“I love your new haircut.” “You are such a great host.” “That color looks so good on you.” Thank you for being such a wonderful friend.” “I love what you did with the landscape in the front of your house.” “You’re in great shape.” We love to receive compliments. It makes us feel good to be appreciated and noticed. One simple compliment can change your entire day. We love receiving compliments so much that there are actually apps you can have on your smart phone that will generate compliments for you throughout the day. And no, these compliments are not intended for you to give to someone else. They’re meant for you.  Your phone buzzes, you take a look, and it says, “You’re the best. Keep being you.” 

Are you ever in need of a compliment, reassurance, comfort, not from a positive affirmation app, but from Jesus? Do you ever need to be reminded that Jesus cares about you? That he is powerful and is in absolute control of your life? That Jesus loves you no matter what happened in the past? That he will continue to love you and prepare you for whatever is ahead, no matter how uncertain it may seem? Me too. 

So did Peter. “I’m going out to fish.” He didn’t know what else to do. The past few weeks had been a rollercoaster of the highest highs and the lowest lows – the victory parade into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the nightmare of Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and of course the inexpressible wonder of Easter Sunday. But also bouncing around in Peter’s noggin must have been the confident words he spoke to Jesus in the upper room of how he would surely go to prison and even death with his Lord, his statements and curses of denial just hours later, and the look he received from Jesus when the rooster crowed. Yes, Peter knew he was forgiven, but was he still wondering where he really stood with Jesus? Maybe. 

Peter was sitting with Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two others. They were just waiting in Galilee, the place where Jesus said he would meet them. But the wait was disorienting for Peter. He was all about action and impulse, “what’s next.” But Jesus wasn’t there, and he hadn’t told them what was next. There was a time that Peter used to know exactly what to do: prepare the nets, the boat, and go fishing. Take what he caught and sell it in the market. Fishing was hard and sometimes dangerous work, but Peter always knew what was next. The memory of the familiar was comforting. So as long as he didn’t know what else to do and they were already by the Sea of Galilee, he figured he might as well do something productive. The others replied, “We’ll go with you.” Perhaps Peter wasn’t the only restless one.

These seven disciples fished all night. They cast their nets and pulled, nothing. Cast and pull, nothing. They would try the other side of the boat, nothing. They moved the boat, nothing. They went a little deeper, nothing, a little shallower, still nothing. “Where are the fish?” “Whose idea was this?” But then just as day was breaking, they heard a voice from shore. “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” They couldn’t make out who the man on shore was, nor did they recognize the voice. “No,” they shouted back. “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” Normally, this unsolicited advice would have irritated such experienced fishermen, but these instructions were familiar. This had happened before. Maybe Peter and John glanced at one another as they tossed the net. The sudden weight almost pulled them overboard. Fish! And they were huge! They couldn’t get the net back into the boat. John’s eyes had to be as big as the fish when he looked at Peter and said, “It is the Lord!” Peter dropped his part of the net, wrapped his outer garment around himself, and dove into the sea, leaving the others to tow the bulging net. When they all got to shore, Jesus was preparing breakfast. He already had a burning fire and fish. He said, perhaps with a tease of affection, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” Then Jesus served them breakfast.

Of all the post-resurrection appearances and events recorded in the four gospels, this is my favorite. It’s my favorite because it so highlights Jesus’ care, power, and love for our everyday lives. – Jesus, the Son of God, came to earth and lived as a human being. He was obedient to every law and command God placed upon the human race. He was perfect. Then Jesus was crucified as a criminal, and as he hung there on the cross he took all the sin, guilt, and punishment of every person to ever live. He endured God’s wrath for every sin. He died. Three days later, he rose from the dead. Jesus conquered death, showed our sins really are forgiven, and accomplished his purpose for coming to earth in the first place. But here’s the amazing part and the reason I love this reading so much:  After rising from the dead on Easter Sunday, Jesus didn’t just say, “Well, my work here is done, I’m out of here.” And immediately ascend into heaven. No. Jesus spent 40 days appearing to his disciples and followers. Proving that he really was alive, and reassuring, comforting, and preparing them for everything that was ahead. Yes, Jesus is our Savior from sin, death, and hell. Because of everything he did, we will spend eternity in heaven. And we should never minimize or overlook that. Yet Jesus doesn’t only care about your eternity, he cares about your here and now. Jesus is your everyday Savior. 

Living in a sinful world gets us down; it has a toll on us. It grinds us. Just watching the evening news is exhausting. Maybe like Peter, there are times that you just don’t know what to do next. You get divorced. You have a miscarriage. You lose your job. You lose your spouse, your son, your mom. All of your kids have moved out of the house. You receive a terrible prognosis. What are you supposed to do next? 

Maybe like Peter, things you have said or done continue to bounce around in your noggin. If you would have just kept your mouth shut. If you would have said something to build up your spouse instead of tear her down. If you wouldn’t have been in that place at that time. You wish you could just take it all back. Yes, you know that you are forgiven, but the guilt is still there. And you sometimes wonder, where do I really stand with Jesus?

Maybe like Peter, you’re restless. You can’t sit still, and you can’t sleep either. You just think of how busy you are and everything you need to do and all that is expected of you. And no matter what you do or how hard you try, you always seem to fail. You try to plan ahead for you and your family; you think you have it all figured out, and then you’re faced with change, change you can’t control. You begin to wonder, does Jesus even care or have any power over my life at all?

Jesus showed he cared about every part of the disciples’ lives by giving them a miraculous catch of fish. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. He showed his love and guidance by both providing and sharing a meal with them. He didn’t have to do that, but he did. He even began to prepare them for what was next and hinted at where he and Peter stood? He didn’t have to do that either, but he did. He did all of it. Why? – None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus appeared to his disciples this third time to strengthen their faith and trust in him as their risen Savior. He appeared to them to strengthen their faith and trust in him as their everyday Savior.

This wasn’t the first time Jesus had performed this miracle. Three years before Jesus used Peter’s fishing boat as a floating pulpit as he taught the large crowds that had gathered on the shore. After teaching, he told Peter to put out to deep water and let down his net. That previous night too, Peter hadn’t caught a thing. But, of course, he caught so many fish the boat began to sink. Even more significant than the connection between the two miracles is what Jesus did immediately after that first miraculous catch. He called them to be his full-time disciples. He made them fishers of men. And now three years later they would go and do the same. They would proclaim their risen and everyday Savior to the ends of the earth. 

And where did Peter stand with the Lord he had denied? Later today or later this week, open your Bible and read the rest of John chapter 21. Jesus reinstates Peter as his disciple. He confirms his love for him and gives him the mission of feeding his lambs and sheep. Peter would know exactly where he stood with Jesus, and how much Jesus loved and cared about him. Peter would know exactly what he was supposed to do next.

I guess that just leaves you and me. Jesus probably isn’t going to stand on the bank of the Wolf River and tell you to cast on the other side of your boat. He doesn’t need to. Everything Jesus did here in John chapter 21 is just as much for you as it was for Peter and the disciples. Jesus cares about every part of your life no matter how big or small it may seem. Jesus is in control using everything for your eternal good. Jesus comes to you again and again through his Word and through his Sacrament always reminding you of his love and forgiveness. He points to his cross and empty tomb. He says, “Trust me. We are so good. I have taken away all of your sin and guilt. You need not carry it any longer. And since I have taken care of your eternity, know that I have you everyday.” Yes, your everyday Savior continues to wrap is arms around you, giving you all reassurance and comfort.

Will you sing with me again the last stanza of the previous hymn? The fact that Jesus is our everyday Savior makes him all the more worthy of praise. Please stand and sing with me: “He rose, he rose, My heart with thanks now overflows. His song prolong ‘Til ev’ry heart to him belong. Worthy is the Lamb whose death makes me his own! The Lamb is reigning on his throne.”