:

That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

I can understand why he was naked – probably a hot night on the Sea of Galilee, and maybe the boat was messy. Though it must also have entailed some risks; hmmm… let’s not go there. What is surprising is the idea of someone putting on their clothes to jump into the water. But that’s what Peter does. Maybe he doesn’t want to greet his Lord in his birthday suit. Maybe he just can’t wait until they’ve pulled the boat to shore.

This is the second time in the gospels that we hear of Peter jumping out of a boat into the sea. The first time was when Jesus came toward the disciples’ boat walking on the water, and invited Peter to join him. Peter, with characteristic impulsivity, did so, and managed to take some steps before he realized that what he was doing was impossible, at which point he began to sink. And here he is again, quick to get out of the boat and into the water to get close to Jesus.

Maybe Peter had another reason for his hurry. Was he still haunted by the ease with which he had denied knowing Jesus after his arrest? Did he play and replay that conversation by the fire in the courtyard of the High Priest’s house, daring himself to answer differently, to risk arrest and execution himself? Any chance to get near Jesus again, to renew that intimacy, must have been precious indeed. He couldn't wait; he was out of the boat and into the water.

What a wonderful metaphor for us as Christ-followers! Faith invites us to get out of our boats, our holding containers and comfort zones, and plunge into the Living Water of God-Life, trying to get close to Jesus. Whether it's for love or a desire for reconcliation or meaning or purpose, we can dive right in.

What “boats” are you currently hanging out in – boats of usefulness, perhaps, but also places that shield you from full-body contact with the Life of God? Do you jump out regularly? What would impel you to jump out of that boat to immerse yourself in the Living Water flowing from God’s throne – which is another way to say the Life of God at work in the world around you?

I’d like to think that if I saw Jesus 100 yards away, I’d jump out of the boat and swim to him too. What keeps me in the boat is not seeing Jesus so close by. And yet he promised that he is. So my prayer is, “Let me see you, Lord; let me hear you calling, telling me where to cast my nets. Let me see your miracles around me, and let my heart sing with joy.”

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