Greetings in the name of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the Coronavirus. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
A couple of women witnessed the empty tomb first. They were told by angels that Jesus Christ was resurrected. In joy, they told to the other disciples, and a couple of the disciples ran and got into the tomb. As the women told, the tomb was empty, but they did not see Jesus.
Then later the same Sunday, Jesus who rose again from the dead, came to the disciples. The disciples hid themselves together in fear of being arrested like Jesus. Jesus appeared in the middle of their gathering. They could not believe their eyes, but soon they recognized Jesus, and they were filled with joy instead of fear with the risen Lord. Their hearts were filled with comfort and peace instead of fear.
Jesus also showed up to two men who were so much discouraged by the death of Jesus. They were going down to Emmaus to leave Jerusalem, the problem city. They also heard a strange rumor that Jesus who was crucified three days ago resurrected. They thought that it was yet another fake-news. Their trip down to Emmaus was very heavy. On the way, they were taking about Jesus and what He did when He was alive. As Jesus, the Risen Lord were approaching them, and He joined them. Due to their sorrow and confusion, they did not recognize Jesus, who resurrected from death. Jesus kindly explained all prophesies about His death and resurrection. They heard, but they could not understand. Their hearts were veiled with their worldly sorrow and confusion. Jesus, who searched for one lost sheep, found the two lost men, and opened their eyes. Immediately, they recognized Jesus, the resurrected Lord. Their hearts were burning, and their burning hearts did not keep them stay in Emmaus any longer. They were hurriedly back to Jerusalem to meet the Jesus’ disciples. Then they realized that Jesus also came to the disciples. Together with the disciples, they were in joy and shared their burning hearts when they recognized Jesus, who rose again from dead.
By the way, Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, was not with the other ten disciples. He could not believe what was told by the other ten disciples and the two men from Emmaus. Thomas was a smart person. His smartness prevented from him to believe Jesus’ resurrection. It was a real pity. Thomas spent agonizing days while demanding a proof. He continued saying,
“I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (John 20:25b)
On the eighth day after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus finally showed up again in the middle of the disciples. For this time, Thomas was there too. Then Jesus said to Thomas,
“Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (John 20:27b)
“My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28a)
Jesus found Thomas, the one lost sheep among the disciples, and helped Thomas’ unbelief. Indeed, Jesus loved Thomas like any other disciples who already met and believed the Resurrected Jesus. Jesus loved His disciples equally one by one including Thomas, who doubted. Thomas knelt down before Jesus, and Jesus forgave Thomas.
Then Jesus left the disciples. As time goes by, their excitement on Jesus’ resurrection withered. Then one by one said, “Let’s leave Jerusalem, and go back to where we used to live.” Soon all said same, and they reached a consensus to leave Jerusalem. Some headed to the Sea of Galilee, where they used to fish because they were fishermen.
Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples arrived together the Sea of Galilee.
As arriving, Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night. It was very unusual. They used to get lots of fish during night. They were experienced fishermen, and they were grown up in the region. Thus, they knew exactly when they went out and where to catch lots of fish. That night, all of their experiences did not work at all. They toiled through the night, but they got nothing. It was a really exhausting and disappointing night.
At dawn Jesus, the Risen Lord, was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who He was. By that time, their excitement was dwindling down to nothing. This was the reason why they went back to the Sea of Galilee, and right back to their old profession. Peter was called for a fisher of men, but he could not sustain this mission given by Jesus. The mission was too big to take for Peter by himself. It came from Jesus, not from himself. By that time, the blessing of being a fisher of men was long forgotten. However, the strange man on the beach made Peter look back. Peter even started remembering Jesus’ teaching:
But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
Once Peter’s eyes were covered by the world, he lost Jesus’ calling. Then Peter became an ordinary fisherman again. How sad it was! Peter followed Jesus three years. Peter also saw Jesus’ death and resurrection. All of these were enough to make Peter a true fisher of men founded on a solid rock of faith.
Jesus, the Risen Lord, lovingly called out,
“Fellows, have you caught any fish?” (John 21:5b)
Yes, Jesus came to Peter who returned to his old self. Why? Jesus loved Peter regardless Peter failed or not. Jesus came with an unchanging love toward Peter. It is true that Jesus’ love never changes. Yes, never! This is the reason why we believe Jesus in all circumstances. Can we find such a love in this world? No. Absolutely not! Today’s friendship can become a hostility tomorrow. There is no permanent friendship, let alone love although everyone truly wants to have.
“No,” Peter and his companion replied to Jesus.
Then Jesus said,
“Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” (John 21:6a)
It was a really absurd request from a stranger. Peter paused briefly and gave a thought. Peter and his colleagues grew up in the region, and they were the well-known experts who mastered how to catch fish. Initially, Peter struggled. But somehow, his hearts were telling why not trying as the stranger suggested. Although Peter and his colleagues were really tied, they threw their net in the water.
They still were not convinced that their net would catch any fish because they tried all night. Additionally, they knew it was not time to catch fish anyway. Then they waited a little bit. Then they hauled in the net while thinking noting would be in the net. Surprisingly, they felt weight on their hands pulling up the net. They put all their strength to haul in the net to their boat, but they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Peter felt a strange coincidence between what happened to him three years ago and now.
While Peter was thinking about the same event happened three years ago, the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter,
“It’s the Lord!” (John 21: 7b)
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he immediately realized that the stranger was Jesus. Peter put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about ninety meters (or one hundred yards) from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
“Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn. It was a miracle. The net could not hold that many fish.
“Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew He was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead. Jesus came to the disciples because Jesus loved them.
After breakfast, Jesus looked at Simon Peter, but Peter could not see Jesus directly. Peter had a really sad and regretting experience. Peter denied Jesus three times. He even cursed Jesus before a servant girl, not a man nor even a Roman solider who could arrest Peter. What could a servant girl do? Peter was truly scared at that time. Jesus, who came to Peter, exactly knew the pain deep in Peter’s heart.
The miracle was a sequel to Peter — catching lots of fish after toiling through the night without catching none. Three years ago, Jesus initially came to Peter. Peter spent all night without catching one single fish. Jesus, who was a total stranger at that time, said
“Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.” (Luke 5:4b)
It was a completely nonsense to Peter – going deep and threw nets. Peter (also called Simon) replied back,
“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” (Luke 5:5)
Strangely, Peter accepted the nonsense request from the stranger. Peter did not hope to get any fish. Differing from Peter’s expectation, their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
Then Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said,
“Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” (Luke 5:8b)
Then Jesus responded,
“Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” (Luke 5;10b)
Jesus called Peter and promised to make Peter a fisher of men. When Jesus called Peter, didn’t Jesus know Peter would deny Himself. No. Jesus knew, who is also God. But in love, Jesus came to Peter and gave the glorious name of a fisher of men. However, thee years later, when he went back to the Sea of Galilee, Peter really wanted to forget all these: Jesus’ calling and ministries with Jesus, because he failed. He denied Jesus three times.
Jesus, who knew exactly the pain in Peter’s heart, recreated the first scene when Peter met Jesus by performing the same miracle. It was the first step for Jesus to heal Peter, who completely failed and gave up to be a fisher of men. However, Jesus came to Peter in love, and Jesus initiated His restoration process for Peter.
Jesus lovingly asked,
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15b)
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
By the way, we’d better to analyze more carefully about the dialog between Jesus and Peter. They both said love, but did they have same meaning? No.
Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me as I love you?” In other words, Jesus asked whether Peter could love Jesus as Jesus loved Peter unconditionally. Peter, who failed miserably, could not answer because he realized that he could not. Thus, Peter said, “I love you as my friend.” When Jesus was arrested, Peter experienced that he could not love as Jesus loved him. Peter realized his love changes as situation changes. When he was in danger, Peter denied Jesus. At the same time, even so, Jesus loved Peter to the end, i.e., the death on cross. The Jesus’ question touched Peter’s painful past that he wanted to forget. Peter could see in his heart the very scene that he denied Jesus. Then Jesus forgave Peter because Jesus loved Peter unconditionally. Peter’s bitter cry after his denials was his repentance. Since then, his heart had not been whole although he wanted to be whole. On the other hands, Jesus, standing before Peter, was lovingly watching Peter, and offered His forgiveness and love.
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs,” (John 21:5c)
After all, Jesus did not ask why. Instead, Jesus blessed Peter by offering a blessed job — feeding His lambs. What a love the Jesus’ love toward Peter was! Peter could not answer, and he remained silent.
Jesus repeated the question:
“Simon son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16)
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
Jesus asked Peter the same question whether Peter could love Jesus as Jesus loved Peter. Peter could not answer for a while. Then with courage, he spoke in shame that he was only able to love Jesus as a friend, because Peter knew his limitation, which he had already experienced. Before the time of denial, Peter thought that he would be the bravest disciple who would go through all things with Jesus to his death with Jesus. Then the time of trail came, and he became coward in fear. He avoided the danger of by denying Jesus. Yes, he denied Jesus. Thus, Peter had no choice but repeating the same answer once more. Jesus heard Peter calmly and lovingly because Jesus knew what’s going on inside of Peter, “Jesus. My Love! You know my heart. I am not capable of loving you like you loved me. You know I already failed miserably.” Peter could not lift up his eyes to see Jesus. He was buried deep in shame, but
Jesus said, “Then take care of my sheep,” (John 21: 16b)
Jesus again encouraged Peter. Jesus confirmed His love toward Peter. Jesus gave His confidence twice. Jesus really wanted Peter to be restored.
Jesus, then, a third time, asked Peter,
“Simon son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:17b)
For this time, Jesus eased up his question by substituting His love with a brotherly love that a human can do. Rather than asking Peter to have His love unattainable, Jesus went down to Peter and asked a brotherly love.
Peter really hurt when he heard Jesus’ question substituting the love that Jesus did with a brotherly love that Peter had and was having at that moment. Then Peter said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Peter confess his limitation by completely opening his heart to Jesus, and said, “Lord, you know everything.” Jesus heard Peter, and took away Peter’s painful burden deep in his heart. Yes, Peter would never be like Jesus, but Jesus gave His mercy and love on Him by giving His approval on Peter’s repenting heart.
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” (John 21:17c)
Jesus consoled Peter, and healed the pain in his heart. His heart paint could not be removed by any means except Jesus. For this, Jesus found Peter, forgave him, mended his heart, and restored Peter. Peter was completely restored by Jesus’ unconditional love.
Peter could not forget this moment for the rest of his life. According to legend, Peter later faced his death, but he did not fail at that time. He was faced his death like Jesus, and crucified like Jesus. Then Peter made one request to be crucified upside down because he was not worthy of dying like his Lord, Jesus Christ, who loved Peter unconditionally, and entrusted him as the leader of Jesus’ disciples. Peter, when he was restored, led Jesus’ disciples till his death on cross like Jesus except being crucified upside down. Jesus loved Peter, and Peter also loved Jesus.
Jesus’ love never changes. Jesus’ love is unconditional. Jesus’ love is also bigger than anything else. Yes, anything else! For his own gain, Peter denied and cursed Jesus. At the same time, Jesus saw step by step how Peter was denying and even cursing Jesus. Even so, Jesus completely forgave and loved Peter. After His resurrection, Jesus found Peter suffering with this painful past, and restored Peter with His unconditional and unfathomable love. Yes, we know our sins are great, but we must remember Jesus’ love is greater than our sins, all combined. Thus, we can come to Jesus confidently. Jesus will accept us with His wide-open arms with His unconditional love. Come. Come to Jesus. He loves us unconditionally.
Jesus Loves Me!
Jesus loves me! This I know,
For the Bible tells me so;
Little ones to Him belong;
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
Yes, Jesus loves me!
The Bible tells me so.
Jesus loves me! This I know,
As He loved so long ago,
Taking children on His knee,
Saying, “Let them come to Me.”
Jesus loves me still today,
Walking with me on my way,
Wanting as a friend to give
Light and love to all who live.
Jesus loves me! He who died
Heaven’s gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Jesus loves me! He will stay
Close beside me all the way;
Thou hast bled and died for me,
I will henceforth live for Thee.
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. (Ephesians 3:17-18)
We’d like to share about how to wisely respond to the current worldwide Coronavirus pandemic. First, except our own family living together, consider all others as a potential source of transmitting the Coronavirus because people who are asymptomatic (no symptom of Coronavirus at all) can carry and transmit the virus. Thus, please avoid a physical contact with others, and maintain distance about two meters (or six feet). This social distancing saves lives. Please wash hands with soap about 20 seconds to wash out the Coronavirus that might be on our hands. Our hand skin is pretty thick and it protects well against the Coronavirus, but our hands frequently touch our mouth, then the Coronavirus on our hands will go into our body. We should prevent this type of infection by our own hands.
Most of all, this is the time to have a quality time with one’s own family and with God, Our Ever-Loving Father with prayers, and reading and medicating Bible every day. Please fix eyes on Jesus, who is the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, and follow the foot step of Jesus Christ together with our own families in this difficult time. When this Coronavirus pandemic is over, by doing so, we will all find that we are one step closer to each other among our own family members in Christ’s love and have a deeper relationship with God.
May God’s grace, protection, healing on all and especially for those who are physically suffering from the Coronavirus and those who are mourning for the loss of the loved ones due to the Coronavirus.