Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Breakfast on the Beach

This is the sermon I preached on Sunday, 4/10/16 at St. Timothy Lutheran Church and St. Mark Lutheran Church--two very flexible congregations which I have the privilege of serving. The text is John 21:1-19.

Something that continues to puzzle scholars-- and the rest of us --is just how dense Jesus' disciples could really be. How is it that they never recognize Jesus in his post-resurrection appearances?  In today’s gospel, this is the THIRD encounter the disciples have had with Jesus since his resurrection—and they still did not realize it was Jesus talking to them.
Peter and the others who had left their nets to follow Jesus, have now returned to fishing, but without success. We don’t know if they were trying to go back to business as usual. Some scholars suggest that.
The men had been fishing all night with no results. Now Jesus comes along and tells them to fish on the right side of the boat. They were probably wondering, what difference does it make what side of the boat we fish on.We’ve been doing this all night! Suddenly, their nets were filled to the breaking point.
Now that the task has been completed, Jesus issues an invitation to breakfast on the beach...but not UNTIL the disciples acknowledged that it was the Lord directing them.
Have you ever noticed how much eating happens when Jesus is around? Throughout the gospels, Jesus not only eats with, but feeds people—and something exciting always happens—whether it’s teaching, feeding the multitudes or preparing his disciples for a future without him.
Jesus never did things in a small way. He was not stingy. He always provided more than what people needed to get by--whether it was healing the sick, feeding the hungry, or the giving of his very life for our salvation.
In the setting of having breakfast on the beach with Jesus, true to form interesting things happen. Jesus has the fire ready and has already started cooking breakfast. Jesus invites his disciples to participate along with him by contributing some of the fish they caught. In joining what they have to what Jesus provides, the disciples are brought back into the fellowship of those who not only see, but also believe.
The only one who had not denied Jesus was John. Everyone else needed to have their relationships with Jesus restored so they could be recommissioned to reach others with the good news of the gospel.
Jesus even spent some one on one time with Peter, who was still stinging with the shame of having denied his Lord three times. Three times Jesus asks Peter to confess his love for him and recommissions him to service.The three confessions in effect wipe away the three denials.
What does this mean for us today at St. Timothy & St. Mark? Our Christian lives follow much the same pattern as that of Jesus' first followers. At baptism, we are commissioned to let our light shine so that others may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. We fall short and lose sight of God’s calling for us. God picks us up, forgives us and recommissions us.
We may become discouraged after trying and trying to witness to others about Jesus. Like the disciples, we have to get back into the boat and follow Jesus’ directions and calling. Following the call of Jesus means putting our nets back into the water even when we have previously had no success.
Jesus not only calls us to try again, but invites us to share what we have with others and gives us meaningful work to do.
We don’t have to be great evangelistic powerhouses. Our lights may be small, but together with the light of Christ, there is more than enough light to dispel the deepest darkness of this world. We show others who Jesus is by letting him live his life through us and we invite people who we meet to share a meal with us.
Jesus showed himself to his disciples by abundantly providing for their needs. In the case of the disciples, it was successful fishing followed by Jesus feeding them.
How can we reach out and feed those in our world? One thing God is calling us all to do is to share the love of Jesus with everyone.When someone shares a need or concern, tell them you’ll be praying for them--and then do it!
We all have gifts that God has blessed us with so that we can be a blessing to others. For the grieving, provide comfort and a listening ear. For those lacking mobility, provide a ride or go shopping for them. For the hungry, contribute food for the community food pantry and maybe even work there. Wherever we see a need, God is pointing the way for us to get involved!
In the early church, “eating together was an occasion for experiencing the presence of Christ” (Fred B. Craddock). The communal aspect of faith strengthened them--and It strengthens us.
We are fed wth the bread and wine of the Eucharist and we are fed as we eat and drink together at fellowship after the service.
Jesus reveals himself to us, nourishes us by Word and sacrament and equips us to be God’s hands and feet. We just have to listen when he points out which side of the boat to fish from.
Amen.

Resources
David Lose, workingpreacher.org
Brian   Brian Stoffregen, Exegetical Notes at crossmarks.com
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