Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
It Is the Lord - April 14, 2013 - Third Sunday of Easter - Text: John 21:1-14 (15-19)
I will confess, sometimes I am a bit dense. I am not the type of person you can hint around at and expect me to “get it.” Sometimes you have to be direct and simply tell me. I think you might understand what I mean, it has happened to all of us, at some time or another, someone says something, expecting us to understand what they are saying and we just do not get it. Well, we are in good company. Jesus’ disciples were that way. Yet, we have an advantage over the disciples, because we are hearing the Word of God some two thousand years after it all happened, so we are getting the whole story all at once, we should “get it.” For the disciples, they were living the story, each day getting bits and pieces, so they did not always get it. They did not always understand what Jesus was saying. Remember, Jesus told His disciples before He died that He would see them again (Matt. 26:32).
For us, it has been two weeks since we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. For the disciples it had been a little more than a week since Jesus’ first appearance to them. Now, at this time, after His resurrection and before His ascension, Jesus was not with the disciples every day to physically guide and lead them. And, this is before Pentecost and the giving of the Holy Spirit, so they were not yet organized, nor did they yet understand what they were supposed to do now. In His state of humiliation, Jesus did not always nor fully use His divine attributes. Now, in His exalted state He did use His divine attributes to their fullest. Have you noticed? Before His death and resurrection Jesus walked or rode everywhere. Now that He has risen He simply appears here and then appears over there. He is not bound by physical time and space. Thus, the disciples only saw Him from time to time as He made Himself and His physical resurrection known as a public fact to many people.
So what is a disciple to do? For Peter and the other disciples, namely Thomas (Doubting Thomas whom we talked about last week), Nathanael (the one about whom Jesus said, “is a true Israelite”), James and John (the sons of Zebedee) and two other unnamed disciples, they went back to Galilee and went fishing. They went back to what they knew. After all, they were now out of work and needed to make a living. They decided to go back to their old trade of fishing. Unfortunately they fished all night and caught nothing.
Early in the morning, John writes, Jesus stood on the shore and called out to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” Actually, Jesus calls out in the negative, He literally says, “You haven’t anything to eat, have you.” He knows they have not caught any fish. Jesus calls out to them and yet, they did not recognize Him. Perhaps they do not recognize Him because it was dark. Perhaps it was because of the distance, they were some hundred yards from the shore. Or perhaps it was because He did not reveal Himself to them immediately.
Jesus then instructions them in catching fish. He tells them to “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” Concerning this lack of catching fish, the commentator Paul Kretzmann writes, “Note: In any calling, trade, occupation, or profession the blessing must be given by the Lord; without Him the most assiduous efforts and apparent success are without value.” His words reminds us that in all our works we will want to begin with the Lord and His blessings. As Christians we understand that the work we do to “make a living,” is not just work, but is to be done as our service to the Lord, in other words, we are to work in whatever our occupation or station in life as if we are working for the Lord. If you are not currently working with that mind set, try it and see how it changes your attitude for work. We see the truth in what Kretzmann says as all night the disciples fished with no catch, yet when Jesus blesses their work they catch 153 fish and the nets do not break. Not only did Jesus bless their catch of fish, He also blessed their equipment.
Jesus had arisen and now He continues to show Himself to be alive and that He is the same person who had died on the cross. Even more, He now uses His divine attributes to their fullest and shows His authority over all creation. There are times that we may have doubts about the Easter story, about Jesus death and certainly about His resurrection. How can we be sure? How can we know for certain? And that is why Jesus showed Himself time and again after His resurrection. That is why Jesus did even more signs and wonders, so that we might know for certain that we worship, not a dead God, but a risen Lord and Savior.
In our text, John tells us that, the disciple whom Jesus loved, in other words, John himself, immediately recognizes Jesus. I wonder if maybe John is reminded by this event of what happened when Jesus called them to be disciples and they had their first great catch of fish. Anyway, John recognizes Jesus and he tells Peter who is standing next to Him, “It is the Lord!” Truer words and more exciting words could never be spoken. It is the Lord. Jesus is Lord, Lord over all. Lord of all creation and able to give a great catch of fish. Lord over sin, death and the power of the devil. Lord of these confused disciples.
John tells Peter, “It is the Lord,” and Peter, Mr. Impulsive, Mr. Spontaneity, puts on his outer garment (which he had taken off to fish) and jumps in the water to go to shore to see Jesus. Peter had already seen Jesus two times before (as John says in verse fourteen, “This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.”) and at this time, as with the two previous times, his denial of Jesus is sure to be still hanging over his head and we will get to that in a minute.
Anyway, John tells us that the other disciples brought in the fish and there they see that Jesus has a fire burning with fish on it and some bread. And nowhere are we told that this fish and bread came from anyone except Jesus. Notice then, Jesus is the supplier, He supplies them with all their needs. He supplies them with their physical needs, as He does so for us. One thing you might notice here is that there is no blessing given before the disciples eat. There does not need to be a blessing. Jesus is there in His exalted state, giving these gifts, what more need of blessing is there?
John goes on to relate the account of Jesus conversation with Peter following breakfast. Jesus calls Peter aside and asks him, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Jesus’ question is rather loaded because His question is referring to the time the disciples were discussing who was the greatest. Also, the word love Jesus speaks is the agape or self-less concern love. Peter’s response, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Note here that Peter’s response is not that He agapes Jesus, but that he brotherly or phila loves Jesus and notice also that he does not touch the issue of “more than these.” A bit of humbling for Peter. Jesus response, “Feed my lambs.” In other words, take care of the least and weakest of people. But Jesus is not through, He asks a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Again Jesus speaks the agape love word but directs Peter’s answer only to Himself. Peter’s response, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” And again, Peter does not use the agape love, but the brotherly phila love word. And Jesus tells him, “Tend my sheep.” In other words, take care of all my people. Finally, a third time Jesus asks “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” This time Jesus asks Peter if he brotherly loves him to which Peter grievously responds, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Peter confesses Jesus omniscience and his complete faith and trust in Him to which Jesus responds once more “Feed my sheep.”
This morning we are confronted once again with the facts and the facts are that Jesus is truly alive. We do not worship a dead God, we worship a living God. We do not worship a powerless God, we worship a powerful God. And we worship a God who forgives us and renews us.
Out in the world we are confronted day after day with the lies of the devil. The devil would have us question God and His Word and the validity of His Word. The devil would have us believe that Jesus died and remained dead. The devil would have us believe that Jesus has no power. The devil would have us believe that our doubts will condemn us. The devil would have us believe anything but the truth.
And so, in order to combat the lies of the devil, we have the Word of God. God’s Word is the truth of the events and life of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We can believe the Word of God, because it is His Word, because He testifies to its truth, and because it is a Word with power, the power to give forgiveness of sins and to create and strengthen faith.
The Word which we heard two weeks ago. The Word which we heard last week. The Word which we hear this week and the word which we hear all during the season of Easter (and hopefully every Sunday) is that Jesus is alive. Yes, Jesus did live, suffer and die. He had to suffer and die in order to pay the price for our sins, the cost, the wage for our sins which is eternal spiritual death, yet He did not stay dead, but He rose from the dead and we know this is true because He showed Himself time and again to be alive. And because Jesus rose we know that we too will rise. Death and the grave have no power over us. This morning we are reminded once again that Jesus provides for us all that we need.
What is more is that as we hear Jesus reconcile Peter, even after his denial of Jesus, so we know that Jesus has reconciled us with Himself even though we daily sin much and are in need of forgiveness. He has forgiven us, He has reconciled us, He continually calls us back to a right relationship with Himself because of His great love for us.
We are imperfect sinful human beings. We deny Jesus as Peter did. We have our doubts, as Thomas did. And that is why we have today’s text. That is why we have God’s Word. When we are in doubt, we go to His Word. When we struggle we go to His Word. When we go to His Word He shows Himself to us so that we may, as Thomas, as Peter, as all the disciples, not doubt but believe. Remember, at Jesus’ ascension, as the disciples gathered, Matthew tells us, “And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted (Matthew 28:17 (ESV)). Even some of His disciples doubted. We are indeed in good company. But again, that is why we go to His Word, so that He may come to us through that word and show Himself to us so that we may be given faith and be given the reward which Christ earned for us, forgiveness of sins and eternal life. To Him be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.