“Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea. But since they were not far from land (about 100 yards away), the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish.” –John 21:7-8
I am not a swimmer, although I do enjoy swimming at the Carpenters Center several times per week for exercise. I have noticed over the past few years, the technology for swim gear has improved drastically. During the Olympics in the 70s, the average male swimmer probably had swim trunks bought from a local department store, and he didn’t bother wearing a swim cap or shaving. Today, we have technology that makes swimsuits resemble shark skin for less resistance, which shaves the important hundredths of seconds off one’s time.
Now imagine, instead, swimming while wearing a robe. In the verse above, we read that Peter didn’t think twice about swimming to the shore. As soon as he heard Jesus was there, he put his robe on, jumped in the water and started to swim. The disciples were only about a hundred yards from the shore, so it would have been reasonable to stay in the boat with the others and casually return. But Peter couldn’t wait a second longer. He jumped in—his clothes weighing him down—and swam to the shore to meet Jesus.
It can be so easy for us to see Jesus while we’re in the boat. There isn’t a lot of work involved; we won’t get messy; and we’ll be comfortable doing what we’ve grown accustomed to. But we need to be willing to follow Peter’s example. It doesn’t matter how we look or feel when we get to shore to greet Jesus, and our actions shouldn’t be dictated by our comfort zone or personal timetable. We’re called to come as we are, even when things are weighing us down.
Peter wanted to be the first one to greet Jesus on the shore. It would have been so easy for him to remain where he was and just roll in with the group, but he was enthusiastic about the Lord, and he wanted to get to Him without delay. It’s often the same with us. It would be easier for us to remain where we are and watch other people racing toward Christ and think, “He’ll be there when I need Him,” or “If I drift that way, then I’ll do something about it.” But the truth is that we are called to meet Him at all times.
Peter knew that being with Jesus was so much better than staying where he was comfortable. He knew this so well that he immediately threw all hindrances aside and pursued Him. Today, even if you want to remain in your boat, I challenge you to jump in the water just as you are and start swimming toward Christ.
God Bless and GOCATS!
Rev. Scott Murphy Murphy is the Pastor at the First Christian Church in Russellville.