Fact or Fiction

Mark Twain once wrote, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.”

There are several instances in John 21 where it becomes obvious truth was being communicated because the details are rather strange if they were fictional.  In other words, this story of the frustrating fishing expedition, the subsequent filling of the nets, and the reactions of the various individuals and groups bear all the earmarks of authenticity as opposed to fabrication.  This is significant since it shows that our faith is based on facts. This is truth we can build our lives on.

I find Peter’s reaction to John’s declaration, “It is the Lord!” after the large haul of fish appeared, to be somewhat comical.  Why did he gird up his clothes and cast himself into the sea?  Why didn’t he first help his fishing buddies bring in the nets and wait to greet Jesus when the boat was ashore?  His reaction to Jesus’ presence was instinctual and spontaneous, and a little irrational.  It appears to me he was so overcome by the reality of Jesus’ presence ashore that he abandoned a reasonable response and rushed to approach his Saviour.  This seems to be a very human reaction to an astonishing situation.

A second example is that John 21 recorded these specific details: the net was full of “large” fish, there were precisely 153 of them, and yet the net remained intact.  Most people would say, “Who cares?”  What most people would find important was that Jesus was on the shore cooking breakfast and inviting them to enjoy the fish and bread He had prepared.  However, the only kind of people who cared about these details would be…fishermen!  What was the primary occupation of Peter and all those listed in John 21:2?  Fishermen! Rather than these fishing details being irrelevant, they point to an eyewitness of this extraordinary encounter with the Lord.

Another instance of John 21 being a truthful account was Peter’s reaction when he saw John over his shoulder following behind during his conversation with Jesus.  Peter had just found out his future was apparently going to include martyrdom.  So, he wanted to know about John’s fate.  How human!  “If I’m going to suffer, will he as well?  I hope he’s not getting off without taking some shots too!”  Jesus told Peter to mind his own business and not compare with others.  But his question revealed a very human weakness we all share.

And lastly, John 21:23 recorded that “fake news” was around in the first century AD as it is today.  Jesus’ comment about John to Peter was misinterpreted by many in the Christian community to mean John would never die.  John himself had to correct the fake news with the truth.

In all these story details, we see that the “truth is stranger than fiction.”  This is another indication of the reliability of our Bible because it contains truths that are unlikely to be fabricated.  I look forward to sharing more about this amazing story about our Lord Jesus with you on Sunday!

Grace and peace,
Pastor Brad

Don’t Try This On Your Own

Have you seen the stunt shows that carefully remind people: DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME? Christianity comes with a similar warning: DON’T TRY THIS ON YOUR OWN.  I know even as I write that last line that our DIY nature is screaming in protest.  But the truth about being a Christian is that we cannot do it by ourselves.  As Robert Mulholland says in his book, Invitation to a Journey,self-reliance is deeply ingrained in us.  To allow someone else to control our life is seen as weakness, to be avoided at all costs.” (p. 20)

Stated another way: We need God’s power to live the Christian life.  We need God’s power to do God’s work.  For the most part, western Christianity seems ingloriously oblivious to the absence of the power of God.  We have become professional imitators (fakers) of the power of God.  It has become so common for churches to replicate a worked-up emotionalism that we are incapable of discerning a real encounter with God.  Words like “atmosphere,” “experience,” “amazing” are all dead give aways of the inverted strategy of the church.  It’s far too common to see the gap between our parking lot behavior and our sanctuary performance. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m an insider.  I love the church.  I believe we are seeking after the transcendent God.  We long for more because we need more.  We are built for more.  But we are tragically prone to imbibe imitations of the real thing.  We are thrill seekers by nature.  But that makes us susceptible to fakes and phonies.  We need power from on high. 

Knowing man’s tendency toward self-reliance and self-generated results, Jesus told His disciples to “stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).  He’s referring to His promise recorded in John 14.

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.  18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”  

The promised Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity who would come to inhabit every Christian giving them the dynamic power needed to live the Christian life.  Remember how Luke went on to describe this infusion of power in Acts 1:8: 

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 

“Wait,” Jesus said!  Don’t run ahead of God.  You need power to do what I’ve told you to do.  And if you wait for the promised Holy Spirit, you will be “clothed with power from on high.” 

I’d love to have you join me on Sunday at one of our two services (9AM or 11AM) when we will study this promise from Jesus to “cloth you with power from on high.”  I’m looking forward to showing you the evidences that you are clothed with the power of the Holy Spirit. 

Pastor Deric