Simon Peter didn’t quite know what to do with himself. The events of the past week or so had left him with a lack of clear direction. Jesus had died. And as bad as that must have been for Jesus, Peter couldn’t quite get past focusing on his own pain and shame in respect to that horrific event. More galling was the fact that Jesus had nailed it with his prediction that, in the end, Peter would be forever known as the denier. Not once, not twice, but three times. Yes, Jesus had resurrected. He had once more pulled off the impossible. That was great. But Peter was still quite broken, wallowing day after day in his own self-loathing.
The cities and villages of that day were filled each morning with the ubiquitous racket of roosters proudly announcing the day. Peter shuddered at the abrasive dissonance of their off-key chorus. Were they all to sound off together, just the once, it would have been slightly more tolerable. But that is not the way of roosters. As with humans, you have both the early birds and the late risers and they each work their craft at their own whimsy. Some even sound off throughout the night. Each cock-a-doodle-do sounded to Peter like a collective ornithological mock – a contemptuous “You chicken!” coming, oddly enough, from a bunch of chickens. Peter picked up a rock to make purchase with one of the choristers and then remembered Jesus’ words to the Pharisees, “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone.” Aargh! He dropped the rock and swore.
What is one to do with a risen Savior who pops in, says a word or two, then vanishes before your eyes? It was unsettling, uncanny and unfair. Peter was an impulsive man – a man of action. He needed something to do, something to take his mind off the wretched spinning wheel of thoughts and the heckling roosters. And so, on a whim, Peter stomped off. The King James Version of the Bible gives to us a lovely, medieval turn of phrase at what came next: “Simon Peter saith unto them, ‘I go a fishing.’ They say unto him, ‘We also go with thee.’ They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately ~John 21:3a
I go a fishing! Some comfort was found in returning to the familiar. As a bonus, the harsh cry of the taunting roosters was softened by the lapping of the waves against the boat. Peter settled in. THIS was his call. He was a fisherman. Yes, he had made a hash of being a disciple, but THIS he could do. Or so he thought: “…and that night they caught nothing.” ~John 21:3b