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John 21:1-19

I once heard Richard Rohr make a comment that went something like, “There’s nothing to be learned from success after you turn 30.” Failure seems to be a great teacher, and now that I am much closer to my 40th birthday than I am to my 30th, I can attest that this is true. There is a certain amount of grace that comes to us when we face our failures squarely, seeking to learn what we can from our missteps and mistakes. Indeed, failures are fertile ground for growth.

Indeed, this is a notion that Jesus understood well. After the events of the Easter weekend, Jesus’ followers seemed steeped in failure. In the Garden, they all run away. Even after firmly declaring that he would never dissert or disown Jesus, poor Peter denies his Lord three times. Of course, who could forget how Peter chopped off that servant’s ear only to be rebuked by Jesus.

Even after the resurrection and Jesus has appeared to his followers twice, they still seem to be short on luck. As Peter and a few others try to catch some fish, they are once again proven failures. Some might suggest that Peter’s movement back to the fishing boats of his former days is a failure in and of itself. Surely Peter should be busying himself with the work of the revival, which has now begun with Jesus’ resurrection? Whether Peter decides to go fishing because he desires to go back to his old way of life, or if he chose to cast the nets out again in an attempt to put some food on the table of his friends and family, it does not matter. Well, at least it does not seem to matter to Jesus.

John opens this third post-resurrection story of Jesus revealing himself to the disciples with Peter and a few others frustrated after a long night of fishing. They are about to pack it all in when a voice calls out to them from the beach. These men do not know who it is at first, yet they respond anyway to the call to cast their nets once more on the other side of the boat. The evening’s frustrations and failures soon melt into the past as the net is raised to the surface revealing a tremendous catch, so much so that it becomes challenging to wrangle.

It’s then that these failures realize who it is that has called to them. Peter immediately abandons ship and swims to shore, leaving his friends to do all the work. In a moment of grace, Jesus invites his friends to bring some of their