“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.” John 21:7 NIV
This morning I slept in and woke up at 1:45am. OK, let me explain. My husband and I own a small personal training studio in a small beach town, Flagler Beach in Florida. Our day normally starts at 5am, with our first clients trying to get their workouts in before work. So we are early to bed and ridiculously early to rise. Bed time is usually in between 6:30-7:30pm and we wake somewhere between 3:30-4am. EXCEPT for when The Good Lord is doing a work in me. Then I tend to spontaneously wake a few hours BEFORE the alarm sounds. Let me do that math for you if you haven't worked that out in your head yet. When I am in a period of what I call "Awakening" it is not uncommon for me to wake up between 11:30pm and 12:30am, that's an average of 4-5 hours of sleep a night. These periods can last for a few days or a few weeks. Today I am rounding the bend of the end of week 3. Now all of this might sound like I'm complaining, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I would sacrifice my sleep any day and every day to hear from Jesus. These are the times in my life that have changed me for the better, molded me more into His image, and propelled me towards my purpose. In these seasons I am awakened to passions I never knew were inside of me. My Bible reading reaches new heights and things I have read many times before, take on new meaning. This was definitely the case with John 21:7 this morning.
In the last chapter of the Gospel of John some the Apostles have decided to do a little night fishing. They are out on a boat in the water, but aren't catching anything, sound familiar?
The dawn was breaking and soon their fishing nets would be also.
“And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch. " So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.” John 21:6 NASB
Now according to John this is the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples after his death on Calvary. But this is the first time that John specifically says that Peter was present. My mind wanders a bit. Was Peter filled with so much shame after denying Jesus 3 times the night of His arrest that he hid himself away those first few weeks after Jesus' execution? He was one of the Apostles that ran to Jesus' tomb after Mary announced that Jesus was missing from the grave. Even though according to "the disciple that Jesus loved", (that would be John himself, speaking in the 3rd person), Peter lost the race to the tomb because he was to slow. Now I see where my husband gets his desire to make everything a race or friendly competition. It just might be in the male genes. See, I have a wondering mind.
“So she ran and came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and said to them, "They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him." So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first;” John 20:2-4 NASB
Anyway, back to scene on the boat. When the Apostles pulled up the net I believe they remembered that day long ago when Jesus performed the first miracle in their midst. The same miracle. Empty waters, suddenly teeming with fish. At this, John states the obvious.
“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord." So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work ), and threw himself into the sea.” John 21:7 NASB
Then Peter responded in an interesting way. He got dressed, THEN jumped in the water to swim to Jesus. He was so excited to see Jesus, he couldn't even wait for the nets to finish emptying and the boat to get to shore. BUT he did take the time to cover himself. Again, my mind wonders, this time it takes me back to a much earlier time in history.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.” Genesis 3:7 NASB
Now it is common belief that Peter wasn't completely naked, hanging out on a boat with other men. Most scholars believe he was wearing either a loin cloth or maybe even a light tunic. Also it was customary in those days to have on an outer garment when greeting someone so putting on his "coat" may have been the sensible thing to do. Even though, to me, putting on a heavy coat BEFORE taking a swim seems a little crazy. It was here, at the end of John 21:7, that The Holy Spirit spoke to my heart. I felt Peters shame. I too, have attempted to cover myself before running to Jesus. And I am sure I looked just as ridiculous as Peter swimming in his clothes and Eve standing there in shrubbery.
Here's the deal, no really, this is the deal of a lifetime, literally. Jesus wants to meet with you right where you are. He doesn't care about what you are wearing. He doesn't care about cultural customs or society imposed rules. He just cares about you. He cares for so much that He died a horrific death so you could be in right standing before His Father, so you could stand tall before your Father. Naked and unashamed. Fully exposed so you can be clothed in righteousness. Stop trying to cover up your hurts, habits and hang ups. He knows all about them anyway. Let Him expose you even further, so He can exchange your heart of stone for a heart of flesh, alive and beating for Him alone. As I sit in my dark living room in nothing but my nightgown, I pray that the next time we feel like trying to cover up our sin before we approach The Throne of Grace, that instead we will strip ourselves bare and sit humbly at His feet, allowing Him to comfort us, like only He can, so He can completely cover us in His unending love that never fails.