That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.
Forget rowing. I’m swimming dude.
I’m on the receiving end of such jubilation about every night when I come home from work. I’m always greeted with little pattering feet and exclamatory shouts of “Daddy’s home!” And occasionally they’ll be so excited they’ll cast off all restraint and trip over chairs, shoes, couches, cats, and garden hoes just to greet me. There are few better feelings in the world.
In John 21:7 Peter is like a little kid excited that daddy is finally home. Thankfully for everyone involved he does put on his outer garment, but that’s about the only propriety that Peter will allow himself to have on this day. He casts off all restraint and throws himself into the sea.
That’s a picture of discipleship.
If I asked my kids why they greet me with such excitement at the door they’d probably give a confused answer. Hannah would probably say “banana” and we’d both just laugh. Isaiah would probably ponder it for a few moments and then tell me a very honest, “because you’re home daddy”. They aren’t really concerned with all the in’s and out’s of the thing. They just love their daddy and want to be with him. Same with Peter who throws himself into the sea instead of rowing a hundred yards.
I pray that I have that much excitement. When I see the Spirit moving does my heart leap like Peter’s? “It’s the Lord!” When my eyes are opened to see the Christ all throughout the Scriptures do I cast myself into the sea? “It’s the Lord!”
Yes, faithful disciples are wet disciples that love Jesus so much that they just throw themselves into the sea because it seems like the quickest way to get to him.
But They Aren’t Just All Wet
Yet, there is more to discipleship than throwing yourself in the sea. A few verses later Jesus is going to ask Peter three times whether or not he loves Him. Jesus’ first question is telling. And given the display of love that Peter just exhibited it’s a little shocking. “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”
Those guys were hurriedly rowing a fish-filled boat to shore. Not Peter. He displayed his child-like love by throwing himself overboard. Jesus’ questioning is intentional. He is reinstating Peter. Just as Peter had denied Him three times so now Jesus is charging him three times, “feed my sheep”. By the third time that he asks the question Peter is grieved. “You know that I love you, Lord!”
In one sense it means very little that Peter can confess that he loves Christ. Perhaps that is why each time he appeals to the Lord’s omniscience instead of Peter’s own broken confession. They both know all too well that Peter can do boasting. Peter can do brazen. He has evidenced this his entire time following Jesus. The Lord is after so much more than a hearty confession. The Lord wants all of Peter and so he probes to the depths of his being, and there He heals Peter. And as he does this he shows all of us a little something about discipleship.
Yes, discipleship is evidenced by a white-hot affection that boils itself out of a boat and throws itself into a sea. But it is not only white-hot affection. It is also faithful action (ministry) that marks a faithful disciple. It’s awesome that Peter throws himself into the sea just to get to Jesus. But it’s even more awesome when this love for Jesus displays itself in spilling out his blood in feeding the Lord’s sheep.
A faithful disciple is marked by white-hot affection for Jesus and faithful ministry in Jesus.