The Night of Failure (and the hope we have after)

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to (or even anyone who wants to want to) love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

Fire and COVID

I saw a news story today about a family of seven who lost their home in a wildfire in Malden, Washington. I could relate to that. Some of you know my mom lost her house in the Almeda fire in Talent, Oregon less than a month ago. That was terrible. But the thing about Matthew and Jessica Graham, and their five kids, is just a few days after their house burned to the ground, while staying with relatives, all seven family members tested positive for COVID-19. They’re all quarantined in a hotel room at the time of this writing. (Seattle Times)

Talk about a bad week.

The Disciples’ Go Fishing (for fish)

In our journey through the book of John we left off with the disciples getting together, and Jesus revealing himself to them. (To learn about how Jesus revealing himself is related to his disciples being together, see previous post Together (Intentionally))

Today we’ll learn about Jesus’ disciples’ night of failure and what came after.

Read John 21:1-14

Some of Jesus’ disciples were together: Simon Peter, Thomas (the one who believed when he saw Jesus’ wounds), Nathanael, James, John, and two others.

Peter announces, “I’m going fishing.”

And his mates say to him, “We’ll go with you.”

So they jump in their boat and fish all night long. But they catch nothing.

Just as the sun is coming up, Jesus is standing on the shore (although the disciples don’t realize it’s Jesus). And he says, “Children, do you have any fish?”

They say, “No.”

Then Jesus says, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”

So they do. And the catch is so great, they aren’t able to haul it into the boat.

Then it’s right at this point that John (the disciple whom Jesus loved) says to Peter, “It’s the Lord!”

When Peter hears it’s Jesus, he puts on his outer garment (because he was working hard he had taken it off) and jumps into the water and makes his way toward Jesus. The other disciples come in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they’re only about a hundred yards from the shore.

When they make it to land, they see a charcoal fire in place with fish laid out on it and bread.

And Jesus says to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

So Simon Peter hauled the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153 of them. But although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Then Jesus says, “Come and have breakfast.”

They didn’t ask who it was because they knew it was the Lord. And Jesus took the bread and the fish, and gave it to them.

This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

The Disciples’ Night of Failure

So here we see a group of Jesus’ disciples, together, fishing, all night long. And their all night effort turns out to be a failure. I’ve been hearing about failure a lot lately: Family and friends losing their jobs, houses burning down, a person I know died of COVID (and he was only in his forties), failing health unrelated to COVID, people failing in their relationships because they’re feeling raw. Sometimes it feels like all of 2020 has been one long night of failure.

Today, I just want to say that after a long night of failure, sometimes, Jesus shows up in the best possible way. In our text, when Jesus showed up, the material vocational failure of his disciples’ commercial fishing venture came to an unexpected and spectacular end.

When things are hard, it’s human nature to think things will stay that way and will always be hard. And, when things are going well, it’s human nature to think things will stay that way too. But neither is true. Everything cycles. Things are hard right now, and maybe they’ll be hard for a while longer. But it won’t last forever.

Yes 2020 feels like a long night of failure, but take heart and look for Jesus on the shoreline so to speak. And when you see him, jump at the opportunity to connect with him the way Peter did. You know, the interesting thing about our story is that the great catch of fish was wonderful, but what happened after was 1,000 times more wonderful.

The best thing by far that happened to the disciples wasn’t the present of the fish.

It was the presence of Jesus.

Breakfast with the Son of God himself. That was the best thing by far that happened to the disciples.

And here’s the thing for you and for me: you and I don’t have to wait until the long night is over. We can seek him and connect with him now, even in the midst of our failure, whatever that might be.

So I’m offering you hope. Hope that Jesus will come through the way he did for his disciples in our passage. Hope that Jesus will end your night of failure in spectacular fashion.

And the even greater hope that Jesus will end your night of failure by revealing himself to you.

That would be the best possible thing that could happen to anyone in 2020.

Lord, please help during this difficult time. Help us overcome our failures, but more importantly, help us to connect with you the way your disciples did that morning after an all night failure. Bless us with connection with you in the best most intimate way possible. Give us your Spirit and lift us above our circumstances and environment.

“In Jesus name.


Newly released book by Kurt Bennett, now available on Amazon!

Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus)

Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others.

Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:

  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too.

A life of loving like Jesus.

(Kindlehardcover, and paperback now available on Amazon.)

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