John 21:1-14 (Third Sunday of Easter—Series C)
Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield CT
April 14, 2013
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Our text is the Gospel Lesson recorded in John 21:
After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 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. 4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on 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 of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
It’s the post-Easter letdown season. Are you feeling it? The highpoint of the church year has come and gone. The special services are over. The extra flowers are fading away. Sad to say, but we more than likely won’t see attendance numbers that high like we did on Easter again until at least Christmas. (I hope you prove me wrong!) Most of what lies before us is plain, ordinary stuff, the usual routines and patterns of our lives both inside and outside of the church.
The disciples also experienced post-Easter letdown. They had experienced incredible things in their time with Jesus. There were holy moments and mountaintop experiences. The disciples witnessed Jesus’ healing the lame, the blind, and the deaf. They watched as He cast out demons, were present as He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee, ate of the multiplied loaves and fish. They were witnesses of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. They saw His hands and His feet, His pierced side and were overjoyed when they did so. They had received from Jesus, as we heard last Sunday, the authority to forgive the sins of those who repent and to withhold forgiveness from those who do not repent—the Office of the Keys.
But the Risen Jesus was not among them day in and day out as He was for the past 3 ½ years. Life for the disciples was reverting back to the simple patterns and unremarkable routines—post-Easter letdown, if you will. Peter the fisherman announced, “I’m going to fish.” It’s what he knew best, what he was good at. Six of the other disciples chimed in, “We are coming with you.” Back to their boats, to the nets, to the night on the Sea of Galilee looking for a catch. After all, life is lived in this world and not even their experiences with Jesus exempted them from living here in this life with its patterns and routines.
It’s not really different for us. We, too, are in the world with all the patterns and routines of life. “I’m going to work.” “I’m going to school.” “I’m going to get the car fixed.” “I’m going to mow the lawn.” “I’m going to play golf.” “I’m going to the store.” We wake, we eat, we sleep. We follow our schedules, collect paychecks, pay the bills, change diapers, raise kids, and take care of our homes and families. It’s life in this world that we live, and neither do our experiences with Jesus exempt us from living this life that the Lord has given to us.
How wondrous today in our Gospel text that, in the midst of life’s ordinariness, the resurrected Lord comes to the disciples. Notice that He makes Himself known to them not while they are praying, or having church, or reading the Bible, or doing anything particularly pious. He comes to them while they do what they normally do—while they are fishing, following their routine of life.
Jesus comes to the disciples in the midst of the ordinariness of it all to show again that He is really alive. “This is now the third time Jesus made Himself know to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.” In this resurrection appearance, Jesus makes Himself known through another miracle. “Children, do you not have any fish?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Throw the net to the right side of the boat and you will find some.” And when they did, the net was completely full with a multitude of fish. It is then that John, identified as the disciple whom Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” For John remembered that moment when Jesus called him and his brother James and Simon Peter to follow Jesus, after the Lord had given them a miraculous catch of fish. (Luke 5:1-11) So now the Lord Jesus provided 153 fish for these seven weary fisherman who had taken nothing in their nets all night long.
But that’s not all. The Risen Lord served as host for a breakfast meal. He Himself prepared a charcoal fire with fish on it, and bread to go with it. He invited the disciples to bring some of the fish He had provided for them and to throw them on the fire so that they might come and have breakfast together. Our Lord shows again His servant heart, even as the risen and glorified Son of God. He comes to the disciples in the midst of the ordinary and serves them with the regular things of life, demonstrating to them His gracious love and service.
How amazing it is to encounter the Risen Christ in the midst of the ordinary! It must have been so for the disciples, even as it is for you and me. The Risen Lord Jesus comes into the midst of our ordinariness. He comes into the routines of our waking and sleeping, working and playing. Our Risen Lord is with us in the middle of the everyday, the routine, and the uneventful. He is present with us through the witness of God the Holy Spirit.
In the Upper Room on the night of His betrayal and arrest Jesus promised, “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,even the Spirit of truth, . . . I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. . . . But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:16-17a, 18, 26) “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (John 16:7)
The Risen Christ is among us always through the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us and who dwells in us. Thus Jesus’ promise in Matthew 28 rings ever true, “I am with you always.” In the Book of Revelation we learn that God in Christ is always present with His people by the Holy Spirit, fully and completely present with His people, His Church. (Rev. 1:4; 3:1) St. Paul also reminds us of this fact when he calls our bodies a “temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God.” (1 Cor. 6:19) It is the Holy Spirit, then, who works in your life to bring Christ to you through the Word of God and the through the Sacraments of the Lord Jesus. And it doesn’t get much more ordinary than words, water, bread and wine. Yet, it is precisely through those routine, ordinary means where we encounter the Risen Christ through the Spirit’s work.
We meet the Risen Christ through the ordinariness of words. We use words every day. We can’t get along in life without them. They are all so common. Yet, it was God the Lord who chose to create saving faith in His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, sustain that faith, forgive our sins, rescue us from death and the devil, giving us eternal life through the Word of the Gospel. The Word of the Gospel is nothing less than the message of Jesus crucified and risen for our forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The Gospel is nothing less than the power of God for our salvation from sin, Satan, and death. It is the Holy Spirit who calls us by this Gospel, who brings Christ to us personally through the gift of saving faith so that we obtain forgiveness of sins, rescue from death and the devil, and eternal salvation.
We receive the Risen Christ through the ordinariness of water combined with the Word of the Gospel. That’s Baptism! In Holy Baptism, God the Holy Spirit brings the Risen Christ to us again along with the gift of faith, the forgiveness of sins, and eternal life. We read of Baptism, that God “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.” (Titus 3:5) So, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.” (Rom. 8:11)
We also experience the real presence of the Risen Christ who comes to us through the ordinariness of bread and wine. But with the Gospel Word, it is not mere bread and wine, but along with the bread and wine, the true Body and Blood of Christ are present for our eating and drinking. The Sacrament of the Altar brings us Christ truly present with His crucified and risen Body and Blood for us to eat and drink for the sustaining of our faith, for the forgiveness of our sins, and for our eternal life and salvation from death and the devil.
In all the moments in this ever so ordinary and routine life, the Risen Christ is present with us according to His grace. As we wake, work, eat, sleep, and follow our schedules day to day, the Lord Christ is with you through the Holy Spirit who dwells in you. You are indeed temples of the Holy Spirit and, as such, you continue to meet Christ as He comes to you when and where He promises to be—in His Gospel Word and Sacraments through the power and grace of God the Holy Spirit.
While you and I might be feeling the post-Easter letdown, don’t let it get you down. In the midst of the routines of life, in the middle of the ordinariness of water, words, bread and wine, we encounter the Risen Christ who comes to us through the presence of the Holy Spirit. So look from the sea of your everyday life to shores of the Gospel, of Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper and let the Risen Jesus serve you with real food—not charcoal grilled fish and bread, but the food of eternal life—Himself given to you in water, Word, bread and wine with forgiveness and life everlasting. And there’s no let down in that! Amen.