That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. (John 21:7)
The Gospel reading for this week is an illustration of a very practical reason for knowing Scripture.
This account occurs after Jesus’ resurrection. A number of His disciples decided to drag out the nets and go fishing. When dawn illuminated the sky, a stranger was walking along the shore. The stranger asked the question asked of all fishermen: Had any luck? As happens so often when I’m fishing, the disciples answered, “No.”
At this point, the stranger has an odd request. He asks the fisherman to hurl the nets one more time. They do. They catch fish. A boatload of fish. Maybe more than a boatload, since they can’t haul in the nets.
Suddenly John, the disciple whom Jesus’ loved, recognizes the stranger. It’s Jesus. Simon Peter does his Simon Peter thing, throwing himself into the sea to get to Jesus on shore.
Why did John and Simon Peter suddenly recognize Jesus? I think one reason was that they were experiencing “déjà vu.” One of the times Jesus called them to follow Him, these men had finished a long night of unsuccessful fishing. Jesus had them get in the boat, push off of shore, cast their nets, and they had a miraculous catch. (Luke 5:2-11) It was happening all over again.
This points to a pragmatic reason to know the Bible inside and out. It even speaks to the blessings and benefits of memorizing Scripture.
- When we face trouble in life the way the disciples faced confusion at Jesus death, we can recall Scripture verses that provide immediate comfort.
- When we are struggling in a long dry spell the way the disciples did when not catching fish, we can remember Bible passages to help keep us going.
- When we need reassurance the way the disciples did in the confusing time after Jesus’ resurrection, there are Bible passages in mind to quickly provide reassurance.
Just as John and Simon Peter’s knowledge of Jesus blessed them that day on the Sea of Tiberias, so also our knowledge of God through Scripture can benefit us.
(A Second Look devotions are written for the congregations of the Ohio District LCMS.)