Thoughts About Jesus
by John C. Westervelt
Tom’s sermons for July are based on John 17. Beginning with verse 20, Jesus prays for you and me. I am pleased that He cares so much for us.
To fill my mind with good thoughts of Jesus before going to sleep, I read a page from the Gospels while propped up in bed against a TV floor pillow left over from my son’s boyhood.
A predominate thought I have about Jesus is that He is winsome. I think, “How else could He have approached James, John, Peter, and Andrew, saying ‘Leave your nets and follow Me,’ and have these tough-minded fishermen walk away from their chosen profession?”
The Gospel stories let me see that Jesus is compassionate, loving, and caring. I want to be His friend to enjoy His love.
About the time I think Jesus is just about tender love, I read about His confronting the Pharisees. Just like my high school friends who were debaters, Jesus always wins with skillful arguments.
Jesus liked a party. While enjoying a wedding at Cana, His mother asked Him to replenish the wine. Mary, knowing her birth son was also God’s Son, believed Jesus could perform a miracle of making wine from water, and He did.
One of Jesus’ last acts on earth was to have a party for His disciples. Jesus had died on the cross, risen on the third day, met with His disciples in a locked room, and finally hosted the party. In my imagination, I join Jesus’ party on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
On the night before the party, Peter, Thomas, Andrew, and I boarded one boat, and James, John, Nathanael, and another disciple pushed off in the other. The disciples were all sad. I wondered if Peter had decided they should go fishing to get their minds off their troubles. Peter definitely was the leader.
Peter stood in the front of the boat looking back at the shoreline to his left and to his right followed by a heavenward glance at Polaris. He seemed to be using landmarks and the North Star to locate the spot on the open water where they had found fish before. After a while he called out to James and John, “Let’s try it here.”
Immediately the nets were lowered, and the men took up their oars. Most were stripped to the waist even though the night air was cold. The rowing and pulling in of the net flowed smoothly. When we found no fish in the net, we let it down again, and the sequence was patiently repeated.
Eventually, Andrew handed me the net, and since I had watched every move he had made, I was a ready hand. After several hours, I was cold, tired, and hungry. I could not recall having done such strenuous work in a long time. We were all getting discouraged when our nets kept coming up empty. Peter was ready to quit, but Andrew convinced him to try a few more times.
Then at the first sign of dawn, Peter yelled across to James and John, “Let’s take her in boys!”
As we approached land, we could see smoke curling straight up from a campfire on the shore about a quarter of a mile away. Beside the fire was the figure of a man.
As we closed the distance, the man on the shore called out, “Did you catch any fish?”
Peter spoke for all of us, “Nothing for this night's effort.”
Then came back the response, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you'll get plenty of them.”
We all looked at each other, then Thomas stated the question we were all asking, “Why throw the net here? You can't catch fish in the shallows.”
Then Andrew, without a word, threw the net over the right-hand side of the boat. Soon it was overflowing with fish, and we all strained to pull the net into the boat, but we were not able to. John, now recognizing the man, said, “Peter, it is our Lord.”
Without another thought, Peter wrapped his outer garment around his waist and threw himself into the sea. I turned to Andrew to say, “Peter certainly has a rambunctious love for Jesus.”
The rest of us came to shore in the boat dragging the net full of fish. By now, even Thomas was convinced that the man was Jesus. When we reached the shore, Peter helped us draw the net to land. I could see some fish on a fire of coals. Jesus said, “Bring some of the fish you have caught.”
Immediately Peter spoke directly to each disciple assigning tasks for preparation of the fish. While Thomas was emptying the net, he counted one hundred and fifty-three fish and remarked with amazement that he could not even find one tear in the net. It wasn’t long before the fish had been cooked over Jesus’ fire.
Jesus turned to us and said, “Come and have breakfast.”
Jesus, carrying bread, hot fish, and wine walked towards me. His servant attitude made me think of Him as a friend rather than a Messiah.
Then He read my thoughts and looking directly at me, He said, “John, I know you must be famished after a night of fishing. Take this bread and fish and wine to nourish your body.”
I shall never forget those eyes that looked into mine with such a caring spirit. As I accepted the food, I noticed that in the center of each of His calloused hands was a recent wound.
Then Jesus served Andrew, and moved on to another. As Jesus turned away, I leaned toward Andrew and said, “You told me Jesus was the Messiah. Why would a Messiah serve me?”
“More than a Messiah, He is a servant. That is the way He leads. He said for us to learn from His example.”
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