Reading for this Sunday: John 21:1-14
They say that a bad day fishing is better than good day working.
I don’t know about that, I’m not much of a fisherman.
But the disciples were fishermen, and they had some pretty good days at work, in the last three years with Jesus. They had seen some pretty amazing things - walk on water, heal sick, cast out demons. the blind saw, the lame walked, the deaf could hear.
What's fishing, when the person you are following can take 2 fish and feed 5000?
They saw him raise Lazarus from the dead.
Yep, they had some pretty good days and work. Fishing just didn’t compare.
But they’ve had some bad days recently. We’re just weeks after Jesus’ death and crucifixion - those horrible 3 days when they thought all hope was lost. And then comes the resurrection, and Jesus appears to them, and says “My peace be with you. I send you as the Father has sent me.
That was a week after the resurrection, that evening when Thomas was there with the disciples. Now it is some time later. What have the disciples been doing?
If you have great news, who are you going to tell first?
That’s right, your family and friends.
They went home. They were in Jerusalem, and Jesus sends them just as the Father sent him - so they went back to where it all started, to Galilee.
They went home to tell their families and their friends, and their neighbors...and anyone who would listen the good news about Jesus.
I bet they got mixed reactions. Cause isn’t that happens when we talk about Jesus? Some people embrace it wholeheartedly and some people say, ‘oh don’t bother me with that stuff!”
And maybe they were starting to get a little discouraged.
That day was a bad day at work in the following Jesus business.
And Peter says, “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m going fishing.”
Going back to what they know.
Now I don’t know it that bumper sticker holds true if you are a professional fisherman - that a bad day fishing is better than a good day at work, because work is fishing.
Whatever, they had a bad night fishing. They caught nothing.
Then just after daybreak, when they are doing their last ditch effort to catch fish, because you know you get past the dawning of the day, the fishing only gets harder. They saw someone on the beach.
And he asked them “Hey lads, have you caught any fish today? Ya haven’t have ya? Try the other side of the boat”
And they did.
And when they saw the miracle of the full nets, they knew it was Jesus. The beloved disciple cries out with joy, “it is the lord!”
And Peter, he can’t wait. He’s stripped down out of his robe, because you can’t haul nets with a robe getting in the way. He throws on his robe - cause he sure can’t met the Lord half naked, can he?- , and jumps into the water and swims to shore. The rest follow with the boat.
And when they get there, they find that Jesus has anticipated their most pressing need of the moment.
They are hungry. They’ve been working hard, out fishing all night.
And he has breakfast for them, ready on the beach. Fish on the fire, bread warm on the stones ringing the fire.
So it’s interesting that Jesus says, “Bring some of that fish you just caught.
This is Jesus - who can take just a few fish and feed 5000 people. You know there’s enough fish there for seven disciples and himself.
It’s not just ‘oh I don’t have quite enough, bring some more.’
It’s an invitation. Here this is the work that I am doing right now: “I am feeding you. Join with me in this work. Bring your gifts- the fish that I have given you.”
It’s not just the work of their hands, but their blessings. Bring your blessings
so that we can all be blessed with this breakfast. He invites them in to share the work.
They went and got the fish - counted and sorted them - so they could bring some fish to Jesus. They discover that there are 153 fish!
Why 153 fish? No one has figured it out. But we do know that there were so many fish, that they were amazed that the net didn’t break. 153 fish - a full and abundant catch. A catch so big that the net should have broken, but it didn’t.
We hear these stories all through John. We hear of the wedding in Cana, Jesus’ first miracle, 6 jug of water turned to wine - somewhere between 120-180 gallons, more than enough for a wedding feast that was half over. it’s an abundance of God’s blessings to us, overflowing, running down.
Feeding 5000 people with 5 loaves and 2 fish, every one eating until satisfied, and still 12 baskets left over.
And this last miracle Jesus does has to do with food as well, with these fish and the abundance of this catch.
This is now the 3rd time Jesus appears to the disciples after he has raised from the dead. And there is more to this story - Jesus and Peter have a little private chat, which we’re going to hear about next week.
But today I want to focus on this amazing catch and breakfast with Jesus. and what it might mean for us? Because this is an encounter with Jesus for people who were empty.
The disciples were confused, and discouraged. Jesus had given them a mission - go as the Father has sent me - and they can’t figure out what that meant. Maybe they tried, maybe they are still trying to figure it out. So they went fishing. When the going got tough, they went back to what was familiar and comfortable - what they knew.
They can't figure it out without Jesus. They can’t even catch fish without Jesus telling them how to do it.
And how often are we like that, we don't know exactly what it is God is calling us to do, and we do our equivalent of I”m going fishing - we go back to what is normal and comfortable.
And there’s nothing wrong with that - sometimes you need some time to assimilate what’s going on. And the resurrection is huge news. The world has changed, and they are not sure what that means. Jesus, God, resurrection - it has changed them. They have to have some space to figure it out.
Jesus knows that, and he meets them there - in a garden, in the upper room, on the road, on a beach - and tells them again and again - My peace be with you. Now go, as I have been sent, so I send you. Preach the good news, care for the poor, and sick, love as I love you.
He sends them after filling their nets, filling their stomachs. And I think that an important part of the story too.
Just like that morning on the beach, Jesus prepares a meal for us. In the early church, bread and fish were early communion elements - breakfast on the beach, dinner on the shore of the lake - these were stories of communion as much as the meal in the upper room.
Every time we have communion, we have breakfast with Jesus. We are invited to become the body of Christ, to bring the gifts God has given us, to allow Jesus to bless them and use them and use us.
Jesus meets us where we are, feeds us, fills us with peace, and sends us as the Father has sent him.