John’s Gospel

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is John 21. You can read it here, and you probably should to refresh your memory, It’s not a very popular story. It’s not popular, I think, because its sort of dull. And that’s what I find most interesting about it.

The disciples go fishing, that was their job after all. My hunch is they don’t quite know what else to do. They have seen the resurrected Jesus in quite dramatic ways, but honestly, what do you do after that?  They went back to work, to their old jobs. I suspect I might have wanted to do something routine and familiar too. Jesus finds them while they are out fishing. They haven’t caught anything and Jesus tells them to put their nets out again. ( does this story sound familiar? It’s supposed to).  Peter recognizes its Jesus and jumps into the water. The other bring in the overfilled fish nets.  Jesus makes a fire and cooks some fish. Then he says, “Come and have breakfast”.

I like the oddness of this story. Of all the things you might imagine the Risen Lord doing… cooking fish on the beach isn’t it.

Really, shouldn’t he be in Jerusalem  at the Temple or in Rome taking over from Caesar? Shouldn’t he be ending hunger and suffering by divine fiat? That’s what we might expect, That’s what we might do if we were Jesus.  But wait, those things sound suspiciously like the temptations the devil placed before him.

Jesus decides to cook for the disciples.  It looks like he meant all that servant talk.  Then in a conversation that restores Peter into relationship with Jesus, Jesus also tells Peter what he is supposed to be doing, “Feed my lambs” “Take care of my sheep”  “Feed my sheep”.   Take care of my people.  

No big plans to takeover Rome or Jerusalem. Simply take care of folks.  No bravado, no swagger, no power plays. Just cooking, eating, reconciliation.    To be sure Jesus has provided abundantly for the disciples, once again there is a really big boat load of fish. And once again Jesus is the Messiah who is not doing messiah “stuff”. 

The disciple’s life is not made up of grand gestures, dramatic events, powerful acts. The disciple’s life is made up of the hard work of fishing and cooking- caring for people intimately and personally.

Some of us do, of course, do big things. Peter certainly does. The New Testament interestingly and oddly doesn’t tell us much about the other disciples. Most of us, like most of them, serve the Lord in quiet ways. Fishing and cooking, the stuff of daily life matters. Jesus is present in the midst of hauling in the nets, cleaning the fish, lighting the fire, cooking a meal. None of it too small for Jesus to attend to.

So I like this story of the Risen Christ doing very ordinary things. It reminds me that the ordinary matters. I don’t get to ignore the small things because I’m busy with big plans. I don’t get to ignore the small things even if I don’t have any big plans. God works with all of it and with all of us. Friends, this too, is good news.

I’d like to know what do you think?

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