3rdSunday of Easter 2019
This is my favourite description of the appearance of Christ after his resurrection. Those of you who have been to the sea of Galilee or Tiberias, will know what it’s like. But even if you haven’t you must have some idea of what its like beside a lake. Now the lake in this case is called a ‘sea’, because it’s so large.
It’s interesting to think that the last time they saw each other it was in faraway Jerusalem and in terrible circumstances. But what were they doing back here? Back in their own land, back in the north? They were fishing? Do you sense the tone in Peter’s voice, when he says, “I’m going fishing” and the others, all seven of them say, “we’ll come too.” Peter, like the others, is devastated by what had happened in Jerusalem. Their hope that Jesus might be the messiah had been dashed to the ground, destroyed, it had all been a big mistake. They had believed in him, had left everything to follow him. He had been someone who had given them so much hope. But then Good Friday happened. And it all went so terribly terribly wrong.
“I’m going fishing” was a way of saying: I must do something to take my mind off what’s happened; I must do something otherwise I’m going to go crazy; I need to fill the emptiness I’m now feeling. The others, all seven of them, were only too happy to go with him. But they caught nothing that night. I don’t think they cared; it was better than sitting at home thinking about what had happened.
The sun was coming up, as Jesus stood upon the shore. Mornings, when the sun is shining, are beautiful. This particular morning was going to be more beautiful than any other. Notice who recognizes Jesus first: ‘the disciple Jesus loved.’ He told Peter “it is the Lord.” And Peter’s joy knew no bounds. He couldn’t wait like the rest to row into the shore. No, big hearted Peter, had to jump into the water. His heart burning within him: it was the Lord. What a transformation in mood: from darkness to light.
He would never again say “I’m going fishing”, and the others never again say, “we’ll come with you.” No, from now on, they will become fishers of men and women. Their despair had turned to hope, and that hope will never disappear. Can you imagine the joy they experienced as they all sat around that charcoal fire eating that breakfast, with the gentle breeze, the waves lapping, the sun shining, and now a fire burning in their hearts.