Jesus restores

Suzanne Bowles, PhD

3 Easter   May 1, 2022   by Suzanne G. Bowles, Ph.D.

Today’s Gospel lesson from John tells us of Jesus’s third post-Resurrection appearance – not third of the total, but third to this group of men.   It is specified that there were five apostles (including James and John who are the sons of Zebedee), and two others unnamed.  Judas is gone, of course, and four others appear not to have been there.

            In some ways this is an odd passage.  The Gospel seems to have ended with Chap. 20, verse 31.  “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name.”  Then this story seems tacked on, though it’s generally acknowledged that the author is John.  But why is this episode in here?  Why did John add it?

            Essentially two things happen in this passage.  The disciples go fishing and strike out.  Nothing.  Jesus appears, tells them where to get a good haul of fish, and then cooks them breakfast.  The second thing is the conversation with Peter where Jesus restores Peter to full apostle status after his denials in the courtyard.  Note how Jesus asks him three times “do you love me?”  Some commentators think this corresponds to the three times Peter denied Jesus. Very possibly.  Then John wraps up the story, but not before reminding the reader that he was an eyewitness to these events.

            It’s all pretty simple and, apart from the shock of seeing Jesus back from the dead, this story seems pretty normal.  Wouldn’t you like to wake up and find Jesus in your kitchen making you breakfast?  I know I would.

            There are a couple of interesting facets to this beautiful postscript from John that we ought to look at.  One is that there would have been no breakfast if it hadn’t been for Jesus.  They had no fish, at least until Jesus tells them where to find them, and it appears that Jesus brought the bread as well.  Other translations have them telling Jesus that they have no food, not just fish, but no food of any sort.  But Jesus supplies all our need and he provides them a nice breakfast.   These men were professional fishermen yet they, too, needed Jesus’s help to find the big haul.  So do we.

            The second interesting thing is that they know it’s Jesus, but not obviously so, and they were afraid to address him.  “None of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’”  Are they afraid he will be angry with them?  We don’t know, but when they finish breakfast and the conversation between Jesus and Peter ensues it seems that they   know very well who he is and address him as “Lord.”  While some of this encounter seems normal, some of it is downright strange.

            I don’t want to overanalyze it, and I don’t have the biblical chops to do that anyway.  So I’ll just conclude with this:

            1. let’s face it, Jesus’s post-Resurrection appearances are strange and frightening, but yet reassuring.  He was killed; he really died, and now he’s back.

            2. Jesus cares about us and helps us when we are in need

            3. Jesus doesn’t come back to tell Peter off and make him feel guilty and inadequate   He comes back to restore him.  And that may be the best news of all from this passage.  Jesus doesn’t come to condemn us but to restore us.  Amen.