Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Throughout Jesus’ ministry, how many times did his disciples tell the story of what happened near the beginning of that ministry—the time when Jesus told Peter to let down his fishing nets into deep water for a catch? When Peter, James, and John let down their nets as Jesus had directed, pure pandemonium broke out. Before these sleepy fishermen knew it, the nets were so full of fish that the nets began to break. And when they hauled the fish into the boats, the boats were so full that they began to sink.
It’s not hard to imagine watching one of the disciples tell that story around a campfire, backed up by good-natured laughter. It’s also not hard to imagine Jesus and his disciples exchanging looks with each other during the story—looks and nods and knowing smiles. After all, that’s typically what happens when people bond over a shared experience.
That bond of shared experience must have become poignant the day the resurrected Christ showed up on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Here’s what happened: Peter, James, John, and several others had decided to go fishing overnight, but they caught nothing. Suddenly there was a man on shore, but they couldn’t make out who he was. The man called out, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They did. And suddenly, they had on their hands a repeat of the fishing story they knew so well. The man on shore was Jesus. The man on shore was their Savior, their dear, dear friend.
Jesus has that same bond with you and me. Not only is he the One who lived a sinless life in our place and who suffered and died to cleanse us from every wrong. As our living Lord, he has been with you and me every moment of our lives. Every experience we’ve had, good and bad—Jesus has been there for it. He’s been there to carry us through. He’s been there to guide it all for our good.
That’s the kind of friend we have in Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank you for being by my side always. And thank you for being my dearest friend. Amen.