Monday, May 4, 2015
John 21:1-14 conclusion
We've learned so much already from this passage!
The next lesson here is this: Sometimes the answer is closer than you think!
The disciples needed to put the nets in where the fish were . . . the fish were not on the other side of the lake; they were just on the other side of the boat. Sometimes the answer is as close as our willingness to obey Jesus and to do what He is asking.
Do you remember the story in the Old Testament about a Syrian general, named Naaman? He awoke one day to see that leprosy was beginning to spread across his body. In those days, it was almost an immediate death sentence for this to happen; lepers were outcasts and were confined to certain areas, living out their remaining days in despair and pain.
His wife was served by a slave girl who had been taken captive in a battle against Israel. She said to Naaman's wife:
She said to her mistress, "If only my master would see the prophet
who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy. (II Kings 5:3)
So Naaman went to Elisha, the prophet, who did not even come of his house. He had his servant go out and tell this important general to bathe in the Jordan river -- to dip himself seven times. Naaman was furious! He felt doubly insulted -- not only the insult of the prophet not coming out to tell him, but also that he had to bathe in a river of Israel.
I expect that he wanted something more substantial. Something stupendous. Something miraculous.
Maybe he expected the prophet to come out and call on the name of the Lord God, perhaps wave his hand over the lesions, and then he would be cured.
So he stormed off in a rage and refused to do it. No obedience here. No submission.
One of his servants tried to reason with the general. He said, "If the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, "Wash and be cleansed!"
So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as
the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became
clean like that of a young boy. (II Kings 5:14)
The answer was much closer than he realized. It was humbling, and it did not make sense at the time, but it was the thing that he needed to do. Perhaps he thought that he had better water where he lived in Syria, but the answer was much closer than that.
If the disciples were going to get fish, they needed to put their nets where the fish were.
If we are going to receive the answer that God has for us, we are going to have to do what He says, and do it when and where He says!
Many of us pray for an answer to our problems, but when the answer comes, we don't like it. We already have it in our heads how God should solve our problem. We don't want to humble ourselves, and we don't want to look foolish. We may not accept what God is asking us to do because we want God to do it all -- we want Him to wave His hand and make a supernatural, exciting answer to our problem. If He asked us to do a great thing, sure, we'd do it. But not the small, humble thing.
But God is not asking us to do a great thing that will get lots of attention, He is only asking us to do the simple thing of obeying what he says, and do it consistently.
I'm indebted to the vast resources of the internet for this illustration from Wade Hughes, Sr. He tells the story of a weak and sickly man.
His condition grew worse, but he could not afford a doctor.
He lived in the deep back woods in an old log cabin, and out in
front of his cabin was a huge boulder. One night he had a vision. God
told him to go out and push the massive rock in front of his home all
day long, day after day, until he told him to stop. The man got up early
in the morning, and with great excitement, he pushed on the rock as long
as he could. After a rest he pushed some more. The night vision was so
real that it inspired the man as he pushed against the rock. It gave him
meaning. Each day he pushed a little harder and a little longer. Day after
day he pushed. Days rolled into weeks, and weeks into months, as he
faithfully pushed against the rock. After 8 months of pushing the rock, the
man was getting tired of pushing the rock so much, and in his tiredness
he started to doubt his dream. He measured from his porch to the rock,
and after pushing the rock, he would measure to see how much he had
moved the rock. After two weeks of pushing and measuring, he realized
he had not moved the boulder a fraction of an inch. As a matter of fact,
the boulder was in the same place as when he started. The man was so
disappointed, because he saw his work had accomplished nothing. He was
tired and his dream seemed dashed upon the rock.He sat on his porch and
cried, because he had invested so much time for nothing. But as the sun
was setting in the west, Jesus came and sat down next to the man as he
was sitting on his porch.
He said, “Son, why are you so sad?” The man replied,
“Lord, You know how sick and weak I am, and then the vision you gave me
built up a false hope. I have pushed with all that was within me for many
months, and that old rock is right where it was when I started.” Jesus said
to him, “I never told you to move the rock, I told you to push against the
rock.” Jesus told the man to step in front of the mirror and look at himself.
As an act of obedience the man stepped in front of a mirror. He was
How could he have missed this? He had been so sickly and weak, and what
he saw in the mirror was a strong muscular man. He also realized that he
had not been coughing all night. It dawned on him that he had been feeling
better for months, and it was all because he had been pushing — not
moving — the rock. Then the man realized, that the plan of God was not
to change the position of the rock, but to change him. God’s plan was
not for the rock, but for him.
We need to understand God's plan. We must trust what He is saying to us.
Listen to God. Do what he says. Do the work of obedience. It is not nearly so important that the rocks in our lives be moved as it is for us to push against the rocks.
It is when we push against the rock that we become strong — whether the rock moves or not. It is when we obey and cast our net on the other side that the net is filled, and a way is opened up for deeper fellowship with Jesus.