Life’s Epic Journey

Where is the epic journey of life taking you?

Life’s Epic Journey
Photo by Kimson Doan / Unsplash

Tonight we are celebrating! We are celebrating the confirmation of these nine awesome people.

Chuck Knows Church – 76|Confirmation (Part 2)

Our confirmation process is called Epic and approaches our relationships with Christ as an epic journey. Sometimes we take detours or a wrong turns, sometimes we vier off the road, but our journey of faith is consistently recalculating to bring us closer to God.

This is a journey that we all are on. No matter our age or place in life, whether we have been through confirmation or not; we are all on an epic journey in relationship with Christ. This journey is unique to each of us and because it is a journey, our views of God and our practice of faith change as we experience and grow.

Our scripture tonight is about a celebration. It’s Jesus’ third resurrection appearance mentioned in the book of John. Here’s what the scripture says:

1Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. This is how it happened: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus or the twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. 3Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.”

They said, “We’ll go with you.” They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. 4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus.

5Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

They answered him, “No.”

6He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. 7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards.

9When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” 11Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:1–14 (CEB)

This is a great scripture for tonight because on the surface it’s a celebration. Jesus returns to his friends and they celebrate over a meal. In fact, a year ago I stood here and talked about how great sharing a meal in a community of believers is and used this scripture as the basis.

As I mentioned a few minutes ago, our journeys in faith are epic and lifelong. Our view of God and our interaction with our faith changes as we grow and move through life. And as I was reading this scripture again this week, and as I read the commentary footnotes, something stood out to me.

This scripture is a parable. Confirmation question, what’s a parable? A story used to teach a spiritual message. This is how Jesus taught throughout his ministry. And interestingly enough, this is what Jesus is doing here. He’s teaching his Disciples one more time, by appearing to them on the shoreline.

The Disciples were not Biblical students or scholars. They were tradesmen when Jesus arrived and said “Follow me.” He told them he would help them fish for people — that he would give them the tools to share his message and spread the Kingdom of God. They followed and they learned.

Then Jesus was arrested and killed. The Disciples were lost. They didn’t know what to do. Jesus had given them the tools, yet they didn’t know what to do without him. So they went back to what they knew: fishing.

Simon Peter told the Disciples, “I’m going fishing.”

The Disciples said, “We’ll go with you.” John 21:3 (CEB)

They went back to what they knew, except they couldn’t catch anything. An empty net and a long night. I imagine they were distraught. Frustrated. Probably a bit lost.

This happens to us sometimes on our epic journey through life. These are those detours and points where we vier off the road. Things don’t go the way we think they should and we get frustrated and angry. Sometimes we pull the car over and just think, “I need to go fishing.”

Yet, in our scripture tonight — the parable that Jesus shares through his actions — Jesus arrives with simple words.

5Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”

They answered him, “No.”

6He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” John 21:5-6 (CEB)

Now, when I read this last year, it reads as a miracle. They haven’t caught anything all night and then bam, full nets. And it is a miracle. But it’s more than that. These are fishermen, don’t you think they would have tried the nets on the other side of the boat at some point?

But they immediately know what is happening. Jesus — their teacher, Lord, and savior — has returned with a simple word of advice. They listened. This parable explains that without Jesus, without listening to his teachings and following his ways, we’re going to vier off the road. We’re going to be lost and frustrated and not catch any fish.

Their epic journeys had taken a detour. Jesus was crucified and they didn’t know what to do. Yet Jesus showed up and said, come on back to the road, we’ve got things to do. When the Disciples realized what was happening, they feasted on the beach. They celebrated.

This epic journey of life is not always easy. We might pull over and get frustrated, find ourselves lost or unsure of what to do next. Angry. Upset. Hurt. Yet Jesus is there, back on the road, helping to guide us back toward him. He’s given us the tools. He’s given us the instructions. He wants us to use them to spread his Kingdom and share his message of love with all we encounter.

So just as these nine students did this evening, we all need to take a step in this epic journey of life and faith. When things are difficult, we need to find our way back onto the road pointing at Jesus.

We also need to celebrate our journeys with each other often. Jesus is sitting there at the end of the road with a fire and fish. He’s ready to share the meal. So let’s each take a step tonight. No matter where this epic journey of life has taken you, let’s take a step toward Jesus.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!