Friday, September 19, 2014

Recognizing the Closed and Open Door


Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” – John 21:3

Often in life we have to make decisions about our future.  The most common has to do with our occupation.  As Christians, we’re told to pray about it and seek God’s will.  But often, it can be hard to hear God’s voice over our own prideful and ambitious voice. 

Simon Peter and five of the other apostles were faced with that very decision after Jesus had died.  In John 21 we find them all gathered at the Sea of Tiberius.  I can just see them sitting there, mourning the loss of their dearest friend, wondering where He had gone having seen Him risen from the dead.  Feeling like it was the end of an era, like the life they had in Christ had ended, Simon makes a move.  He announces “I am going fishing.”  Simon Peter, having been called to follow Jesus when he was fishing in Matthew 4:18, was ready to return to the life he had.

When we leave the life we have in Christ to take an alternate route, we often take others with us.  This was the case with the remaining disciples, who all decided to just fish with Simon Peter.  Yet, there weren’t to be successful fishers.  John tells us that they fished all night and didn’t catch a single fish.  Six guys in a boat all night, and not one fish caught.  Through spiritual eyes, we can see the closed door that God had given to their fishing career.  Yet, Jesus had mercy.

Walking along the shoreline, Jesus calls to them asking “Children, have you any food?”  Children need guidance and discipline.  He intentionally called these grown men children as a reference to their behavior.

They didn’t know who Jesus was, but when He called again to them to cast their nets to the other side of the boat, they did.  The number of fish they caught in a single net on a single throw was more than they could bring into the boat!  Following Jesus’ commands has its blessings!

When they recognized Jesus, Simon jumped into the waters and swam to shore to be with Jesus.  His love for Jesus had not changed, but his will to follow had, and Jesus was there to show him the closed door, and the open door for His life.  The conversation that they had following the meal Jesus cooked for them was to pull Simon Peter back onto the path He was to take.  It is found in John 21:15-17.

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?”  He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.”

He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.”

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”

Jesus asked the question “Do you love me?” three times. Simon had earlier denied Him three times.  In Hebrew, anything said three times signifies completeness, a perfection of truth, as a sworn promise.  Each time Simon Peter answered, Jesus showed him His role, the open door he was to take in life. 

“Feed My lambs”, which are those that are young in faith and need guidance and to know the Word.  “Tend My sheep”, which are those that are mature in the faith yet still need guidance and protection from the enemy.  And last, “Feed my sheep”, by giving them the word of God, their daily bread.

Through those three commands, Jesus called Simon Peter to a greater work, and away from fishing.

When we have a decision in life to make, God can provide a closed door – and an open door.  Peter may have been a good fisherman before he met Jesus, but he wasn’t a good fisherman after!  In spite of it being what Peter was comfortable doing, God had closed that door.  God wanted to pull him from his comfort zone into a role that would change lives, and inevitably history itself.  God provided a closed door to fishing, and an open door to ministry.  And thanks to Peter’s obedience, many were saved through his ministry.  Jesus’ lambs and sheep were well fed and well cared for.

Is God calling you out of your comfort zone?  Ask Him to show you the open door, and to close all others.  Ask Him to help you discern His will and His voice.

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