Ps. 30 (vv. 11a, 12b); Acts 9:1-22; Rev. 5:1-14; John 21:1-19
Seven, [The seven Apostles] … saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So, Simon Peter … hauled the net ashore full of large fish, 153 of them … the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast” (vv. 9-12).
Seven Apostles are noteworthy in this resurrection encounter; five named, two unidentified, with the result that no specific Apostle is absent. Seven is the number of heaven’s completeness thereby associating the apostolic church representatives with their omnipotent and omniscient resurrected Lord.
At Jesus’ coronation, God’s co-regent in the new creation; the Father presented him the seven sealed scroll as “slain Lamb” possessing seven horns of power and seven eyes for all seeing sight, even the HS the seven spirits of God, for the church.
If the church while in the world is to navigate, she must remain in relation with her Lord; thus the 16th century German Reformation’s insistence on “Sola Scriptura”, the Word and only Light alone worthy to reveal himself its content.
We return to the Gospel’s seashore; while awaiting the Lord’s next appearance, Peter announced, “I am going fishing”, six of his brothers followed suit (Jn. 21:3). What are we to make of returning to their old occupation? On Easter Day and on 2nd Sunday of Easter, the Apostles were baptized, receiving the HS. Baptism ordains us to a new vocation in the new creation.
So, that we too, with heaven’s saints sing the church’s new song; lauding Jesus, the scroll’s arbiter, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God.” (Rev. 5:9, 10).
So, what do you think of this morning’s fishing trip? It seems that Peter and brothers had lost resurrection focus; giving us pause to ask after our baptismal focus. Apparently, the Apostles viewed Jesus’ Easter resurrection as a one-off event; rather than an on-going new reality. They thought of no better pastime than returning to their former occupation: seeking, curing, and mongering fish; Proverbs says, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit …” (Prov. 26:11; 2 Peter 2:22).
Peter and the brothers became discouraged in their new office of revealing the Substance of God’s scroll. True, the Apostles had received the HS and commission of binding and losing; but before Pentecost their efforts lacked vitality. Where, by the power of the Lamb’s crucifixion was the nascent church’s increase? It would remain for Pentecostal sending of the HS upon the church and Peter’s powerful witness, netting 3,000 penitent Jews and proselytes (Acts 2:41).
But in this morning’s Gospel, Peter and the others are impatient, returning to the mundane. Loss of focus, waning trust, and discouragement at the Lord’s lack of visible appearance (cf. Jn. 20:29) were putting the apostolic vocation at risk. Jesus prophesied after his Supper, “Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone” (Jn. 16:32).
On Easter morning Jesus cautioned Mary Magdalene not to cling to him in the old way, i.e., apart from his ascended presence (20:17, 18). Thomas’ faithlessness generated a 2nd appearance; and in today’s Gospel Jesus graciously appears a 3rd time to bolster and direct apostolic hearts for being God’s “sent ones” into the world with only the witness-net of his cross and resurrection.
We too can become discouraged in our baptismal vocation. Without Christ’s on-going presence in word and Sacrament we lose focus on the one fixed point of our priesthood. We deliberate on personal troubles; attend to bodily needs, desires, and the distractions of our flesh; sundry enterprises promise immediate rewards; and worldly occupations consume our attention even as death stalks.
“The Spirit is willing”; yet Jesus is aware our “flesh is weak” (Mt. 26:41). Jesus faithfully enters our weakness for restoration, refreshing, and rededication by his fleshly presence, to unseal God’s scroll for the new creation.
In our Gospel it was daybreak; the “boys” had cast their net and came-up empty. The Apostles had returned to old ways in a failing pursuit of material gain. Then at a distance Jesus was recognized on the shore, instantly reviving the crew. Jesus directed their nets to the right for a great draught of fish.
Jesus refreshes Christian focus, catching men in the net of word and cross; but first, as this morning, he serves us Breakfast, bread and fish snatched from the water by Baptism and Eucharist.
The “Seven Apostles” arrived on shore; Jesus hosted their Breakfast, he alone provides. The charcoal fire reminisces his burnt offering on the cross, laying out his flesh, our Bread of Life. Jesus’ feeding would give his “boys” new focus for resurrection minds, in recalling his other feedings that direct to the Supper of his Passion.
The opened scroll by Christ; recalls us to Jesus’ feeding 5,000 Israelites with 5 loaves and 2 fish; and 4,000 Gentiles satisfied from “seven loaves” and a “few” fish. These and other feedings inform the church of her priestly, eucharistic vocation.
We journey through chaotic seas where Leviathan patrols; still by Jesus’ opened scroll in our midst, we focus on the crystalline shore of our Father in heaven. Hearing Christ (cf. Lk. 10:16a), Christians have clear and tangible assurance of OT promises: love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and provision for holiness discerned in NT feasting on word and Sacrament.
We recognize our eucharistic food by the Scroll. Christ has crushed the head of “Leviathan” (Ps. 74:14); God has given us Jesus, to be our “Ichthus” and “Bread of angels” (Psalm 78:25) delivering heaven’s message for catching men alive in a new exodus to the Father.
Baptismally we discern by the Scroll, that we are his “great draught of fish” caught out of Leviathan’s seascape. Jesus intends us fishers of greater draughts nourished in his broken body and shed blood, foretasted to the Marriage Feast of the Lamb. Amen.