JESUS BARBECUES ON THE BEACH
JESUS, BROUGHT-UP IN THE CARPENTRY TRADE, TELLS PROFESSIONAL FISHERMEN HOW THEY COULD HAVE A BETTER CHANCE OF GETTING A DECENT CATCH.
John, chapter 21, verses 1 to 14 (J.B.Phillips translation)
Jesus showed himself again to his disciples on the shore of Lake Tiberias,
and he did it in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin),
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee
and two other disciples were together, when Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” “All right,” they replied, “we’ll go with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat
and during the night caught nothing at all.
But just as dawn began to break,
Jesus stood there on the beach,
although the disciples had no idea that it was Jesus.
“Have you caught anything, lads?” Jesus called out to them. “No,” they replied. “Throw the net on the right side of the boat,” said Jesus, “and you’ll have a catch.” So they threw out the net and found that they were now not strong enough to pull it in because it was so full of fish!
At this, the disciple that Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
Hearing this, Peter slipped on his clothes, for he had been naked,
and plunged into the sea.
The other disciples followed in the boat,
for they were only about a hundred yards from the shore,
dragging in the net full of fish.
When they had landed, they saw that a charcoal fire was burning,
with a fish placed on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring me some of the fish you’ve just caught.”
So Simon Peter got into the boat and hauled the net ashore full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three altogether. But in spite of the large number the net was not torn. Then Jesus said to them, “Come and have your breakfast.” None of the disciples dared to ask him who he was; they knew it was the Lord. Jesus went and took the bread and gave it to them and gave them all fish as well. This is already the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead.
“I’m going fishing”, was, I imagine, said in a tone of voice that displayed resignation
rather than enjoyment at the prospect. Fishing was something that Peter knew – and knew he could do well; much better than his failure at being a disciple. At least he could make a good job of THAT; and he and the rest went out, as much as for any other reason, to regain some normality after the shocking events of the last few days.
John uses the details of this story to show how the disciples were trying to work through what they were facing, not least of all Peter, after having denied knowing Jesus at all. To Peter, who swore constantly that he would be there for Jesus, through thick and thin, yet when it came to it, he wasn’t. John seems to use Peter’s nakedness in the boat to symbolize Peter’s embarrassment and diminishing lack of self-esteem.
Add to that, the singular failure of these fishermen, and especially Peter, that not a single fish was caught that night – so the emptiness of Peter's boat emphasises the emptiness in his life at that moment.
“Children” – shouts Jesus from the shore at dawn to the desolate crew.
I love the banter that Jesus has with them! "Children", an affectionate expression on Jesus’ part – most likely – “LADS”! "Lads, have you any fish?
(as in the J.B.Phillips Version)…..
or more to the point – “lads, you HAVEN’T any fish, have you!”
Jesus could have been so cross with them, so “let down”; but he still calls them in his own familiar way…just as He had Mary Magdalene beforehand.
Peter needed to have that most embarrassing of encounters before he was going to be able to be of any use to Jesus. “What is love, Peter, and who do you love most?”
God, penetrate those murky corners where we hide memories, and tendencies on which we do not care
to look, but which we will not yield freely to you, that you might purify and transmute them.
The persistent buried grudge, the half-acknowledged enmity which is still smouldering; the bitterness of that loss we have not turned into sacrifice,
the private comfort we cling to,
the secret fear of failure which saps our initiative and is really inverted pride; the pessimism which is an insult to your joy.
Lord, we bring all these to you,
and we review them
in your steadfast light.
Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941)
Living God, You appeared to your disciples in their hour of fear, and offered them your peace to still their hearts. May we open our arms to be living hope in the world today, bringing peace to those in living in fear. Give us courage to be bold in what we believe; may we hold firm to your promise of life and hope, and strive for a new world,
free from poverty, injustice and conflict.
Monthly Prayers, Christian Aid website.
When the disciples looked from afar at a breakfast of fish on the beach it was Easter
When Emmaus became synonymous with welcome,
and the breaking of bread with strangers it was Easter
When the hungry are fed at the table the same table as the rich it is Easter
When weapons are beaten to ploughshares and peace is a word to be shouted it is Easter
When the stranger is welcomed in community and the lonely are restored to relationship it is Easter day
Sometimes words are not enough to express the language of our hearts, sometimes minds are filled with prayers without expression.
Sometimes faith is not enough but in the presence of your peace, sometimes prayer can be a quiet conversation.
Sometimes words are not enough to express the anguish on our hearts, sometimes prayers are answered that remain unspoken.
John Birch - 2016