Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Little Something Extra...Third Sunday of Easter

Bread and Fish and Compassion 

Today's Gospel, John 21:1-19, offers many points to ponder. Below are just a few to consider throughout the week. 

1. Peter decides to go fishing. He seems to be looking for something normal. After all, his life was in an upheaval just then. The Man he had been following faithfully for three years was dead. Peter had denied Jesus just when He had needed him the most, and he probably wasn't sure where he stood in Jesus' eyes. Now Jesus was risen. He had already appeared to His disciples in peace and love, but Peter may still have been feeling guilty, embarrassed, and hesitant. He needed something comforting, something ordinary; he needed to fish. 

2. The disciples caught nothing even though they fished all night. They must have been disappointed and tired. 

3. There was a Man on the shore. The disciples in the boat did not recognize Him physically as Jesus. The Man asked, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They responded in the negative. He told them to let down their nets over the right side of the boat. The fishermen must have been exhausted and frustrated, but they obeyed. 

4. They caught so many fish that they could not even pull their net in! All of a sudden, it dawned on them. Did they remember a previous incident that was very much the same (see Luke 5:1-11)? John called out, “It is the Lord!” 

5. Peter's reaction was immediate and rather humorous. He tucked up his garment, jumped into the sea, and started swimming for shore. He was so anxious to reconnect with Jesus that he couldn't even wait for the boat to get back to shore. 

6. When they finally dragged the bulging nets to shore, the disciples discovered that they had caught 153 large fish. The Jews thought that there were 153 Gentile nations. The disciples were to be fishers of men, even those men who did not belong to the tribes of Israel. 

7. Jesus served bread and fish for breakfast. It was a simple gesture but one filled with love. 

8. Jesus asked Peter a very important question: “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Do you love Me more than you love the things I do for you? Do you love Me more than the other people in your life? 

9. Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love You.” Jesus responded, “Feed my lambs.” Take care of those left in your charge, Peter. Show your love for Me by spreading it to other people, by feeding them, physically as necessary but, even more importantly, spiritually. 

10. The dialogue between Peter and Jesus repeated twice more in almost the same words. Jesus asked Peter for his love. Peter responded by giving it, and Jesus gave Peter a task to do that the love between them might pass on to others. 

11. Peter was a little hurt when Jesus asked a third time if he loved Him. Peter replied, “Lord, You know everything; you know that I love You.” Yet it had to be that way. Peter had denied Jesus three times; he needed to proclaim his love three times, too. Jesus understood. His compassion for Peter was far greater than Peter's fear. 

12. The conversation between Peter and Jesus ended on a somewhat disturbing note, for Jesus suggested that Peter would die a martyr. Peter's death, however, would give glory to God, so Jesus told him, “Follow Me.” Do what I have done Peter. Give all to Me as I have given all to you. Follow Me. 

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