Emily Bowen, a friend of mine from seminary recently made this comment on Facebook:
“Does anyone else find this sentence in scripture humorous? – ‘When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.’”
Now that I visualize it, it does seem funny. The disciples are in the boat when they see the newly risen Jesus on the shore. Peter stands up in the boat, puts his clothes on, then steps out of the boat and into the water.
That’s not how I go swimming.
Regardless of various theological interpretations, this would have gotten a laugh if it had been in front of an audience.
Earlier in the Gospel, Peter had dared to step out of the boat and walk on top of the water to meet Jesus, but not this time. From then on there was no more walking on the water. Everything would be harder.
But better, too.
Later, by the fire, he stood before Jesus and was given the opportunity to state his love for the Rabbi, but it was painful rather than the boastful declarations he had made in the upper room before the crucifixion. Showing this love would require commitment and action. Furthermore, Jesus told him that he would face times when he would be powerless rather than impressive.
There would be no more walking on the water.
And yet, as hard as everything would become, Peter was about to do his greatest work. He would become the preacher, healer, and leader he had been destined to be, a true hero of the faith.
Our greatest achievements come in the wake of humility, when we become willing to do the hard, unglamorous work.