God-Soaked World Bible Guide – Day 34
April 8, 2017
Saturday, April 8 – John 21:1-14
21 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 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. 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 after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 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. 7 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. 8 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.
9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish 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, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 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. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Points of Interest:
- Since we last left Jesus, dying on the cross, he has been buried in a tomb that days later is found empty by some of his apprentices and friends. Jesus has also appeared to some of them, offering them proof of his back-from-the-dead life and peace. But the encounters seem brief and maybe, from the perspective of Jesus’ friends, hard to believe.
- Since then, some of Jesus’ formerly-fishermen apprentices have also tried to move on with life. In Peter’s words, “I am going fishing,” we can hear a return to his old profession but also maybe a resignation that his days as travelling apprentice of Jesus may be gone for good as well.
- I read John’s words, “That night they caught nothing,” as similarly both literal and figurative. Peter and friends have a bad night of fruitless labor, probably not the first time they’ve pulled up empty nets, but discouraging nevertheless. But it’s also maybe an indication or a symbol of a broader and deeper emptiness.
- Jesus shows up on the shore with comically ridiculous advice. To a group of professional fishermen, he yells across the lake, “Hey fellas, throw your net on the other side of the boat!” It’s kind of a chump move… except that in this case, it works.
- I love that from a distance, the first way Peter recognizes Jesus isn’t by sight and isn’t by the sound of his voice. Instead, Peter recognizes Jesus in the surprisingly effective results of his words, in the abundance that comes when Jesus is around and when Jesus has something to say.
- So Peter is fishing in his underwear and then puts on clothes to jump into the water. Likely this sounds both creepy and weird to you, but it wouldn’t have to Peter and friends, I don’t think. The point here is Peter’s enthusiasm and joy, not his problem figuring out how to keep his clothing dry.
- Again, for someone writing on a papyrus scroll and short on space, the details are great here. Jesus lights a charcoal fire while waiting on the beach alone, someone takes the time to count the 153 fish hauled in the net, and Jesus tells his old apprentices, “Come and have breakfast.”
- Jesus takes bread and gives it to them and does the same with some freshly grilled fish. This is familiar language in John that evokes earlier scenes where Jesus passed out bread and fish, both to his students and to hungry crowds. Jesus always liked to eat with people and he assures his friends that he still does.
Prayer for our six – Pray that any of your six who are finding their work mundane or discouraging would experience wonder, surprise, and abundance in their work. As a bonus, if you like, pray that Jesus would give some of your six an experience that helps them believe that Jesus is alive and wants to eat with them.
Spiritual Exercise – This week our spiritual exercise will be a modified version of a spiritual practice called Immanuel Prayer. One of Jesus’ nicknames, or titles, is Immanuel – Hebrew for “God with us.” Immanuel prayer is a mode of praying in which we invite Jesus to help us perceive Jesus as with us in all things. Take a moment today to call to mind a meal – one you recently ate, or one you expect to eat today. Picture the food you are eating, the people you are with. Call this situation to mind for a moment, paying attention to whatever you notice or feel. Then thank Jesus for being present with you in each meal. Ask Jesus to help you to perceive where Jesus is and what he is saying to you. How does it feel that Jesus wants to eat with you?