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The Burden of Proof

May 06, 2022

Faith Leads to Worship

The Burden of Proof

By Ellen Ceely

“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, do you have any fish?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.”
(John 21:4–8)

This story always makes me smile. Peter is so eager to please Jesus and so excited to see him that he throws on his clothes, jumps into the sea, and swims to shore! Meanwhile, I can just imagine the rest of the disciples as they struggle to drag their overflowing net of fish, grumbling under their breath about how nice it would’ve been if Peter had chosen to lend a hand.

Then I remember John’s recounting of the resurrection because it involves Peter and “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:7). I can’t help but think that Peter might have wanted to beat John to shore because John had beat him to the tomb. Peter wanted time with Jesus, even if only a few minutes, without the presence of others. He wanted so badly to prove himself and his faith. The weight of guilt he carried from having denied Jesus might have made him over-eager to please and prove his love for Christ.

As much as I may laugh about Peter, his eagerness to prove his faith reminds me of all the times I try to prove myself to Jesus. Rather than resting in the knowledge of Christ’s grace and mercy, I aspire to be “the perfect Christian” and point at the things I do to show Jesus how much I love him. But Jesus doesn’t need me to prove anything about my faith to him. He knows my heart and everything I do, both good and bad. His death and resurrection is the most important message and the only thing that proves our faith (Hebrews 2:1–4).


Do you relate to Peter? Do you try to prove yourself to Jesus? Take a moment to ask yourself where this desire comes from. Is this healthy? Is it necessary? Is it biblical and required by God, or is it something you’ve required from yourself out of guilt, fear, or other emotion? Take another moment to remind yourself of God’s unending forgiveness and the gift of his grace. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Related Resource:

A Living Hope

Could you use some hope right now? Join Peter’s first audience—“elect exiles” undergoing persecution—and experience the apostle’s powerful call to follow Jesus in the midst of life’s challenges, knowing your Living Hope is not a distant one, but a daily, glorious, life-giving reality! This unique six-week small group Bible study, A Living Hope: A Study of 1 Peter, helps you uncover the priceless promises written specifically to the struggling and the hurting, with pastoral gentleness and bold confidence for the future. This study of 1 Peter will help you become utterly convinced that Jesus is the only sure, true, incorruptible, and permanent hope for you.

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