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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | John 21:1–14           

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. 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. (NRSV)

Think about the last time you were scared. Really scared. Not horror movie scared, but “someone important to you is in trouble” scared or “life circumstances have turned inside out” scared or “you don’t know what to do next” scared.

Hopefully you can also summon a memory of someone you love, in the midst of that other experience, saying your name. Seeing you.

How did that feel? Good, right?

That’s how the disciples must have felt by the end of this story. They hadn’t yet gotten the hang of this post-resurrection life. The first two times Jesus appeared to them (in John’s telling of the story) they had been huddled in a room behind locked doors. How happy the others must have been to go with Peter when he announced, “I’m going fishing.” What a relief to do something familiar, to be out in the air and water that they knew so well, to perform tasks that their bodies understood without thinking. Despite that, their fear and doubt and uncertainty still lurked underneath; then, to top it off, they had a really crummy night and caught nothing.

When they saw the guy on the shore, they didn’t recognize him. The Beloved Disciple figured out who it was first, and when he told the always impetuous leader of the pack, Peter couldn’t get to him fast enough. The others finally realized who it was when Jesus fed them. That was something they’d seen before.

That’s the transformative power of Love. It shatters tombs and locked spaces. It stands with us in our fear and doubt and uncertainty. It feeds us. It jiggles our perception so that we see what’s right in front of us. Circumstances may not have changed, but we can recognize the Risen One in our midst. We feel different because we have had a glimpse, a sliver, of Resurrection Life.

Risen Jesus, who reveals and reveals and reveals Love to us, thank you. Help us to recognize you in at least some of the ways you meet and nourish us. May that experience strengthen us for the building of your kingdom. Amen.

Written by Susan Quaintance, Program Coordinator,
Center for Life and Learning

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