After Easter: Breakfast With Jesus

Heritage Presbyterian Church

3rd Sunday of Easter
May 1, 2022

Scriptures – John 21: 1-19

Today we continue examining the events that occurred following the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Easter morning.  The Gospel story for today will require a little imagination in order to clarify what happened when Jesus met the Apostles for breakfast on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. 

Three things occurred that I will ask you to examine with me.  First, let’s set the scene in a modern day.

Imagine that you have had a frustrating, miserable day of work in whatever job you may have.  Nothing went right.  Everyone tried really hard and did their tasks correctly, but nothing worked.  The frustration is further enhanced by the fact that everyone is tired at the end of their workday.  You come home, discouraged and depressed, and you are just NOT in a good mood at all.  You aren’t planning on taking it out on anyone at home – after all, they didn’t do anything wrong – but you are still a human being with ordinary emotions.  Right now, you are not at your best.

But when you walk in the door, you are first greeted by the most amazing smells!  It is a favorite dinner hot and waiting for you!  That savory, delicious, wonderful aroma is coming from the kitchen, and suddenly you aren’t quite so tired, not quite so discouraged, not quite so miserable as you were a few seconds ago.  To make this even better, your kitchen is filled with family who are all glad to see you.  “You’re finally home!  Now we can eat!” they exclaim as you take in the whole scene.  You rush to quickly wash your hands and hurry back to the kitchen where a relaxing, delicious, completely wonderful meal now occurs. 

Ever had that happen, folks?  We can all imagine how that would affect us, can’t we?  Because we’ve all had LOUSY days at work that affect how we think and act when we get home.  We are human, we are frail creatures, and despite being Christians, no one ever guaranteed us it would be sunshine and roses every day.  Sometimes it takes some effort.

So, my first request for your imagination is to picture coming home to the scene I just described.

How does it compare to what the Apostles experienced? 

First of all, did you know that in Biblical times, fishermen didn’t use poles and hooks and bait?  They tossed nets out into the water, let the nets trail behind their boat as the wind or current pushed them along, and then pulled the net into the boat after a few minutes.  They would empty whatever they caught in the bottom of the boat, and then cast the nets out again.  It was exhausting, filthy work, and the Apostles had been fishing this way all night without catching a single fish.

So, when they finally got to shore, they were wet, hungry, exhausted, and perhaps even cold.  And what was waiting for them?  Their risen Lord, Jesus Christ, sitting by a nice, warm fire with fish and bread for them to eat for breakfast.  (Let’s just forget about how Jesus came to have fish on the grill before the Apostles even got to shore…that couldn’t possibly have been a big problem for Jesus.)  What a nice thing for Jesus to do.  So, despite the Lord rising from the dead, leaving the tomb empty, and appearing to them two previous times, he is also their friend who spent time preparing to care for them.  This time, there were no parables, no miracles, no healing the sick or casting out demons or making the lame walk or the blind see.  This was just Jesus appearing in the “ordinariness” of simple, everyday life.  This was Jesus calling those Apostles into a sense of community, just like he did so many times…just like we do every time we gather, and especially when Communion is served like it is done today.

Imagine that scene, if you will.

Second, let’s picture a different scene.  Imagine being at a party or a business dinner with lots of the people you work with.  The boss is there and seems to be circulating and saying hello to everyone.  To an outsider, the scene seems to be an ordinary one with not much going on.  But even an outsider might get the sense that something is going to happen…not necessarily something dramatic…just something.  And after a while, the boss takes you aside for a private conversation.

Ever had that happen?  

When it does, you might have no clue at all as to what the boss is going to say.  Maybe it’s good news…maybe it’s not.  But whatever the situation, it’s just you and the boss – and there’s nowhere to hide.

What adds to this situation is what has recently occurred.  Perhaps you have no clue at all.  Will the boss be praising you, correcting you, giving you a raise, asking you for a special favor?  Perhaps you have no idea!  When this has happened to me, more times than not it involved a tough conversation that the boss needed to have with me because of something I had done that caused a problem I didn’t know about.  This was embarrassing and I knew it was tough for the boss to do this.  I also knew I had some work to do in order to make it right.  Apologizing was not enough…work needed to be done.

This is what happened when Peter and Jesus spoke together.  This would not have happened in front of the other Apostles.  All of them denied Jesus.  All of them fell short of standing bravely with their master.  All ran away, not just Peter.

But Peter was the one who boldly declared that he would stand with Jesus, no matter what happened.  And Peter was the one who heard the rooster crow and remembered Jesus’ prediction.

So, Peter probably knew what was coming.  He had to be ashamed of denying Jesus at the critical moment.  If shame had remained a powerful emotional force in Peter or the Apostles or any of the women of the early church, they might not have been able to spread the Gospel as effectively as they did.  

So, Jesus handled that conversation in a most unusual way.  Three times, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” and three times Peter answered that he did.  It is hardly a coincidence that Peter also denied Jesus three times…I’ll bet Peter noticed too.

But their conversation was designed by Jesus to restore Peter, not just to forgive him.  Peter had been the leader of the 12 Apostles, the one who always spoke up, even if he got it completely wrong at times.  Peter needed Jesus, but Jesus also needed Peter; Peter was needed to lead the new church, the organization we call today “Christianity.”  In church tradition, Peter is always identified as the first pope of the Christian church, even though that title was not official for many, many years.  Still, Peter cared for the lambs and the sheep of Jesus Christ, just as Jesus asked him to do on that day.

Finally, we have the Apostles themselves deciding to follow Peter and go fishing at the Sea of Galilee.  For this, let’s picture ourselves as much younger and waiting for a parent to get home.

We could waste some serious time just sitting on the couch and watching TV.  Today, we can waste even more serious time channel surfing, playing various games on our various devices, or doing both at the same time.  Serious time can be wasted seriously.  But if we are waiting for the boss to arrive so we can be told our next assignments, all this can occur…but not if you truly respect your boss.  If respect is in your heart, what would you be doing?  Wasting time is not your first answer.  You would stay effectively busy.  You would do whatever good work you could think of in order to fill your day with purpose and direction.  Perhaps you might even be mindful of those parables from Jesus that described being ready for when the master returned…like a thief in the night.  So, you would stay busy.

And how would a fisherman stay busy?  He would go fishing, of course.  And if he had at least three of his former fishing partners with him, that would be an excellent idea.  Lots of fishing, catching lots of fish to feed the people, sounds like a great plan!  That’s a good way to pass the time until the boss arrives.

Unfortunately, the Apostles almost missed Jesus’ appearance.  Can’t really blame them…after a whole night of not catching anything, they were tired and ready to go ashore and resume their waiting for the boss to show up.  They didn’t realize he was already there waiting for them.  When Peter suddenly realizes that “It is the Lord!” he must prepare to meet him.  So, Peter gets dressed and jumps into the water.

I have known preachers to build a whole sermon around this one seemingly impulsive act by Peter, but fisherman in those days didn’t wear much while they were fishing because their clothing would get nasty and very smelly from the hard work.  Peter needed to make himself presentable…so he got dressed and jumped in the water.  Hard for any of us to picture doing this ourselves, but perhaps when the Boss suddenly arrives, we might straighten our ties, smooth our hair, brush off our clothing, stand up and smile and look ready to go.  Same thing for those Apostolic fishermen.

Jesus is ready for them.  He feeds them, cares for them, loves them, even though he is the risen Christ as this point.

Jesus restores Peter and forgives him.

Jesus appears for the third time to his Apostles, securing himself in their hearts for all time.

Jesus waits for each of us too.  We may not be ready.  We may be lowly, smelly, dirty, or completely unprepared.

But the fire is warm and welcoming.  

The food is hot and fresh.  

And the Lord is smiling and waiting for us…just like always.