“Fish for Breakfast”
Another resurrection appearance; another meal! Does Jesus ever stop eating in his resurrection body?
21 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as 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.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He 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.
7 Then 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. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
How are you doing? We’ve just been told the shutdown is to last at least another three weeks. Another three weeks.
So…let me ask again, how are you doing?
When the shutdown is over, what will you do? Where are you longing to go?
I’m quite jealous of Peter and the disciples. I’ve only ever been fishing in a boat once before. I was 18, fresh from my A-Levels, and a group of us went to Newquay for a end-of-school blow out. We went on a fishing trip one day – ten of us. By the end, five were happily clinging to their catches; the other five, including me, were clinging to the edge of the boat, green with sea-sickness. Afterwards, we all agreed one thing – it made you feel very alive!
Peter announces that he’s off fishing. We can speculate why: frustration? Boredom? A desire to retreat to his former life? To keep busy? Clear his head? Do something he felt good at? Who knows what inspired Peter. What we do know is that though he was a seasoned fishermen, once again skills and experience don’t guarantee a catch!
What do you do that’s familiar, comforting and distracting? Are you able to do any of those things at the moment? Some of us are feeling frustrated because things we enjoy doing aren’t available to us. So we might take up hobbies we haven’t done before.
Peter was a seasoned fishermen, but what of the others on the boat? Thomas? Nathanael? Nathanael comes across as a little bookish from our first encounter with him in John 1 – how interesting that we meet him again here! And Thomas, who’s actually popped up a few times in the gospel. Were these guys the reason they caught no fish? Did Peter have bunch of amateurs with him?
What’s your boat like at the moment? Your home? Some people might be in their element, others may be struggling. Talk to the people you live with this day: what are you enjoying? What are you missing? What are you learning?
Into this scene Jesus arrives. He tells them how to fish, leading to an enormous catch of 153 fish(!), beckons them to bring some fish, and welcomes them to breakfast.
Peter and John (the disciple Jesus loves) realise that this isn’t déjà vu, but another encounter with Jesus, who lovingly uses so many familiar experiences to assure them he is really there. In Luke 5 Jesus gave the fishermen the same instruction, in Matthew 14 Peter gets out of the boat to walk to Jesus on water, there’s a meal of bread and fish reminding them of Jesus feeding 5,000 in Mark 6.
Could you return to some old habits and practices that helped you in your Christian life? Did you stop doing something that might help during the shutdown? We often think we have to find ‘new’ practices, but sometimes reading the same chapter of the Psalms, or listening to the same few worship songs over and over can be helpful. Don’t ignore the familiar!
And then significantly for Peter, there’s a bonfire. During Jesus’ trial Peter had stood warming himself by a bonfire (John 18:18). Here is Jesus, beside a bonfire, beckoning Peter to come close and share a meal. The last meal they shared was the Last Supper. Since then Peter betrayed Jesus by denying he even knew him – and here’s Jesus, welcoming Peter to a meal. This must have been terribly confusing for Peter. What had he expected? (Tomorrow we hear more of Jesus’ conversation with Peter)
We are all invited to sit and eat with Jesus. Could you develop a new pattern of prayer or conversation about Jesus at the breakfast table?
One idea: I read a chapter or two of the psalms (not the huge ones!) in the morning while my tea brews. This is different to my morning quiet time, which involves prayer and Bible reading. This smaller practice helps me bring Jesus and thoughts of God to the kitchen and the very start of my day. Could you find a small morning welcome routine? Maybe something you say as you slip out of bed? Or a prayer in the shower? Or something while you brush your teeth?