Continuing with our story of Jesus fixing breakfast on the shore for the disciples who have been fishing, we come to the well-known talk that Jesus has with Simon (John 21:15-19). Three times Jesus asks Simon, "Do you love me?" Three times Simon Peter answers, "Yes, Lord." Jesus instructs him to "feed my sheep."
Aside from the fact that these three questions parallel the triple denial of Jesus by Peter, what else might they signify? To me they show that although Peter failed Jesus miserably in his hour of need, God's call on Peter's life still remains. Peter's failure did not negate the call of God on his life. God has not given up on Peter.
Jesus then says to Peter here at the end of the gospel the same thing he said at the beginning, "Follow me." But now Peter knows what "follow me" entails - persecution, being an outcast, danger, trials and death.
Peter had already passed one small test since his denial and Jesus' resurrection: he fished on the other side of the boat when Jesus told him to. Now Jesus gives him a much bigger task: follow me and feed my sheep.
For reflection: My failure does not negate the call of God on my life.
Let us pray. Lord, I may not always be successful, but I want to be faithful. Don't let my failures keep me from trying to what you call me to do.
It is not Peter who recognizes Jesus. It is John. But it is Peter who jumps into the water to get to Jesus faster. By my count this is the fourth time Peter has seen Jesus since the resurrection. Once, Jesus appears to Peter when he is alone (Luke 24:34), then twice Jesus appears to him with other disciples when they are behind locked doors (Luke 24:36-43 and John 20:26-31). Still Peter is eager to see him again.
Jesus is cooking breakfast onshore. He has brought fish and bread which is reminiscent of the feeding of the large crowd beside this same body of water (John 6:1-13) with the five loaves and two fish provided by a boy. Jesus adds to the fire some of the freshly caught fish. Again in this account (John 21:1-14) it seems that Jesus looks different ("None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord.") As with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, they recognize him in the preparation of the food.
No doubt the disciples shared many meals with Jesus over the years and they recognized something distinctive in the way Jesus blessed and shared the food.
I think we may miss in this story that there is a multiplication of the fish that were caught (153 large fish) just as there was a multiplication of the fish and the bread in John 6. Jesus has revealed himself to the disciples not only in the blessing and sharing of the food but also in the multiplication of it to begin with.
For reflection: Do I recognize God's provision in the food that I have? Do I ask him to multiply it for those who are hungry?
Let us pray. Jesus, you multiplied the fish and the bread to feed not just a few but thousands. Show us how to multiply food today so that no one goes hungry.
I guess they got tired of staying in a locked house. How long can people stay inside even if they are afraid? Fishermen are used to being outside, working, in the wee hours of the morning. In John 21, Peter decides to go fishing and 6 of the other disciples join him. These experienced fishermen had a frustrating time - they caught nothing.
They were not far from shore when a man calls out to them across the water (verse 5), "Haven't you caught anything?" Hearing the answer he expected, he instructs them, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." Imagine the reaction of seasoned fishermen to that idea. "Who does this guy think he is?" "Oh sure, the fish are on the other side of the boat." In my family, if you don't catch any fish the reason is "you didn't hold your mouth right" which is akin to "you were fishing on the wrong side of the boat."
Here was a man telling men, who made their living by fishing, how to fish. I'm amazed they tried it. I don't think I would have.
For reflection: Sometimes God gives us a simple thing to do. How receptive are we to doing it? Do we have a teachable spirit?
Let us pray. Jesus, I want to be faithful in the little things so that you can trust me with the bigger things.
A reader suggested the following song to go with yesterday's post. An excellent choice. Enjoy.
The "commercial" we spoke of Friday in John 20:30-31 sounds like an ending to his gospel account of Jesus' life, death and resurrection. In fact, some commentators believe the next chapter with the story of Peter and the large catch of fish was added to the gospel by an editor, meaning that the gospel ended with 20:30-31. We'll look at chapter 21 later this week.
Today I want to consider again the statements that indicate the disciples do not always recognize Jesus in the post-resurrection appearances. I've often wondered why it is that Jesus doesn't look the same from one appearance to another. Why not? What is the point? It could be that not being able to recognize Jesus, to not "see" him, is an analogy for not having eyes of faith. Without the eyes of faith, one cannot "see" Jesus, one cannot recognize him as Lord. True enough. Then those who have not literally seen Jesus can be witnesses just as the original disciples are witnesses. As Jesus says in John 20:29, "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed."
But what if not recognizing him is literally true? What if Jesus looked different each time they saw him? Why would that be? The only answer that occurs to me is that it kept the disciples looking for Jesus in everyone they saw. If you didn't know what Jesus was going to look like the next time you saw him, you'd have to look for him in every face, in every action, in every person around you.
For reflection: How am I at recognizing Jesus in others?
Let us pray. Lord Jesus, Son of the Father, Victor of Calvary, Eternal One, open my eyes that I might see you, that I might see you in others, that I might see what you want me to see.
(As always, your comments are welcome.)
Like a commercial in the midst of your favorite TV show, today we come to a pause in John's stories of the resurrected Christ. Thomas has seen and touched and believed. In response Jesus said to Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29).
Here John inserts his commentary: "Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name" (John 20:30-31).
John wrote his account of Jesus' life so that we, who have not seen Jesus, who have not witnessed his miracles, who have not touched his wounds, might believe, and in believing gain eternal life.
For reflection: Jesus said to Thomas, "Stop doubting and believe." What is my answer? Knowing what befell Jesus and what would happen to his disciples because of this belief, where do I stand?
With Thomas, let us pray: My Lord and my God!
When Jesus appeared to the disciples, showed them his wounds, and ate fish as proof that he was alive, somehow Thomas was not with them. Despite the eyewitness accounts of the others, Thomas was not convinced that Jesus had risen. "Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it," Thomas exclaimed (John 20:25).
Fast forward a week. All of the disciples had locked themselves into the same house as before, but this time Thomas is present. Jesus once again materializes before them and says, "Peace be with you!" Jesus knows what Thomas has said about touching him, so he urges Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe."
For reflection: Watch this video from tale2tell (under 7 minutes)
As we continue to examine the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection, we see Jesus confirms the story of the two travelers by appearing to the whole group of disciples in Jerusalem while they are still talking about these mysterious happenings. Jesus simply appears among them (Luke 24:36; John 20:19; Mark 16:14) even though they are in a locked room for fear of reprisals by other Jews.
Thinking they are seeing a ghost, they are both startled and frightened. Jesus tells them not to be afraid and shows them the wounds on his hands and his feet. "Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have" (Luke 24:39). In their amazement they still do not believe, so Jesus eats some broiled fish to prove to them that he is real.
For reflection: When have I locked myself away because of fear? What does/did it take to prove to me that Jesus is really risen from the dead?
Let us pray. Jesus, I want to put away my fear of others and my fear of you. I want to believe that you really rose from the dead and not care what others think of me because of that belief.
"When he (the stranger) was at table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him (Jesus), and he disappeared from their sight" (Luke 24:30-31).
I don't know why the travelers didn't recognize Jesus or why Jesus should keep them from recognizing him. Maybe it was because he wanted their full attention while he explained to them the prophecies pertaining to himself. But the travelers, filled with this information and excited by seeing for themselves that Jesus had indeed risen from the dead, ran the 7 miles back to Jerusalem to tell the 11 apostles that they had seen the Lord. What a tale they had to tell.
For reflection: Would I ever run 7 miles to tell someone something? Am I still excited about Jesus? Who have I told about Jesus?
Let us pray. Jesus, I thank you that someone told me about you. Restore in me that first excitement of knowing you. Help me to find the right words to tell people about you and what you mean to me.
Two people are walking down the road. They are talking about the trial and death of Jesus and his reported resurrection from the dead. What an astounding thing! How could this be true? Should we believe those women? Has Jesus turned into a ghost?
A stranger joins them. "What are you talking about?" he asks. They proceed to tell him about Jesus, who was a prophet, who was killed like all the other prophets, but who now is supposed to be alive. Surely he heard about this. The news is all over Jerusalem.
The stranger affirms that yes, he did hear about the trial and execution. Then he goes on to explain to them, Jesus' disciples, the prophecies from Moses onward that referred to Jesus and the events that have transpired.
In all this time, walking together, discussing and arguing, the two disciples did not recognize Jesus. Why not? In Mark 16:12, it says Jesus appeared in a different form. In Luke 24:16 it says, "they were kept from recognizing him."
For reflection: Jesus, when have you been with me and I have not recognized you?
Let us pray. Jesus, because of your love you reach out to me every day. Help me to see you in all the ways you approach me.
I started this website and blog on May 1, 2012. I am a Catholic who has been in ministry for many years. I first developed what I would call a close relationship with Jesus in the early 1970s. Ever since then I have been praying with people for healing and other needs. It is because I have seen so many of these prayers answered that I am so bold as to offer to pray for you individually through this website and phone line.