That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea.” -John 21:7

Image is the Sea of Galilee

I was a junior in high school when my father suffered a cardiac arrest. He had been in the hospital for nearly a week, undergoing tests to determine the cause of the chest pains he had been experiencing. But the results came back negative for any heart-related issues and showed nothing else to be concerned about. So when the phone rang on that Sunday morning, we expected it to be my Dad, letting us know that he was ready to come home. Instead, it was a nurse who spoke the words that caused the look of sheer panic in my mother’s eyes: “Your husband has taken a turn for the worse. You’d better come as soon as possible.”

It had taken doctors several minutes to get my Dad’s heart started again, and he was in critical condition. But he was alive, and although we were told he was not out of the woods, we remained hopeful. We were also grateful that he had still been in the hospital (actually undergoing an exam before being discharged) when his heart stopped beating. Had my Dad been anywhere else, he almost certainly would not have survived. He was in the ICU for well over a week before being moved to the cardiac unit where the days stretched into weeks.

I came home from school one afternoon and as I climbed the 13 stairs to our back door, my sister opened it and yelled, “Dad’s home!” I ran as fast as my legs would carry me, up the remaining steps and through the door. Dropping my books on the table, I raced through the kitchen and dining room before setting my eyes on my beloved father, sitting in his favorite living room chair. All these years later, I can still recall the joy I felt in seeing him that day.

This is the image that comes to mind when I think of Peter’s reaction to hearing the news, “It is the Lord!” Leaving the other disciples in the boat, he jumps into the water and makes his way as fast as he can to meet Jesus on the shore. Who knows how much time had passed since Jesus had last appeared to the disciples? Perhaps they assumed they would never see Jesus again…at least, not in their lifetime. What joy must have filled Peter’s heart when his eyes beheld his beloved Lord once again!

When I read this story, I’m reminded of Jesus’s words earlier in John’s gospel when Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for what is to come: “So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (16:22). This promise holds true for us, too. One day we will see Jesus face-to-face. And whatever pain we have suffered in this life will be replaced with never-ending joy.

Loving God, thank you for the resurrection promise that sustains us in this life’s journey, and for the indescribable joy that awaits us in the life to come. Amen.