“He said, ‘Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’” (John 21: 6). Millions of us now belong to social networks with more joining Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn every day. Have you ever wondered whether, if Christ was on Facebook, He would accept you as one of His friends? Or if He had a Twitter account, would you be one of His followers? Or professionally if you offered Him an invitation to be LinkedIn, would He accept?
I know I have wondered these things. Some of us abuse our social network connections with inappropriate postings and dirty messages. I am sure Christ would post a “Dislike” or would “un-friend” many of us on Facebook, because we’ve cast our ‘Social Nets’ on the left side (wrong side) of the boat; therefore, we are catching nothing but grief.
So after fishing all night and catching nothing, Christ commands the disciples to cast your net on the right side of the boat and immediately without hesitation the disciples did so, and their obedience led to instant success. John (21:4) tells us, “The disciples did not recognize Jesus,” so to those seven disciples at that time the man giving instructions was a stranger — yet without hesitation they cast the net on the right side of the boat. It wasn’t until after the great catch ‘the disciple Jesus loved’ (John) said, “It is the Lord.” (John 21:7)
Often in the world of Facebook during our posting we don’t really know who is reading, and we write as if Jesus ‘is not.’ The disciples were in the midst of their social network interactions. Their networking was on the boat during their daily work (fishing). When Christ appears they didn’t recognize Him. Often Christ comes in the midst of our work and we don’t recognize Him either. We must remember however, God through Christ is always present and even in the midst of our Facebook postings, our Tweets and Link-ups with each other.
After the great catch while fishing, John tells Peter in particular his thought, It is the Lord. Knowing Peter had denied Christ three times, John knew he would probably be the most glad to see Christ. Apparently Peter had repented and been forgiven because he is now back in communion with the disciples – in fact at this very moment, they were all following Peter’s leadership impulse to go fishing on this very fishing expedition.
Once Peter heard it’s the Lord, apparently not seeing Jesus as clearly as John, he took John’s word. Suddenly the boat couldn’t hold Peter anymore, and the great catch didn’t mean anything anymore. Peter cast himself into the water to instead become a catch for Jesus, so off he went swimming ashore.
Those who are humble, diligent and patient with strangers though they challenge us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and on other social media sites, in our work, in church, and may even create more work for us; it is those who are truly in Christ who immediately respond to strangers, and it is those whom, Christ “likes” “befriends” and “Links-in” and He immediately crowns them with success.
Further it is interesting, only John could tell the stranger was Christ. Why? I believe it is because John cleaved most closely to Christ. For instance, at the Last Supper John’s head was on Christ chest and at the cross only John stood by Mary, Christ’s mother, thus John recognized Him soonest. Peter the most zealous reached Christ on the shore first. The other faithful disciples continued their network on the boat, by ‘Towing the Net” full of fish ashore. It was these disciples who brought the great catch ashore, yet all of them “Joined the Social Network of Christ,” and all got to sit down together at breakfast with Christ.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo: Staff Illustration