In the name of the Father and of the † Son and of the Holy Spirit. AMEN.
Dear Friends in Christ,
History Is About Facts
History is about facts. It’s about specific people, places, things, and times. Witnesses are called into court to tell the facts so that the truth can be revealed to the judge and jury. The apostle John, who wrote the words of today’s gospel reading, wanted us to know the facts about Jesus and how he revealed himself after his resurrection.
Notice all the detail that John put into this account of Jesus appearing to his disciples. He tells us that the event happened at a specific real place, the Sea of Tiberias, also known as the Sea of Galilee.
John lists the names of specific disciples who were there even giving us additional information about Thomas called the twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and telling us that Zebedee was the father of two of them. John of course was one of Zebedee’s sons.
John tells us what side of the boat the disciples cast their net, that Peter put on an outer garment before going to Jesus, and that they caught exactly 153 fish. We read that Jesus was cooking on a charcoal fire and that he had fish and bread to feed the disciples.
John does not tell us about brave confident men but about men who were full of anxiety and nervous energy. They had seen Jesus in Jerusalem two times after his resurrection. They had been told by him to go to Galilee. What did it all mean and would they see him again?
John wants us to know the facts, the history, the truth of how Jesus continued to reveal himself to his disciples. It was not just that the tomb was empty. The tomb was empty because Jesus had risen from the dead. The angels said to the women, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He Is Risen!”
Jesus revealed himself to his disciples so that they could see and touch his body, hear his voice, and again see signs that showed that he was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus wanted them to believe and also wanted them to be witnesses that he was alive the conqueror of sin and death.
Full Of Uncertainty
What were the disciples thinking? They had seen the risen Jesus two times. They had left Jerusalem and returned to the region of Galilee, because Jesus had told them he would meet them there. I can imagine that they were uncertain about what would happen next.
It was close to two weeks after the resurrection for them as well. Peter said to the other disciples, “I’m going fishing.” It was something he knew how to do. He was a professional fisherman. Perhaps that would calm him done. The others decided to join him.
Their luck was not so good. We read in the lesson “that they fished all night and caught nothing.” It may not have mattered to them if the hard work of fishing took their minds off their uncertainty. I can imagine that in their minds they were asking, “What does this mean?”
It was very early in the morning and Jesus was standing on the shore. They did not recognize him. He called out to them, “do you have any fish?” The answer of course was “No.” “Cast your nets on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” Jesus said to them.
Perhaps the man on the shore could see a school of fish from his angle that they couldn’t see. Maybe the man on the shore had seen some other fishermen catching fish in that particular spot. For whatever the reason, the disciples cast their nets one more time. This time their nets were so full of fish that they couldn’t even haul them into the boat.
It was a miracle and John figured it out first. He said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Of course Peter thought, who else could have provided them such a great catch of fish. He jumped overboard and rushed to be with Jesus. When the others reached the shore Jesus invited them to come and eat with him. Bread and fish was on the menu.
Jesus provided his disciples with a great catch of fish. He provided a meal for them after a long night of fishing. What was going through their mind? Perhaps they were thinking about other events during the past three years.
There had been another time when Jesus had told them to put down their fishing nets and they caught so many fish that their nets began to break. There was the time when Jesus feed 5000 people with bread and fish.
There was the other time when Peter left the boat to be with Jesus. There were all those times when they had eaten meals with Jesus. There were all the other signs of his power that they had seen Jesus do.
Were things going to go back to the way they were before the resurrection? Perhaps that is why John tells us that the disciples saw Jesus and wondered “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord Jesus but they did not know what he would do next?
Would they again follow him from place to place watching him show mercy to those in need? Was he now like Lazarus who Jesus had raised from the dead or was there something different about his resurrection? Would the Jews come after Jesus again and this time would they arrest his disciples as well?
Things Are Different
Things would never be the same for the disciples after the resurrection. In the days to come, Jesus would teach his disciples about the crucifixion and the resurrection. He would prepare them to be witnesses. Jesus would prepare them to go into the world to show mercy and grace to those in need.
They would proclaim the forgiveness of sins as a gift from God the Father. They would tell the story of how God the Son came down from heaven to sacrifice himself so that all who die can have eternal life and all who life need never die.
The lives of the disciples were never the same after the resurrection and neither is yours. The life of Paul was never the same after he was baptized into the death and resurrection of the Lord and neither is yours.
Your life is different because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It may not always seem like it to you, but it is in the eyes of the Lord who made heaven and earth. You may still see your weakness when you are tempted. You may still see your reluctance to help others. You may still see your sins.
Regardless of what you see or how your feel, the reality is that your sins have been paid for by the blood of Christ. Your sins have been forgiven. Because Christ died for you, you are a new creature, you are being transformed day by day through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Perfect Believer?
In case you are worried that you are not the perfect believer; that at times with thoughts, words, and deeds have shown your lack of faith remember where it all started. Jesus Christ died for you so that your sins are forgiven. Remember that your faith is a gift and that God strengthens your faith through his Word and Sacraments.
Jesus took Peter and the other confused and bewildered disciples and made them fishers of men. He supplied all that they needed to carry out the calling that he gave them. Jesus took Paul, who had persecuted the church and used him as his instrument to carry his name forward.
Jesus has taken hold of you in your baptism and has promised to be with you in every circumstance of life. He has promised that through him you can see the needs of your neighbor and you can share your love with your neighbor.
When the disciples meet Jesus on the beach they wondered what life would be like with the resurrected Jesus. It became a life of daily repenting and trusting in God’s forgiveness. It became a life of sharing God’s love to others.
None of this happened because these men were such perfect believers. It happened because Jesus is the Lord who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. As we heard Jesus say last week, “Peace be with you.”
The resurrection of Jesus is more than history. It is more than facts. It is more than his appearance to witnesses who were real people. The resurrection of Jesus is good news for you. You do not need to wonder “Who are you?” about Jesus. He is the one who sacrificed his life for you. Through him you have life. His resurrection takes away your fear of temporal and eternal death.
The prophet Isaiah wrote that, “God will swallow up death forever” Is. 25:8 In the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ this prophecy has come true for you..
In the name of Jesus. Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria