I really enjoy painting. Sometimes I’ve been proud of my work, but I’ve never really enjoyed anyone watching my work in progress. Always enjoyed painting, but I get messy, using brushes and fingers, and squinting, squirting tubes of paint, and wiping my hands on whatever I happen to be wearing. On at least one occasion when I’d walked away from my easel to observe my progress, I returned to my stool and couldn’t find my palette. Until I realized I was sitting on it. At about the same time Mrs. Green’s other amateur Michaelangelos did as well.
I’d rather have the work neat and complete. Once, when I was taking an actual course in art in college, my instructor was deaf and her speech reflected that. Most of the time here comments were limited to: “That’s beautiful. Simply beautiful.” Once, when I was trying to replicate a picture I’d found of a Water Spaniel retrieving a mallard and coming up over the side of a boat, she stood behind me briefly. Then commented: “What a beautiful horse!” She chuckled, and the class roared. Which explains why I never became a professional and never really felt comfortable with spectators while I was working.
I’m pretty much that way about writing, but think I’d like to make an exception in this case. I’d like for you to share in the “study.” So, if you’ve been here before, you probably know we’ve been considering what I call God’s “Comeback Kids.” I don’t ever try to tell God what to say. I don’t come to Scripture with conclusions searching for “proof texts.” I try to listen openly and honestly, not looking to enlarge my bank of facts, even if it happens to be “important trivia.” In this current effort, my focus is simply to try to find how some of God’s servants fell, or failed, or were shoved off course. Then, I’ve been asking myself: “How’d they manage to ‘come back?’”
In a departure from the method used earlier, I’ve printed a passage of Scripture and interspersed my comments, questions, etc. The Bible verses are printed bold. A couple of friends, “Ebby Dickens” and Mark Ryman, have made me aware of some incredible online tools which you can use. One is “Biblos.” The other is BibleGateway.com. Between the two, you can have access to just about every existing translation of Scripture, as well as other very valuable study tools. You can find a passage, “copy and paste” it into your own word processing program. Then you can make your notes and observations embedded right in the context you’re examining.
What I’d really like to take place now, is for us to “play like” we’re sitting around a kitchen table together. Or sitting in someone’s living room with open Bibles, open, inquisitive minds, teachable ‘hearts,’ pen and notepad, just studying Scripture together.
We may need a couple of “sessions” for this current exercise. But who’s in a hurry? If we can find truth which produces hope and strengthens faith and courage, I’ll invest a bit of time. As John closes out his account of Jesus life her on earth, he tells about the last ‘face to face’ conversation with Simon Peter. Some earth-shakng events have taken place. Jesus has returned from the grave and sets up the last meeting He’ll have with His disciples. Here’s how it goes:
John 21 1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I m going fishing.”
In his disappointment and total disgust with himself, Peter just decided to “chuck it.” He said he was going back to the old way of life. The beautiful dream had turned into a dark nightmare. Peter was embarrassed. Humiliated. Defeated. Disillusioned. “I quit.” I’m sure the darkest hours of Peter’s life took place between the night of his betrayal of Messiah and the morning of his return.
They (the other Disciples) said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, “Children, (“Boys.” Can you imagine? Grown men, and he calls them children. “Kids, you got any food?” Caught any fish? Had any luck?” Can you imagine how irritating that must have been? They didn’t recognize Him and may have had difficulty hearing as well. He was a pretty good distane away. They’ve been struggling with the nets. They’re professional fishermen and from the shore a “stranger” whom they don’t recognize is shouting questions and instructions to them about where to throw their net. Good naturedly chiding them about their failure to catch anything. Fishing is what they know how to do best. He may as well have taunted them from their point of view.
They answered Him, “No!” They’re hollering back and forth now from ship to shore. The wind was probably blowing. Waves may have been pounding the shore and perhaps drowning out some of their conversation. Do you suppose they answered his questions sweetly and politely? I think not. Probably abruptly. They were already tired. Aggravated that the fish weren’t co-operating, and now here’s this “guy” over on the shore. . . uninvited, and unwelcome . . . telling them how to do something at which they were already recognized as well as self-proclaimed “experts.” The boat is two hundred cubits offshore. You probably know measurements in the ancient Middle East were sometimes inexact. For example, a cubit (the length from the tip of the middle finger to the elbow) may have been anywhere from 17 to 22 inches. I’m not certain how many centimeters that is. But, say on average we’re talking 20 inches, multiplied by 200 cubits calculates roughly into approximately 4000 inches! That’s longer than a football field! I’m not sure I could hear someone on shore from that distance, even if they were using an amplifier! Before I got the catarract operation, I couldn’t even see somebody that far away and recognize them.
Even if my calculation isn’t exact, I can assure you they were shouting back and forth. Hands cupped around the mouth and hollering, hoping to be heard.
6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), Fishing in his shorts? Horrors! I’m almost sure this was not the occasion where our saying was developed, “caught with his pants down.” They wore robes! Actually, one of the accounts suggest he was ‘nekkid!” I can’t help it. I got tickled. One thing seems certain: If you were ‘prim and proper’ and hung out with this band of brothers, you might get shocked occasionally. When I thought about the idea of the “first pope” clambering over the side of the boat and going ‘skinny dipping’ I laffed out loud. Next time you see a pope in crown and robe and regalia and heralds and pomp and circumstance, could you imagine him throwing caution and propriety to the winds in an outrageously bold dash to get to shore and get to Jesus? and plunged into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” 11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish. 14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.
A conversation follows. I hope you’ll look at it and think about it. God’s servant, your friend, brother, and fellow student ~donkimrey