“Breakfast With Jesus”

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.

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. 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.resurrection-breakfast-sm2.jpg

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”

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. 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.
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.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 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. 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.

Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

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.”

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.”

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.
Very truly, I tell you, when you DP800295.jpgwere 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.”
(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)

After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

The Sea of Tiberius in today’s scripture is also known as Lake Geneserat, aka the Sea of Galilee. It’s a freshwater lake about 33 miles in circumference — 33 miles longs, a bit over 8 miles wide, right at 64 square miles, which is about the size of Washington D.C. I have never been there, nor anywhere in the Middle East, although it seems to me to be among the prettiest spots there, based on pictures I’ve seen.  In Jesus’ day, there were 10 cities scattered around the shores of the lake – if you were to go out into the middle of it in a boat, a tour guide could point out the locations while a sound system blasted “Put Your Hand in the Hand” in the background.  Much of the Holy Land, like most anyplace that is riddled with tourism, has approximations of where actual events occurred; after all, a lot changes in 2,000 years. But the lake is the lake. There’s an honesty about that that speaks to me. Somewhere along it’s shores, Jesus fixed breakfast on the beach.

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There IS a church there marking this scripture: the Church of the Primacy of Peter was built in 1933 over ruins of 2 chapels, one from the 5th century and one from the 4th. It’s an oddly shaped but beautifully charming, small, weathered gray stone chapel with a tile roof, right on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

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Inside is a reeeeally big rock that is supposedly the rock on which Jesus and the disciples had their post-Easter breakfast — the original breakfast bar. It wasn’t moved there; it belongs there. And whether it was THAT selfsame rock or another one similar to it, its authenticity and truth to the story is anchored.

 

Several things jumped out at me in this scripture that seemed relevant for our time together here this morning.

First, an observation: this amazing, incredible thing of Jesus’ resurrection has happened. And he has appeared to them since then, several times – even Thomas has seen and believes. Sooooo, what are they DOING with that? How are they using this incredible event to spread the Good News? What are they doing?

Fishing. They’ve gone fishing. It’s what they do ! Peter started it – ever the disciple who speaks when silence would be better, jumps to the defense when the time has past, denies Christ when the going gets really tough, and doesn’t know what to do with the empty tomb. Well, he IS a fisherman from way back. It’s what he DOES and has always done! It’s what he knows! So, hey guys, I’m going fishing – wanna come? They don’t know what else to do, so they’ve gone fishing. An attempt at normalcy. Who of us hasn’t done that same thing after a life changing event? Particularly the death of a loved one, a dear friend. At some point, you revert back to old ways. Whether or not they fit anymore may depend on a lot of things, but I don’t think it’s fair to give Peter too hard a time about reverting to what he knows is familiar ground, or familiar waters.

So, they’re out there on the water all night without catching a thing. Probably they dozed some, for sure they would have talked, don’t you think? Maybe drunk some wine, maybe eaten something. Just speculation. But it’s been a long, unfishfilled night.

Then a voice breaks in, a man on the shore, yelling to them try throwing the net on the other side of the boat, which of course, once they do, becomes full of fish. The Disciple whom Jesus loved (John) recognizes that it’s Jesus, (AND HERE’S THE SECOND THING) which causes Peter — who was NAKED – to put on his clothes and then jump in.   – OK wait. So, why is he fishing naked ? Well maybe he’s stripped of his out cloak because of its bulk – I’ve heard that fishing naked wasn’t unusual in biblical times, so maybe so. But regardless, why throw on all your clothes and THEN jump in? He’s excited it’s Jesus, and he’s always bolting off in the wrong direction….. or maybe he’s excited it’s Jesus but doesn’t want to appear naked in front of him, or vulnerable, — is he ashamed, like Adam who was found naked by the Lord in the garden? Or is that reading too much into the text?

THIRD:   Jesus already has a fire going and fish on it. He’s already there and ready. Just like always. The scripture even says it was a charcoal fire (you’d think it would be a driftwood  fire, wouldn’t you, there on the shore of a lake?) I think the only other place a charcoal fire is mentioned is the night Peter denied Jesus three times — they were huddled against the cold around a charcoal fire.  That can’t be a coincidence.

FOURTH: And about the 153 fish they caught with them… seriously? 153? Why 153? Again, possibly as an indicator of God’s abundance, or possibly it is symbolic of God’s abundance in a different way – some folks far more learned than I say  there were 153 known types of fish in the day. So, the catch represented EVERYONE.   God’s grace and abundance; everyone for breakfast, breakfast for everyone. There’s a space for everyone and enough for everyone.

All of this leads into what is one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible to me, this 3.jpgquestioning of Peter. Three times – Peter, do you love me? And of course Peter’s recent denial has to be weighing heavily on him. How painful to be queried at all, let alone three times. You can feel him squirm.

Gotta hurt. But he’s actually reinstating him, whether Peter realizes it or not.

Because it’s all about belonging.

Feeding the sheep.

Maybe the disciples thought it was all over, in spite of having seen Jesus after his death. Maybe they WERE trying to return to business as usual, because there wasn’t anyone there to tell them what else to do. But then suddenly Jesus IS there, and once again, he calls them, not to abandon their nets and follow him, but to cast the nets where he shows them, and THEN follow him.

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We are told God goes before us and behind us and beside and around us and through us – Jesus shows this. He’s already on the beach with a fire made and breakfast waiting. He provides more fish, a more-ness that is indicative of God’s grace that is enough for everyone and sufficient to every need.   And Peter, who did in fact deny him 3 times, is asked 3 times to affirm him, AND tasked with the job of shepherding, rather than fishing.

There IS a new plan. Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.

Maybe Jesus is referring to Peter’s trademark impetuousness with the remark about “when you were younger you used to fasten your own belt and go wherever you wanted to go…” Like all of us – we’re eager to follow Jesus as long as it’s easy and we’re young and strong and can kind of follow him on our own terms…but following Jesus is not for the faint of heart and can get you crucified. It is a different calling to follow for the long haul.

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I had the opportunity to talk with several of you this week – really talk, the kind of conversations that go a little deeper than just the casual getting-to-know-you chit chat, and I’ve been thinking how much this scripture applies to all of you in this congregation. You’ve been following Jesus’ lead for a long time. You’ve been feeding and tending the sheep and lambs, and you still are.   Don’t ever feel useless, or like there’s nothing left for you. You do an excellent job of caring for each other – as Ram Dass says, we are ALL just walking each other home, after all.  We’re reaching out, trying to connect with others who aren’t here yet, and that’s fine,

Like here. We’re feeding the sheep. We are the sheep. Walking each other home….

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