Crossroads: Recognizing Jesus

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John 21:1-14

Your Story

Talk about a time when you were surprised by a friend/relative who you didn’t recognize initially, but who recognized you. Was it a time when you got lost and that person found you? Was it a time when you were upset and that person comforted you? What happened?

My Story and the Bible Story

A few years ago, I ran into a friend from college at a Mercer football game. I was with some other friends and didn’t expect to see him there, so I actually walked right past him. All of a sudden, someone grabbed me into a hug, and when I looked up, I was overjoyed to see my friend! We were able to catch up on life and spend some time together. I’m so glad he recognized me when I didn’t recognize him.

Read John 21:1-14. From the Common English Bible: “Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberius. This is how it happened: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus [the same Thomas from the devotion last week]), Nathaniel from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. Simon 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. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus. Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” He 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. Then 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. The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from the shore, only about one hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught.” Simon 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. Jesus 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. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”

The disciples weren’t expecting to see Jesus on the shoreline. Jesus had risen from the dead and done many miraculous signs in the disciples’ presence, but they still weren’t expecting him that day. They had gone fishing, what they used to do to make money. Perhaps they were going back to fishing or maybe they just needed a little money, but whatever their reasons were, they had gone fishing. They fished all night but didn’t catch anything. Then, suddenly, there’s a man on the shore. And that man asks them if they’ve caught anything to eat. At this point, they still don’t know it’s Jesus. They may even think this person on the beach is just someone who is hungry, looking for others willing to share their food. Then the man makes an odd suggestion. He tells them to cast their net on the right side of the boat, and they would catch some fish. At this point, the disciples are probably a bit desperate, since they fished all night and still didn’t catch anything. So they figure “what could it hurt, putting the net on the right side of the boat,” so they follow the man’s instructions. And boy do they get more than they had bargained for! Instead of a few fish, there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul the net back into the boat! It was too heavy. All of a sudden, they realized that this man was Jesus. Jesus had once again performed a miracle, and they recognized him by his actions.

Like me with my friend, we don’t always recognize the people we know. Sometimes we are thinking about other things and walk right past people we care about. But hopefully, that person recognizes us and shows us who they are.

Sometimes, like the disciples, we don’t recognize Jesus. Jesus may not be standing on a shoreline, like in this story, but we can see Jesus in others. Sometimes we are so focused on how someone else is different from us that we miss seeing that Jesus is part of them too, just like he is part of us.

Discussion

• Ask your children to tell you about a time when someone recognized them before they recognized that person, or about a time when they recognized someone who didn’t recognize them. What happened?
• Talk about ways we can see Jesus in others (through their actions, how they treat others, etc.).
• This week, play a game as a family where you try to find one of Jesus’ qualities in every person you meet.

Prayer

Thank God that Jesus always recognizes us. Ask for help in recognizing Jesus in others.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

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