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Tag Archives: John 21:1-19

“Jesus Shows Up Anyway,” 3 Easter C, John 21:1-19

John 21:1-19

1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net to 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 there were so many fish. 7 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. 8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

There are a lot of distractions in this text from John. But that’s kind of the way John is. There’s always a whole bunch of things going on at the same time. It’s easy to get sidetracked from the main point because there are so many fun little details that surely mean something.

Why was Peter naked? Why did he feel a need to put “on” clothes before jumping into the sea?

If Jesus was already cooking fish, why did he ask the disciples to bring some of theirs?

Is there some hidden meaning to exactly 153 fish they caught?

There’s a whole lot more. And, although they can be fun to play with, and sometimes even meaningful, the downside is that we can end up spending so much time on those details that we lose the main point the author is trying to make.

Which is that this chapter was added to tie up some loose ends, and in this text, particularly with Peter. Other than a quick look into the empty tomb, the last time we heard from Peter in this gospel was his denial of Jesus during Jesus’ trial.

Peter wasn’t a very good disciple, really. He never understands, never accepts things. He always messes things up and makes things worse. Plus, he not only denied knowing Jesus, he didn’t believe Jesus was raised, and he abandoned his discipleship.

So we get to wrap up some loose ends with Peter, since he was one of the leaders of this new, emerging church.

In this text, Peter went back to his old life, fishing, perhaps thinking he can be of no real use anymore. Even if Jesus is raised from the dead, Peter surely won’t be needed. So he abandons his discipleship.

Yet Jesus shows up. After Peter’s denial, disbelief, and abandonment, Jesus shows up on the seashore. Rather than reprimand Peter or demand he shape up, Jesus helps him with his fishing. “Put your nets out on the other side of the boat,” he yells.

And the catch of fish is amazing. More than that, Jesus fixes breakfast for them. And then he gives Peter this magnificent opportunity to understand that he’s forgiven. Jesus asks him to express his love three times, the same number of times he denied knowing Jesus. And he asks Peter to feed his sheep three times. Peter not only is forgiven, but has a new purpose with Jesus.

But that’s still not all. Jesus shares that Peter will die giving glory to God. And if it all isn’t clear yet, Jesus finishes with Peter by inviting him to follow him.

That seems like a lot of trouble for Jesus to go through, but that’s really the point. We may have given up on God, on Jesus, on the church. But Jesus won’t give up on us. We may think we’re too far gone to be redeemed. We may have lost hope that we can be of use, but Jesus shows up in our lives anyway.

It’s as if Jesus understands that we’re trying our best, and our best isn’t good enough. He understands that no matter how much effort we put into being faithful disciples, we just can’t seem to get it right. And that’s when Jesus shows up on our shore.

When we don’t understand, when we’re confronted with the realization that we aren’t such great disciples after all, that’s when Jesus calls out to us.

Jesus knows that we deny him when we hoard our possessions. He knows that when we make discipleship about us we turn our backs on him. And that’s when he meets us in a meal: fish cooked on a charcoal fire, bread and wine served in worship.

Jesus has seen us tear others down. He’s watched as we say unkind things about others. He’s fully aware that we put our own comfort and our own priorities ahead of his. And that’s when he gives us a chance to say we love him.

We’re no better than Peter, who denied, disbelieved, and abandoned Jesus. Yet Jesus shows up, loves us, forgives us, and invites us again to follow.

Who among us has ever realized we’re not the greatest disciples? Jesus is calling you.

Who among us has felt utterly helpless, lost, and doesn’t know where to go? Jesus is showing up for you.

Who among us has been afraid to even think about how we might be failing? Jesus is inviting you to eat a meal with him.

Who among us has yet to take our discipleship seriously? Jesus is asking you to follow him.

There’s the details of John’s gospel, but then there’s the main point. Jesus, the Christ, shows up for you, forgives you, eats with you, and invites you. Jesus comes to you, because he loves you. And you are worth it.

 
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Posted by on April 12, 2016 in Sermon

 

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Non Christians, Please Keep Complaining About the Church!

John 21:1-19

Here’s where we pick up the story. Jesus has been raised from the dead, appeared to Mary Magdalene, appeared to the disciples in a locked room, appeared to the disciples again with Thomas there, and now he appears for the last time to them in John’s gospel.

I’m really thinking Peter just isn’t getting this. After hearing Mary tell how she saw Jesus, then after seeing Jesus himself twice—raised from the dead, mind you—now, at the beginning of this text, Peter wants to go fishing. Like this was a normal day. Like nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Some other disciples decide to tag along—again, as if everything was the same.

Then there’s Thomas, who made such a big deal out of seeing Jesus, touching the nail prints in his hands, then falling on his face and proclaiming, “My Lord and my God!”

Not to mention that at that time all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and sent out by Jesus on a mission of forgiveness. A new job. Now they’re just heading out fishing. Nothing like the first day of a new job taking a vacation day.

So Jesus stands on the beach while they’re out fishing, but they can’t tell who it is. Now several of these disciples are professional fishermen. Fishing is their life, their livelihood, their skill. But they aren’t catching a thing.

So this guy is standing there on the shore yelling at them. They don’t know it’s Jesus, they don’t recognize him at all. But whoever it is, is giving them fishing advice. Do you know how annoying that must have been?

I remember playing baseball and going several at bats without a hit. Frustrated, I began goofing around with the bat. In the on-deck circle I’m swinging left-handed, changing my grip, anything to kind of break out this slump. I heard one of the moms from the other team—who I’d never seen before—say rather loudly, “Look at the way that kid’s swinging the bat. No wonder he can’t get a hit! Why don’t you hold the bat right, kid!” That was frustrating. I can’t remember what happened, but I most certainly did not appreciate her so-called advice.

I wonder if the disciples felt the same way. Some guy on the beach telling these professionals their nets are on the wrong side of the boat. The last thing they’re wanting to do is listen to advice from someone on the shore.

But these fishermen/disciples did hear. They did listen. They did what the stranger suggested—tossing their nets out of the other side of the boat. I don’t understand why, but they did. And they caught a huge load of fish. If they had known it was Jesus, sure they would have done what he said. But they didn’t know it was him. Just some stranger who, as likely as not, had no business telling them what to do.

Only later did they recognize this stranger as Jesus. Then once they knew it was Jesus they shared a meal; and Peter was given the chance to redeem his previous denial of Jesus. Earlier, while Jesus was on trial, Peter had publicly denied that he knew him three times. Now he publicly affirms his love for Jesus three times.

But for some reason they heard the voice of Jesus in this perceived stranger—enough to follow. They put aside their pride and life-long experience, recognizing that what they were doing wasn’t working, and did what he suggested. Maybe they get this resurrection thing better than I give them credit for.

Here’s where I think this gospel text is hard to hear. This is where these disciples leave me behind. Lots of us, including me, have been Christian for a long time—even Lutheran for a long time. Some of us have never known anything else. We believe we’re pretty good at this Jesus thing, this faith thing, this discipleship thing. So for many of us, it’s easy to disregard the voices of those on the shore, who have left the church or never been part of it. Those who find the church irrelevant, out of touch, judgmental. It’s hard to hear the voice of Jesus in those critiques because, after all, we know Christianity better than they do.

When people outside the church say things like, “I have no problem with Jesus but no use for the church,” it’s easy for us to brush it off as ignorance. When they tell us that they don’t feel welcomed, that we’re out of touch, that when they look at Christians they see no difference from any other person (except more hypocrisy), we just casually disregard it because they just don’t know. They can’t know. We’ve been in the church a lot longer. We are the professionals; they’re just yelling advice from the shore.

But here’s what gives me hope. They keep yelling advice. I can’t help but wonder that if Jesus wasn’t speaking through them, they wouldn’t be yelling at us at all. If it wasn’t Jesus coming to us they would simply ignore us and let us go on our way fishing from the wrong side of the boat. Why should they care?

I wonder if we heard the voices from outside the church, if we listened for the voice of Jesus might be there, we might end up sitting down with Jesus and having a meal with them. We might recognize our new life in the resurrected Christ, and more live it more fully, following him more closely in the world. We might trust that the resurrected Jesus comes to us, even when we’re fishing. Even when we’re not listening. Even in our arrogance. Jesus comes. He’s speaking. Like it or not, he’s bringing life and hope and newness to the world. Even to us. Life is new, because Jesus is raised from the dead.

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2013 in Sermon

 

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