Can you believe that this is the last lesson in our study before we take a break? The year has gone so quickly. You have all been so faithful and diligent in your study of the Gospel of John and have honored the Lord with your work. We have no doubt that God is smiling lovingly on our little group.
There are quite a few questions to answer with this last lesson, but the last page of questions is a breeze. Don’t be afraid. You can easily complete them all. We are looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday to discuss this last chapter and celebrate the completion of our journey through the Gospel of John. Don’t forget, you can always call us if you have questions about the lessons, or just want to talk.
My sisters and I loved to gather around mom’s kitchen table and reminisce about the events and people we had all known when we were young. We would talk and laugh for hours about those yearly family vacations – barreling down two lane highways for 18 hours straight from Pittsburgh to Charleston, South Carolina to visit mom’s family, or the sight of petite Aunt Rose at Christmas time, dressed up in a scraggly, ancient Santa suit delighting the small children with her not so deep “ho ho ho”, or the sounds of Uncle Tony’s voice mesmerizing us all with the familiar family stories. Those wonderful times around the kitchen table brought our far away or deceased loved ones back to us once more.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 21 verses 2 and 3, we read: “Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee and two others of His disciples. Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”. They said to him, “We will go with you.”
When I read this passage about Peter and the six disciples I wondered if they were all gathered at Peter’s kitchen table, reminiscing about the events and experiences of their last three years spent in the company of Jesus. John, our evangelist, had been present at the very beginning of Jesus’ ministry. As a former disciple of John the Baptist, he had witnessed the baptism of Jesus and then followed Jesus to His home and spent the evening with Him.
How many of the men present that day in Peter’s kitchen experienced the miracle of the water turned to wine at the wedding in Cana? The Gospel doesn’t tell us which disciples were with Jesus at the celebration in Cana. Did the men spend time talking about the Pharisee Nicodemus, who had visited Jesus when it was dark and later became a disciple? Perhaps someone recounted how Jesus spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well, bringing the Truth and Love of God to so many. All the men must have taken comfort in Jesus’ description of Himself as the Good Shepherd, who always looks after His sheep, who will sacrifice Himself to keep his little flock safe. Some of the disciples may have spoken of their fatigue at handing out baskets and baskets of bread to feed the five thousand. What a backbreaking job that was – and then to have to gather up the leftovers! Ugh! Their favorite memories, though, had to be of the nights spent around a campfire, far away from the noisy crowds, and the sweet joy of being in Jesus’ presence, of feeling His closeness, of hearing His voice.
As the hours wore on and the recounting of memories continued, I imagine that Peter began to be restless. Perhaps he was getting hungry, as all men inevitably do. Or perhaps he knew that the happy memories they were sharing were sure to come to that painful moment when he had lost his courage and denied his best Friend, leaving Jesus to face his executioners alone. Unable to stand the tension anymore, Peter may have stood up and said brusquely, “I am going fishing.” Knowing that Jesus had chosen Peter to lead them, the disciples responded eagerly, “we will go with you.”
It was a good thing that they all came along! Unless Peter meant to fish from the pier, he definitely needed his friends to help him with the fishing boat. A typical Galilean fishing boat was nearly 27 feet long, had a single square sail and could accommodate 4 rowers and a helmsman, so the minimum crew to operate the boat was 5 men. Did Peter have a boat this size? We don’t know, as the Gospels don’t tell us. It is obvious from the Gospel verse though, that Peter had friends who respected him and enjoyed being in his presence.
You and I are members of the Church which Jesus founded over 2000 years ago. We, too, accompany Peter and the disciples, as his small boat heads into open waters. We have nothing to fear on our journey, even though the wind and waves buffet our craft. Peter is at the helm, the saints are taking turns at the oars, and the Holy Spirit is guiding us. Our destination is the far shore where Jesus, our Friend and Good Shepherd, awaits us with open arms. Peter’s boat – the Church – is sturdy and strong, designed by God to safely carry all of His children.
Let’s do a little “fishing” when we meet with friends and relatives this summer. Invite them to join with us next year at Scripture study. Let’s catch them with our love and joy and prayers and bring them on board Peter’s boat. It will be an exciting journey, and there is room for everyone.
Thank you all for accompanying Karen and me on our Scripture study journey this year. We are so appreciative of your prayers, your friendship and your insights into the Gospel of John which we have read and studied together. Your companionship has enriched our lives in more ways than we can say. We pray that this coming summer will be a time of rest and refreshment for you, and that next September, we will all take up our familiar places, ready to continue our studies of God’s beautiful Word.
May God bless you and shine His face upon you. May He give you good health and joy this summer and always. May God keep you safe as you travel and bring you at journey’s end to a place of Light and Peace.
With much love and prayers,
Karen and Franciene