John 21: 1 – 19
10 April 2016
Looking again at the Easter/Resurrection happenings with faith and hope, can be a thrilling experience.
In today’s gospel there are three very powerful pictures of Jesus which need to be pondered on and abso0rbed by us because they have power to help transform our lives.
If I may give you some homework, then: – take on and spend 20 minutes looking and pondering, the next day take the 2nd picture and on the 3rd day the 3rd picture.
Here are eye-witness accounts of very ordinary happenings with supernatural overtones.
- The first is the stranger on the shore
- The second is Jesus inviting his disciples to have breakfast
- And the third is Our Lord dealing with Peter who had very recently denied him.
The stranger on the shore:
Here are seven disciples not quite sure what to do with themselves, waiting around for the unseen, resurrected Jesus to take the initiative and come to them.
Peter wants to do what most naturally is part of his life – he says, almost impulsively, “I’m going out to fish.” “We’ll go with you”, they said. So they got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No”, they answered. Then comes the command, the voice ringing out across the quiet waters, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some”. The unbelieving men could have said, “Forget it – we’re tired – we’ve been at it all night- who does this ‘Charlie’ think he is – Let’s go home”.
But it is the divine voice speaking – the very same voice who said, in Genesis 1:3, “Let here be Light,” and there was light! In Genesis 1:20 God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures” and verse 26 God said “Let us make man in our image in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea,” And it was so.
That voice! The voice which commanded water into wine, who revealed his glory and his disciples put their faith in him; the voice which said” I will destroy this temple and raise it again in three days”.
And to the Nobleman whose son was dying, “Unless you see miraculous signs and wonders, you will never believe – now go, your son will live”.
And to the invalid unable to walk for 38 years, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” and Later, “See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you,” And to the Jews, “My Father is always at his work to this very day and I too am working”
Pause to Reflect
The Divine voice commands: “Throw your net on the Right side of the boat and you will find some!”
When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John discerns who the stranger is, “It is the Lord”, and when the fish are counted on the beach there are 153 large ones.
When God speaks, commands, things happen, always.
We often come to Our Lord with our wants, needs, desires. He is the Lord; we are the servants, not the other way around. We can never see the big picture as Jesus does – We live by faith, not by sight. I am reminded of last Sunday’s gospel when Jesus addressing Thomas says, “Because you have seen me you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
That Voice! One day in the future that voice will command us to rise from the dust of the ground and to be reconstituted into our new Resurrection Bodies.
The last two lines of the Nicene Creed put it clearly, “We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.
Pause to Reflect
That is part one of your homework.
From the stranger on the shore we look briefly at the divine invitation to “come and have breakfast”. St John 21:9 ‘When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread’ (a braai/barbecue Nogal!) Our proactive Lord sees to the physical needs of his disciples serving them again as he had done in the washing of their feet. Another joyful reunion takes place, with one reservation: he didn’t look like Jesus, but they were sure he was. John 21:12 “none of the disciples dared ask him “who are you?” They knew it was the Lord’.
That for me, is a reminder that the Lord comes to us often, mostly hidden though, in the people we meet. That adds a dimension to the Christian fellowship others without faith are unaware of. Yet, for us, it affirms the importance of fellowship in the life of the Christian community.
“Come and have breakfast”, Come and have lunch”, “Come and have tea”, “Come this evening and have a meal”, always gives an opportunity of fellowship with the Lord, thinly veiled from our eyes. All this, though, must be balanced against another divine command: (Luke 14:12) “Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives or your rich neighbours, if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous”.
That’s part two of your homework.
Pause for reflection
And so, to the restoration of Peter, and maybe, even ourselves. I apologise if you’ve heard this before, but our pew bibles translation of this passage leaves out the subtle nuances of what really was said: What we have is: “When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”
“Alright then, feed my lambs”.
Again Jesus said;
“Simon, son of John, do you truly love me?”
“Yes Lord, you know that I love you”
“Then take care of my sheep”.
The third time he said to him;
“Simon, son of John do you love me?”
“Lord you know all things. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep”.
The Greek word for Love has many meanings covered by the word “love” in English. Here are the subtleties of this passage.
“Simon son of John, do you truly love me? (Agape: Sacrificial Love)
“Yes Lord, you know I am your friend (Phileo: Friendship)
Peter can’t bring himself to say he loves Jesus sacrificially because he has let him down so often and denied him three times!
“Simon, son of John do you truly love me?”
“Yes Lord, you know that I am your friend”
And then comes the arrow tot eh heart:
“Simon son of John, are you my friend?”
And Peter is hurt. He tells Jesus, “Lord, you know all things, you know that I am your friend.” Before Jesus stands the penitent disciple, sorry indeed for the three denials and Jesus reinstates him. “Take care of my sheep”. It’s a new beginning for Peter. He is re-instated as the Rock on which Jesus will build his church.
Now if that is true of Peter, how much more can it be true of us?
Try spend 20 minutes with this and answer Jesus;
“John, Sally, Mabel, Roy, Eric, Joan, Ann, do you TRULY love me? – Can you love me as sacrificially as I have loved you? Or are you merely my friend?”
Pause for reflection
In your time with the Lord, give your answer, and in turn, receive from Our Lord Jesus Christ himself the divine commission to do whatever he tells you, and be blessed in the doing of it.
Whose love will not let us go:
Restore in us the power of our calling
That we may boldly fulfill the tasks you set before us; through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Who with you and the Holy Spirit is
Worthy of blessing and honour, glory and power, for ever and ever.