CHRIST’S PERSONAL INTIMACY
1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias.[a] It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3"I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[b] 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught."11Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
The Bible records especially 3 times that the disciples encountered Jesus after His resurrection. There was Easter Evening when He appeared in the Upper Room, a week later when Thomas was with them, and then the incident of the selected Text:
Jesus revealed Himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Galilee; and He revealed Himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” (7 in all!)
Then follows the account of Jesus appearing there, written for us to calm our hearts when we fret and wonder about the Lord’s will and presence in our lives. Here we see His personal intimacy, provision and presence with His followers.
CHRIST’S PERSONAL INTIMACY WITH HIS FOLLOWERS
Peter and the others immediately met with the hard-knocks of everyday life again when they ventured out, even though they were now fully aware of Christ’s resurrection: “They went out and got into the boat; but that night they caught nothing.” They wore out their backs and hands, toiling through a whole night, and could only show failure for all their true labor. Not even ONE fish!
A huge success in Elijah’s ministry was similarly followed by his running for his life from Queen Jezebel. The disciples who had once seen Jesus in His transfigured Glory came away from that experience suffering an immediate embarrassment and defeat at the hands of Satan, unable to help a demon-possessed child. And now, having so recently experienced that Jesus was Victor over Death(!), they were led to rediscover the struggles and sin-fallen earthly realities of this life. But: Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?”
What the Voice carrying through the mist expressed was the Lord’s personal intimacy and care about His frustrated followers! He was interested and inquired about how they were getting along concerning an activity that was so ordinary.
Every Easter Sunday we joyfully celebrate our conviction that Jesus truly IS alive and WILL return again in glory. But what happens after that? People go back to the same dull work routines. Some who live alone are still left that way or worse, perhaps, hospitalized or placed in a nursing facility and wondering what more could go wrong. Plug in your own experience here: What boring work, strained relationship, frustrating circumstance, encounter with temptation, loneliness or whatever has been your lot?
Then ponder… what might Jesus have to say to you? Not, “Have you any fish?”, but:
“Is there no one else to be with you right now?”
“Did you pass that test you were so worried about?”
“Has the Doctor been clear with you about your condition?”
“Sitting in front of that computer screen all day seems pretty tedious, doesn’t it?”
Fill in what Jesus might comment about your situation and realize now that He really does have that personal concern for you, even about the simplest and most ordinary things in your life!
CHRIST’S PROVISION FOR HIS FOLLOWERS
Then let’s think about our Lord’s provision for His followers! Listen in the Text to both the promise and over-abundant fulfillment of what Jesus promised: Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered Him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in for the quantity of fish… Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus was both able and DID provide for the disciples according to His promise that they would find some fish, and He even graciously provided over-abundantly!
Let’s not doubt, then, that He’s able and willing to take care of our needs, too! Haven’t we already received today many of those things that could be called our “Daily Bread”? King David professed: “I have (never) seen the righteous forsaken, or His children begging bread.”
Another time on the same Sea Jesus provided a fish-catch so great that it caused 2 boats to almost sink with the weight. Remember Peter’s reaction at that time? He realized he was really in the presence of the Almighty God and cowered on his knees begging: “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” To become so materially blessed caused him to confront his unworthiness and see his own need for forgiveness.
God grant us such clear insight into that deepest need of ours as well, because that’s what Jesus especially came to provide! Peter couldn’t have known it then, but WE know how the Lord brought it about: He died at the hands of evil men, His skin cruelly ripped, bruised and punctured with the whip, thorns and nails. He was crucified on a Cross of rough wood both by and on behalf of all sinners, including me and you, as the Substitute Sacrifice that has now indeed provided our forgiveness!
Christ’s resurrection is God’s statement that it HAS been provided .. abundantly and overflowingly! It was our sin that was beaten and put to death in the Body of Jesus, and God accepted the payment of His Blood for us, raising Him back to life and giving Him the Throne of Glory!
Having gone the full length through death and hell for us, couldn’t we then let loose of some of our constant anxieties, trusting that Jesus does and will provide for us in every other way along with our most basic need for forgiveness?
CHRIST’S CONSTANT PRESENCE WITH HIS FOLLOWERS
Some things in the several resurrection appearances seem to mystify us sometimes. Why couldn’t Mary or the Emmaus disciples recognize Jesus right away, for example? But the Text says: Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” They knew it was the Lord.
There were extended intervals between Christ’s appearances after His resurrection. He was perhaps letting it slowly sink-in with His followers that He WAS ALWAYS WITH them, whether it be in Jerusalem’s Upper Room, there at Capernaum’s shore, or wherever; WITH them even though He wasn’t constantly visible!
Over time those first disciples seem to have gradually gotten the idea. Wouldn’t we, too, like to have such a great sense of security? A little child once confused the words of Kumbayah, singing: “In my YARD, O Lord; in my YARD!” But we want Jesus even closer than that, DON’T we? In our houses! In the kitchen while supper is cooking! In the classroom when we get called on! A person who is seriously ill wants Him IN the hospital or operating room!
Jesus truly IS present in His Supper shared among us. He dwells in us by His Spirit given in Baptism. He’s present where 2 or 3 gather in His Name and when His Word is taught. Those are precious things that we shouldn’t overlook, but, beyond those things and simply on the basis of His sure Word of Promise, realize once more that He IS with you, at all times and wherever you are! He said: “Lo, I am with you always; even to the end of the age.”
Peter seemed not to sense his forgiveness in Christ back at the time of the first miraculous fish-catch. He wanted to get away from Jesus then, but look at him NOW: When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and SPRANG into the Sea.
Hang ON to YOUR Easter excitement and joy! Jesus is personally concerned about you, too! He forgives you and is going to provide all your other needs as well! He is “Immanuel”—GOD, WITH you! AMEN.