Are You Going Backwards?


After the resurrection, the Lord told the disciples that He would see them in Galilee (Matthew 28:10). So, after the second Sunday when the Passover Feast was over, they began the eighty–mile walk north to the Galilee area of Israel. Imagine Peter's feelings as he anticipated this meeting with Christ. He evidently must have been struggling with his denial of Christ. The Lord knew Peter's heart. He made sure that Peter got the invitation! When the angels at the empty tomb appeared to the women after the resurrection, they singled out Peter, saying,


But go, tell his disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you (Mark 16:7; emphasis mine).


We all fear confrontation. There has to be something wrong with a person if he or she enjoys being confronted with sin or mistakes. Confrontation, though, can be one of the most loving things a person can do to others or have done to them. The Lord said to Mary Magdelene to tell Peter that He would see him in Galilee, which I am sure would have been very unsettling to the broken-hearted disciple. We have all had times when we have had to face our failures. The enemy of our souls would have us believe that we are out for the count and not worthy, and by our poor self-image halt or slow our spiritual growth and effectiveness.


Satan knows what will happen when we get up from the dust of our sin. We will arise, having learned something more of God's grace and something more of our need to lean on Christ. Our thankfulness deepens, and our failures make us stronger. We become humbler and more dependent on the grace of God. It is how we respond to our failure that makes the difference in where we go from that point. We are to fail forward and continue to walk.


When the group finally arrived at the Sea of Galilee, while they waited for Jesus, Peter went back to what he did in his younger days:


“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 (John 21:3).


In my younger years I was a commercial fisherman on the East coast of England. To a person who has experienced living by and on the sea, there is a particular attraction to be beside the sea. It can be the tranquility of the waves washing up the beach, the smell of the water, the beauty of the lake itself, and of course, the smell of the fish at the harbor. It was all too tempting to Peter, and all the old memories came back to him of the good times. Isn’t it interesting that, when we are tempted to go back, we never remember the hard times, only the good times?

We are never fulfilled spiritually by going backward. When the children of Israel found the going tough on the way to the Promised Land, they wanted to go back to Egypt, but that was not an option (Numbers 14:1-4). When I felt the Lord speaking to me to leave my very lucrative job in commercial fishing and follow Him, I left my nets and began cleaning windows for a fragile living. The Lord had me in training for many years before I was in full-time ministry. There were times when I thought about going back to my work as a fisherman, wondering if I had made the right choice. If I had gone back, I do not believe I would be doing the work I am doing today. It was time for me to leave my nets behind. The trouble with going back is that we often draw others with us, and that is the case with Peter that day, for six others went with him. We all influence others with our lives, some more, some less, but when we influence others to join us in our going backward, it is never a good thing. We are to fix our eyes on Jesus and walk this life of faith. Keith Thomas


Taken from the Bible study in the Gospel of John: 42. Jesus Reinstates Peter