Starting: Starting Over

We celebrate Easter because it means that we have hope, and in a world where hope so easily seems like a fleeting thing, it’s critically important. As Christians, Easter is similar to a pep rally for us. It’s our Super Bowl.

However, for the original people facing this day, which we now know as Resurrection Day (Easter), it wasn’t a pep rally at all. They weren’t celebrating in the way we celebrate. They weren’t saying, “He is risen!” To them it was like a day after.

Have you ever had a day after?

Something happens the day before, something big and not necessarily something good.
  • A relationship ended.
  • A job was lost.
  • A medical diagnosis was determined.
  • A loved one passed away.

Something came to an end.

There’s this thing that happens the day after. It’s almost like you wake up, and for a moment, everything seems okay, but then the reality of what happened hits. That’s how it was on the original Resurrection Day. The people woke up wondering what happened a couple of days before. It wasn’t the anticipation of brunch, egg hunts, sales, or the like. For them, it was quiet, uncertain, and unknown.

But starting over doesn’t have to be a bad thing. It can be really good! 

When we start a new season of life and begin a new adventure, it can feel great to leave some things behind. It can feel great to leave a place or set of circumstances behind. It can feel refreshing to look ahead to what seems like a clean slate.

But sometimes, starting over is not so great.

Sometimes we feel like a certain period was a waste. We invested energy, love, time, or finances into something we thought would go a specific way but didn’t. It leaves us asking, “What do we do now? How do we start over?”

John 21
1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.[a] It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus[b]), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “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.

Have you ever started over guns blazing, ready to change your world, but nothing good happens? That’s how they felt. But when we start over, it’s human nature to return to what we know.

We start with something that brings us comfort or certainty when we start over. And maybe that’s what Peter is doing here. Or maybe Peter is done. He just lost his Rabbi, his friend, his status, his plans and hopes, and the belief system he built his life on. He basically lost everything.

John 21
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

6 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.

  1. Sometimes, someone comes up to you when things aren’t going well and says, “How’s it going?”
  2. Then Jesus does a thing they all remember keenly. When Peter first followed Jesus, the same thing happened. It’s like Jesus is posting signs that only Peter and Jesus’ followers would understand the deeper meaning of.

John 21
7 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. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.  10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 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. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

Did Jesus get mad and say, “You’ll get what’s coming to you, I’ll never let you forget this”? No, He invited them to breakfast.

John 21
None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

  1. We have this phrase: The elephant in the room. It’s awkward – someone did something, something was said, something happened, and everyone knows it.
  2. We often assume that our lives are closest to God when things are going well. We feel like Jesus is by our side when we’ve made good decisions, and it seems like things are going according to plan. And when we’ve failed, we’re far from God. But the Bible tells us that God is actually closest to us in our weakness. So, Jesus doesn’t rub it in; He redeems!

John 21
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus is so intentional with this. It’s a journey. Three times. Peter is one of those guys who speaks first and thinks later. It’s almost like Jesus is confronting him with a true reality – by the third time, it’s not a gut reaction. It’s intentional.

Jesus doesn’t look at your track record. He looks at where your heart is.

He gives Peter something to do. He basically says, “You thought you were starting over, and you’re right, but not in the way you expected.”

John 21
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Jesus predicts the course of Peter’s life. He tells him the road he’s been on will prepare him for the road ahead. We don’t have boats filled with fishing nets, bait, and tackle that we can take or return to when we start over. We usually have something much smaller – a box.

When you start over, there’s usually a box involved. Maybe you moved out of a house, lost a job, or started a new one. There’s something you leave with. Something you carry into the next season.

A box is filled with things that make you who you are, paint the picture of your most important relationships, help you do what you do, and mark your experiences in the last season or your hopes for the next.

We need to allow Jesus to do something with the stuff in our boxes.

Jesus doesn’t throw all the things in our boxes out. He works through the contents and shows us what can be. Maybe there’s something greater we want to do with our hopes, expectations, skills, relationships, memories, wishes, fears, failures, hurts, or baggage.

However, maybe your box isn’t filled with regret. Maybe it holds successes, accomplishments, and achievements, but it hasn’t brought the satisfaction you were hoping for. Some of us want a completely different box or wish we could switch some things out.

Can you imagine how Peter felt? His last act before this was the ultimate failure and shame. But like Peter, Jesus doesn’t meet us with condemnation or judgment, even if we think that’s what we deserve.

This all comes down to trust. The trust that Jesus is the ultimate start over.

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