Waves lapped gently onto the rocky shoreline. The water shimmered and sparkled as the morning sun climbed higher in the sky. A gentle onshore breeze blew the hair away from my face and rustled the reeds behind me. I stood looking at the glistening water, pondering the historic moments of this place.
This is where Jesus appeared, for a third time, to his disciples after he had been raised from the dead. Jesus watched his disciples from the same shoreline where I stood.
Peter’s boat was not far from the shore. Fish like warmer shallower waters. He and the other disciples had fished all night, and caught nothing. But, with Jesus’ instruction, their nets were full.
Jesus beckoned for the disciples to come and join him, and he made breakfast for the bunch of hungry fishermen.
During his last moments on earth, Jesus served those who followed him.
On the beach around a fire Jesus asked Peter the same question three times—“Do you love me?” Then Jesus gave Peter three commands: Feed my lambs. Care for my sheep. Feed my sheep.
Peter had an example to follow—Jesus had fed and cared for Peter. Jesus had shepherded Peter.
A statue stands nearby. It shows Jesus handing a shepherd’s staff to Peter. Although Jesus is still the great Shepherd, the statue symbolizes Jesus passing on the baton to Peter.
Peter was to shepherd people and no longer fish, for people or fish. Peter was to take up where Jesus left off.
Yet, Peter had probably felt comfortable in his calling to fish. He was, after all, a fisherman and he lived amongst fishing communities.
The little towns scattered around the north west corner of the Sea of Galilee overlooked the lake. These were fishing communities.
This was where Peter lived, where his friends and family lived, where his colleagues lived.
Yet, this was also Jesus country—and Good Shepherding country.
Jesus based himself out of Capernaum, a fishing community. This is where Jesus taught, and healed, and drove out demons.
A hillside overlooking the lake is where Jesus delivered his Sermon on the Mount.
So, in a familiar place, on a familiar beach in the early morning around a fire, Jesus turned Peter from a fisherman into a shepherd.
But before he did, Jesus prepared breakfast for Peter. He built a fire, gutted the fresh catch that Peter brought ashore, cooked the fish over coals, and fed a hungry and tired Peter. Maybe Peter would remember that morning as Jesus always caring for him and preparing him for the task ahead as a shepherd of sheep.
And Peter had walked alongside and watched Jesus be a shepherd to people—to those who needed nurturing, to those who were hurting, to those who needed healing.
Lysa TerKeurst says Peter was comfortable being a fisherman. But, perhaps not so comfortable being a shepherd. Often, Jesus takes us from where we are comfortable and asks us to be uncomfortable for him.
Just as Jesus readied Peter, we can be confident that God will prepare us. He equips us to do all he has called us to do.
And now may you, the God of peace,
who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,
equip me with all I need for doing your will.
May you, the great Shepherd of the sheep
work in me what is pleasing to you,
through Jesus Christ.
To him be glory forever and ever.
(based on Hebrews 13:20-21)