“If ye saw Him who is standing on the shore, holding out His arms to welcome you to land, ye would wade, not only through a sea of wrongs, but through hell itself to be with Him.” – Samuel Rutherford
Picture John 21 with me: seven men in a boat, weary after a fruitless night of fishing. Dawn just breaking over the Sea of Tiberias, gray light reflected on the water. A voice from a figure on the shore that nobody recognizes—until suddenly their nets are bursting with fish, so many that they can’t even haul them into the boat. Who else could it be?
“It is the Lord!” says John. And Peter immediately throws himself into the sea in order to get to Jesus as fast as possible.
This is one of my favorite scenes in all of the gospels, and it’s brought me both conviction and comfort over the past several years. Back when I first began to read the Bible for myself, I wondered what I would do if I were in Peter’s shoes at that moment. What kind of love makes a person leap overboard while they’re still a hundred yards out at sea? And where could I get that kind of love for Jesus?
It turns out it’s very simple. You just have to look at Him.
Samuel Rutherford, a Scottish pastor in the 1600s, once wrote a letter encouraging some downcast soul that all the strength they needed could be found in looking at Jesus. The logic was clear: if you could see Him, you would love Him, and that love would burn out everything else that tries to keep you from Him.
A.W. Tozer puts it another way in The Pursuit of God. Recalling the bronze serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness, he says that faith is “the gaze of a soul upon a saving God”—in other words, to look and to believe are the same thing.
To have faith is to see Christ, and to see Christ is to love Him. We know, too, that to love Christ is to obey Him (John 14:15). This is why 2 Corinthians 3:18 makes sense: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another.” Did you catch that? The act of beholding our Lord is the very thing that sanctifies us.
Think over the past month for a minute. Does your life reflect your love for Christ? Is it clear from your words, your actions, and your thoughts that you have your eyes fixed on Him? If you’re like me, the answer is both yes and no. We know that we love Him, but we want to love Him more. So what might be blocking your vision of Jesus today?
There were two times that Peter stepped out of a boat to go to Jesus, and I like to think about them side by side. The first time, Peter learned that fear was ready to devour him once he took his eyes off his Lord. The second time—after watching Jesus die for him and rise again in victory—Peter didn’t hesitate, and he didn’t care whether he was going to walk on the water or had to swim through it.
Sisters, let’s ask the Spirit to give us better vision, so we can clearly see our Savior waiting on the shore. And let’s go to him like Peter: running or swimming, unafraid of whatever lies in between, because our eyes are fixed on Christ.