“Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord.’ So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.” (John 21:7-8)
Peter was unique among the disciples — he was impetuous and “threw himself into the sea” — whereas the others were more conventional in their response: :8 says “the other disciples came in the little boat.” They were coming — perhaps not as impulsively or as precipitously as Peter, but coming nonetheless.
Both types of disciples are still among us today: those who will “jump right in”, and those who come along eventually. It is important to remember that Jesus loves and uses both — and we should also.
This passage reminds us to be patient, and to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of both types of people:
— The “Peters” will jump right in — but sometimes TOO quickly; and sometimes in the wrong direction, as we see from Peter in Matthew 16 and elsewhere. These disciples need our patience and guidance. (And notice that although he reacted to Jesus quickly — he also forgot the fish!)
— The “others” may be a little more conventional — sometimes they may seem slow to respond — but as they are genuine followers, they will eventually come. They TOO need your patience and exhortation as they take their time to go in the right direction. (And notice that although they were slower to come, they were also more practical, and brought the fish! These disciples will bring some practical, good, things along with them when they finally come.)
It is interesting that BOTH types of disciples need patience — that’s the first fruit of LOVE, I Corinthians 13 tells us: “Love is patient.” What we need for ALL people — both of these types and others, more than anything else — is real love, and patience.
Lord fill us with the fruit of Your Spirit of love — for the “Peters”, for the “others”, and for ALL of Your people, that we may help them to use the particular qualities You have given them for Your glory!