Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
After three years of walking and talking with Jesus and witnessing His miracles, how do the disciples not recognize Him? It’s not until He performs a miracle that the disciples understand who He is. However, the disciples would have never known that it was Jesus unless they had done what He had asked.
Over the course of their journey with Christ, the disciples developed a habit of obedience that keeps them positioned to receive divine revelation. In order for us to stay in position for God to maximize our lives, we can’t just be obedient one time.
Just like the disciples, we need to learn to regularly practice obedience. This is because some of what God provides for us will not be immediate. Just like Peter had to go out of his way to cast his nets on the other side of the boat, we might also have to go out of our way in obedience to receive what God has for us.
Even in his confusion, Peter chose to obey. Like Peter, we need to stay with it. When we know what is right, we need to keep on nurturing it, and we need to stay anchored in radical obedience.
When we stay in radical obedience, we gain the reward of eating with Christ. We receive His care and love for us and His provision. Jesus appeared to the disciples to lift them out of their disappointment and to provide them unspeakable joy, which was so great that Peter couldn’t wait for the boat to get to shore.
Jesus doesn’t criticize, judge, or correct the disciples for not recognizing Him. Instead, He accepts the disciples and cooks and provides a meal. Jesus is so invested in your spiritual life, that He takes time to catch some fish for you, grill it, and eat with you.
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
Revelation 3:20 NIV
The thought of Jesus waiting at the door of our hearts, knocking and waiting to be let in, is spiritually breathtaking. The Lord and our Creator loves us so much that He approaches our closed space and instead of barging in, respects us enough to knock and waits at the door of our hearts.
This is all the strength of the Gospel brought to the doorstep of every human heart. Jesus doesn’t wait for us to seek and search for Him, and despite living lukewarm lives, Jesus comes knocking.
Jesus is never far off. He is always close enough that if you are listening and looking, you can hear and see that He is at your door. Even if you hesitate, Jesus is willing to knock again and again, waiting for you to open the door.
While one part of this verse is the stunning extension of grace and love, there is also the image of Jesus as a wandering seeker who only wants to be let in, even if it is to a half, cold-hearted life. If the door is open, He will come in, sit, and sup with us.
Jesus’ desire is to dine with us. He doesn’t come in to judge or correct or condemn us. He comes in to eat with us. However, it may be that the door to our hearts are locked from the inside, because we have set no table for Grace to stop by unannounced. It is one thing to get your house in order when Jesus tells you that He’s coming. It is another to always be prepared for His knock at the door of our hearts.
We must be ready to set a table in our hearts.
The door to our hearts does not have a lock or latch from the outside, but only from the inside. We are the ones who open the doors to our hearts. So, to be prepared to unlock the door for Christ, we must be faithful in our prayers, disciplines, and what we allow to occupy our time and our minds. These things reflect our truest intentions.
Faith helps us to respond to Jesus’ knock and voice by grabbing our intentions from the inside and deciding what we let pass through the door to our hearts. Faith opens the door to Jesus because what He brings always adds meaning and power to our lives.
If you struggle to open the door to Christ, ask yourself these questions:
What in this season has been your posture from the inside when you hear the knock of Jesus at the door of your heart?
How have you handled the unannounced knock at your door?
When he knocks, what has been your resistance?
Is it that you don’t really want to have a different perspective?
Are you afraid that when the Lord makes His way through that door that He will change you?
Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
Matthew 9:10-13 NKJV
When the Pharisees saw what the dinner at Matthew’s house looked like, they immediately judged the quality of the people present. The Pharisees had spiritually written off these “tax collectors and sinners.” The Pharisees focused on the people that Jesus was eating with, but Jesus was focused on how He could impact those around Him.
For us, our relationships can drain us, leave us angry, or cause us stress. This mindset can be a trap. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects of our relationships, we should remember that our relationships are ministry opportunities. We can keep ourselves in check by asking ourselves, “Have I been my best spiritual self? Have I demonstrated enough Jesus for them to want Him?”
There are more than seven billion people on this earth, and God has specifically chosen everyone that is in our lives, even those that we wish weren’t in it. It’s easy to think that life would be great if we could trade in those around us for new and improved people. However, this is the wrong mindset. We shouldn’t think of our relationships as one-for-one exchanges.
For some of our relationships, we’re never going to get anything back. That person will never say “thank you,” they will never take us out to dinner, and they will never invite us on vacation. Despite all of this, God put them in our lives and has given us gifts so that they can see Jesus through us.
When we look at our relationships as ministry, they won’t stress us out, and we won’t carry unrealistic expectations.
Our placement and purpose are defined by our connections and the people around us. We can find our purpose, placement, and ministry by discerning God’s intentional connections in our lives. We are not connected to anyone by accident. Our purpose is to transfer the Jesus in us to those around us.
Our connections define our placements and priorities. Just like Jesus, when we find ourselves placed among tax collectors and sinners, our priority ought to be to heal those who are sick and bring about mercy.
“For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by all her children.” Luke 7:33-35
Meeting and knowing Jesus is to bring celebration into our lives. We did not accept Jesus into our lives just to be able to cope with misery. Instead, Christ brings us joy and abundant life. In Christ we have true freedom.
To live in this joy, we must not allow criticism from others to stop us from walking in our faith. The Pharisees in the passage above brought criticism to both John the Baptist and Jesus. John was called demon possessed, and Christ was called a glutton.
John the Baptist and Jesus, however, did not let this criticism interfere with their missions. It is important that we, too, do not allow criticism to stop us from living the faith that God has for us.
Faith is not God saving us from hurt, it is God granting us favor we don’t deserve to come out on the other side of that hurt. In our faith, we must persist even when persisting is hard. We must trust in God that our trials are for our benefit. When we are being criticized, made fun of, or insulted for our faith in God, we must keep walking in our faith.
Walking in our faith also helps us to grow. We cannot look to our church, family, or friends to solve our problems for us. When we persist in our faith and continue to walk in it, that is where the true joy of the Lord is found–even if things don’t always work out.
Even when doors aren’t opening and our lives are hard, we cannot stop following Christ. We must continue in our faith, always moving forward. We are not always going to get our way, but God is still a good God and a faithful provider. As long as we are continuing on, even if we are bleeding out, we can rejoice in the fact that God is sustaining us in our trials.
Because of our relationship with Jesus, we are stronger than the things that life is hitting us with because “Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4 KJV). Christ is in us, so we are strong, and obligated to be strong, in the Lord.
When life comes against you and the criticisms, hurt, and trials of this world show their teeth, say to yourself: “I am stronger.”
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the LORD's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "LORD, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the LORD answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:38-42 NIV).
Martha, like Mary, had a choice to make a value judgement between what was necessary in the kitchen and what is absolutely essential in the living room. She became confused about what true devotion looked like.
This passage raises the following question: How do we determine the greater purpose in our lives when we are saturated with pressing priorities?
Everything that is a priority is not equal to everything that is purposeful in the moment. Priorities that pull us from our purpose become spiritual distractions. Priorities were distracting Martha. Even though the priorities in the kitchen were pressing, Jesus’ response implies that Mary had remained seated in the higher purpose.
Here Jesus warns against priorities that become distractions until we forget to remain centered in God’s purpose.
Jesus wasn’t in the house to eat or enjoy a meal. He was there to shine a light, and that light was in the living room, not the kitchen. Jesus wanted to light purpose in Martha and Mary, but Martha let wood gathering become stronger than fire starting.
The kitchen was not all about Jesus for Martha, and we see that when she comes out of the kitchen. Martha’s disappointment in Mary shows us that the kitchen turned out to be nothing more than a busy offering to calm the distractions swelling inside of her.
It is important that we can separate our purpose and our priorities, even when those priorities are deeply spiritual. Every one of us lives with these tensions and pressing priorities, and these priorities can be good, healthy, and even spiritual. However, they can create a distraction from our purpose.
Martha should have discerned that if being in the kitchen caused her to become angry, even though Jesus was in the living room, then something is wrong.
We cannot be mad because someone else is in their purpose and we are stuck in our priorities. It is important that we never define our purpose by comparing ourselves to what is a priority to other people. We will never discover our purpose by comparing what we are thinking or doing with what someone else is doing or what someone else has. When we discern what is our purpose, we can do no greater harm than trying to compare our purpose to someone else’s.
It is impossible to be where God wants us to be if we are angry, distracted, or anxious. Our emotional state will reflect where we are in the Lord. Our tasks and responsibilities will become rewarding and fulfilling when we are flowing in purpose and not just focusing on the completion of our tasks and priorities.