Journal Jn 21 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “Now Jesus did many other things in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
After this (see the end of the previous chapter) Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and revealed himself in this way: “Simon Peter, Thomas (called the twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples were together.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat…” John 20:30-31 and John 21:1-3
Observation: Let me get the scene correctly set up: The Cross happened. The Resurrection happened; on a personal level all the disciples saw, talked, had opportunity to touch and feel him; a ton of other people saw Jesus.
And shortly thereafter, maybe in an unknown frame of mind…they all went fishing. Am I missing something?
Analysis: I don’t get these guys, at least I am having a difficult time imagining what is going on. Maybe I don’t have an adequate sense of time.
In Chapter 20, the Record describes the meeting with Thomas. Jesus appears, walks up to Thomas and, “Hey, dude. Understand you are having a wee bit of problem aligning in belief with your compadres. Tell you what: put your hand in here; and your finger in the hole in my hand…”, and the rest of the story follows.
After a bit of time, we find 7 of the 11 disciples (including Peter) sitting around. If I read the story with some embellishment, it seems that Peter (who may have been moping around or at least acting bored), takes a deep breath and says, “I am going fishing.” The other guys say, “Me, too!!”
So, they go fishing, and don’t catch a lick. There’s this guy standing on the beach: “Throw your net over there,” They did, and fish galore in the net. This guy is recognized as Jesus and it is all “Happy, happy, joy, joy”, so much so Peter jumps off and swims for shore in excitement (leaving his mates to do all the work, but that is another story…)
What stands out for me is the see-saw of emotions recounted here. After all what has gone before for their recent history, there is a recountable let-down. Other pastors have told me about what they encounter on Sunday/Mondays after preaching at church. I have been like that after a conference, etc. The Seven recounted here appears to be having that “after-ministry” lull—“I gotta get out of this funk; let’s go fishing…”
And then, something else spiritually cool happens; I am all spiked up again.
Over the decades that I have been attempting to follow Christ, this pattern repeats itself over and over. Fair, if I want to settle for sizzle and then nothing. But I don’t. Man does not live by sizzle alone and can’t. Living on sizzle, the “gotta have” adrenal rush, makes for a shallow follower.
I have to learn to live in the plenty of the Holy Spirit and also learn to live in the desert—and stay steadfast to the vision of the Gospel in all of its beauty. It cannot be done by being alone.
Congregation, living together, encouraging one another day by day, calling, sharing hospitality (different from evangelistic hospitality, it is shared discipleship hospitality— “all things in common, caring for one another”).
Prayer: Father, deliver me from the concern of the Covid-19 mess. Give me, I pray, grace and mercy for those who are gripped, knowing that just a little while ago I was in the same grip and can still be suspicious.
Increase my desire for others in the local church. Bring those across my way who need to hear the Gospel and provide courage in us both to hear and to speak.
I pray for Oskar. Help him in his upside-down world. Praying for his health.
Revive our lands,