May 12, 2009 by

John 21 – “Coming to the End of Self”

Categories: Glimpses of Christ, Tags: , , , ,

Sometimes Jesus lets us get to the end of ourselves – to the point where we have to admit we have caught nothing, produced and amounted to nothing.

3-crosses-at-left-2READ JOHN 21:1-14

In one of His post resurrection appearances, Jesus came to the disciples after they had done their best and came up empty. They were good fishermen, it’s just that the fish weren’t biting… until Jesus came. He redirects their efforts and their nets could barely hold the catch!

Sometimes Jesus lets us get to the end of ourselves – to the point where we have to admit we have caught nothing, produced and amounted to nothing. He isn’t so interested in adding to our efforts – we could then take credit. He prefers to work through empty and yielded vessels that bring trust to the table and full glory to him. He performs great miracles through these vessels with nothing but childlike trust and sincere faith – attractive qualities to him.

“Lord, we’ve already done that, but because you say to do it, we will…” (Luke 5:5)

This is the posture of humility demonstrated by abandoning one’s perceptions, experiences, tactics, even fatigue, to embrace Jesus’ leadership and execute his sometimes counter-intuitive commands. This is the essence of following him:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Don’t be wise in your own eyes fear the Lord and turn from evil (Proverbs 3:5-7)

Litmus test: when we’re not willing to trust him and do what he says… then we may not yet be to the end of ourselves! This means that the old man is alive and well, large and in charge, tipping the hat to Christ but not trusting the heart to him.

Unfortunately for such a person the lessons to bring them to the inevitable reality of their personal inadequacy and His divine sufficiency can be quite painful and debilitating. The sad result can be a life lived in opposition to his purpose while still being aware of his presence  – assenting to his identity but resisting (maybe resenting)  his authority.

In Reflection: I have a ways to go to come to the end of myself. I’m still at the wheel, living under the delusion that I am in control of anything beyond my will. I can almost hear Christ calling to me from the shore (um…shouldn’t He be in the boat?)

Jesus:     “Jonathan, have you caught anything?”

Jon:     Just some minnow, maybe some plankton, I can’t tell. But no, Lord, not a blessed thing except a boatload of frustration and failure!”

Jesus:     “Throw your net on the other side of the boat and you’ll find some.”

Jon:     “Lord, I fished all sides of this boat. Are you saying that I’m not competent?”

Jesus:    “I’m sorry. You’re a fisherman right? And again, exactly how much have you caught?!”

Now, what I do with his last command will affect how I respond to the next one. And if I don’t trust him with what’s happening, odds are good I won’t trust him with what’s coming.

For Peter and me, it’s not about where I’m fishing but how I’m fishing and whose direction I am following. Jesus knows where and when the fish are biting. Following his direction guarantees a maximum catch.

The greater yield for Christ happens when I yield to Christ.

The issue is not the bait on the hook but the hand on the rod. And the results – proportionate to trust – reveal the truth.

One Response to John 21 – “Coming to the End of Self”

  1. Leo Wurschmidt

    To me, this is one of the biggest balancing acts of being a Christian. How much do I give to God without just sitting around doing nothing and how much do I do myself without beginning to allow self to creep in and take all the credit.