Most weeks I gather with a group of students from our Riverside Students Ministries at RWC and we work through a book (a student edition) that Max Lucado has written called “Experiencing the Heart of Jesus.” The book is great and it has an awesome format that provides readers with the opportunity to respond to his thoughts and write out their responses to questions and the scripture they are reviewing.
One of the next times we see Peter interact with Jesus is back on the shores of Lake Galilee. Peter is back in the fishing boat, and we wonder why goes fishing. We know why he goes to Galilee; he had been told that the risen Christ would meet the disciples there. The arranged meeting place isn’t the sea, however, but a mountain (Matt. 28:16). If the followers were to meet Jesus on a mountain, what are they doing in a boat? No one told them to fish, but that’s what they did. “Simon Peter said, ‘I am going out to fish.’ The others said, “We will go with you'” (John 21:3). Besides, didn’t Peter quit fishing? Two years earlier, when Jesus called him to fish for men, didn’t he drop his net and follow We haven’t seen him fish since. We never see him fish again. Why is fishing now? Especially now! Jesus had risen from the dead. Peter as seen the empty tomb. Who could fish at a time like this?Were they hungry? Perhaps that’s the sum of it. Maybe the expedition was born out of growling stomachs.Or then again, maybe it was born out of a broken heart. You see, Peter could not deny his denial. The empty tomb did not erase the crowing rooster. Christ had returned, but Peter wondered–he must have wondered–“After what I did, would he return for someone like me?”If you find yourself awash in the whirlpool of sorrow, hiding int he shadows of shame, continually reliving your failures, Jesus’ invitation is for you. He wants face-time with you–not to scold you, but to hold you. He want you to come to his heart. Let him set you free.No one could have been more grateful than Peter. The one Satan had sifted like wheat was eating bread at the hand of God. Peter was welcomed to the meal of Christ. Right there for the devil and his tempters to see, Jesus “prepared a table int he presence of his enemies.”“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Ps. 23:5). What the shepherd did for the sheep sounds a lot like what Jesus did for Peter. What if Jesus did for you what he did for Peter? Suppose he, in the hour of your failure, invited you to a meal?On the night before his death, Jesus prepared a table for his followers.It was now the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread when the Passover lamb was sacrificed. Jesus’ followers said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover meal?” Jesus sent two of his followers and said to them, “Go into the city and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. When he goes into a house, tell the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says: “Where is my guest room in which I can eat the Passover meal with my followers?” ‘ The owner will show you a large room upstairs that is furnished and ready. Prepare the food for us there.” (Mark 14:12-15)Notice who did the “preparing” here. Jesus reserved a large room and arranged for the guide to lead the disciples. Jesus made certain the room was furnished and the food set out. What did the disciples do? The faithfully complied and were fed.The Shepherd prepared the table. Not only that, he dealt with the snakes. You’ll remember that only one of the disciples didn’t complete the meal that night. “The devil had already persuaded Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to turn against Jesus” (John 13:2) Judas started to eat, but Jesus didn’t let him finish. On the command of Jesus, Judas left the room. “‘The thing that you will do–do it quickly’…Judas took the break Jesus gave him and immediately went out. It was night” (John 13:27-30)There was something dynamic in this dismissal. Jesus prepared a table in the presence of the enemy. Judas was allowed to see the super, but he wasn’t allowed to stay there.You aren’t welcomed here. This table is for my children. You may tempt them. You may trip them. But you’ll never sit with them. This is how much he loves us.And if any doubt remains, lest there be any “Peters” who wonder if there is a place at the table for them, Jesus issues a tender reminder as he passes the cup.“Every one of you drink this.” Those who feel unworthy, drink this. Those who feel ashamed, drink this. Those who feel embarrassed, drink this.Our failures leave us mired down in guilt and shame.Jesus calls you to come, not for a scolding, but to welcome you back.Jesus has prepared a place for you.