July 5th was an especially beautiful worship service for Northstar Blacksburg and Northstar Pulaski. We joined together at Claytor Lake for one unified service. Jeff Noble, the lead pastor at Northstar Blacksburg delivered a message entitled, “A Miracle at the Lake.” (click link for podcast) The breathtaking backdrop of Claytor Lake provided the perfect context for a sermon that was based on an encounter with Jesus, that happened at the Sea of Galilee. The focal passage for Jeff’s message was John 21:1-14:
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.
The setting of this miraculous experience is what has been called the “cradle of the gospel,” the Sea of Galilee. This location brought things full circle in many ways. As Jeff pointed out, “This has all the makings of a God’s love for tying up loose ends.” The Sea of Galilee was the “home base” of Jesus’ ministry (Capernaum) and there were many other miracles and happenings involving Jesus.
- Jesus calls his first disciples and started His ministry from the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:1-11)
- The feeding of 5,00 people (Matthew 14:13-21)
- Jesus cast out a legion of demons (Luke 8:26-37)
- Jesus walked on water (Matthew 14:22-33)
- Jesus stilled a storm just by speaking it to calm (Mark 4:35-41)
These 14 verses of scripture are dense with truth that we can meditate on and apply to our lives. First, the disciples were somewhat idle and unsure what to do. Jesus had been crucified and resurrected a short time before, which threw off everything they had known about being a follower of Jesus. The disciples decided to do what they knew and were good at, fish. This provides us with an example to follow when we are unsure what the Lord expects of us. Do something with purpose that you are good at, while waiting expectantly to hear from God. Don’t get so busy in the routine of life that you forget to look for Jesus.
It is interesting the disciples were career fisherman, yet they were unable to catch anything on that particular day. However, when Jesus entered the situation and the disciples obeyed His instruction they excelled at what they were endeavoring to do. Isn’t this a beautiful depiction of what we know to be true based on God’s word? Apart from God we cannot be fruitful, even in the things you are most talented in. Fruitfulness is dependent on an intimate and deep love relationship with God, through Jesus (John 15:5). Obedience yields abundance of life.
This event was also a trigger event for the disciples. It had only been about 18 months prior that they found themselves at the Sea of Galilee with Jesus (Luke 5:1-11). At that time Jesus called the disciples to ministry, and gave them the charge of becoming “fishers of men.” This follow up event connected the dots for the disciples. It reminded them of where they first began and reminded them of their original calling. We all need a “lake moment” in our life from time to time. A moment where we remember our original calling–and that our relationship with Jesus must be the most important thing in our lives.
Another beautiful storyline within this miracle at the lake is specific to Peter. Peter had denied Jesus three times during the crucifixion (Luke 22:59-62). Peter was cloaked in failure but knew the safest place for a sinner is at the feet of Jesus. He didn’t wait for the boat to arrive on shore. Once he knew it was Jesus on the shore he swam ahead, refusing to wait one moment more. He knew that what he needed most was the redemptive love of His Lord and Savior. Jesus is a man and is God that no matter what you’ve done he loves you.
We wrapped up the worship service with one of the most stripped down, true, and timeless songs…Jesus Loves Me.
We sing this song often to children but forget the deep truths embedded in the simple words. Take a moment to meditate on the lengths to which Jesus is willing to go, in order to have a love relationship with you.
Jesus loves me this I know / For the Bible tells me so / Little ones to Him belong / They are weak but He is strong / Yes, Jesus loves me / Yes, Jesus loves me / Yes, Jesus loves me / The Bible tells me so