Easter 3-C, 4/22/07

“Come and Dine”
John 21: 1-19

1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias ; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon 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, but that night they caught nothing. 4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net to 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 because there were so many fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. 8But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. 9When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, Follow me.”

ust a few days after his Resurrection we find Jesus again joining with his band of Apostles camping together on the familiar shore of the Sea of Galilee near  the seaside town of Tiberias. The men were camping out and fishing as they had done so many times before Jesus' torture and crucifixion. They begin to recognize him on the shore as he calls out instructions on how to catch fish. He had done so before. As their boat, now filled with many fish nears shore, they hear his familiar invitation, "Come and Dine!"  Come and share in the breaking of freshly cooked bread and the fire is ready for some of the tasty fish. In the breaking of bread they recall that Last Supper that Jesus shared with them on the night that he was betrayed. They had seen him alive after having seen him dead. They must have still been a little shaken by these events. So now, they have some needed rest and a restful meal.

This is the same call we still hear whenever we get closer to him. We draw closer and closer to him and we begin to hear, feel, and experience his calling especially for us. He has a job for us, a place or places for us to serve in his Kingdom, His Church. As did the Apostles, we never see the ending before we begin the journey. It is only in looking back that we see how we did in responding to his call. Like most ordinary ventures we set out with our plan, but sometimes when we get home we realize that the journey was a surprise all along the way.

I have been reading a biography of a preacher friend who died too young. He had risen out of a deep south Georgia farm to become the pastor of the largest local church in World Methodism where he followed the famous Dr. Charles Allen at First Church, Houston. Bill Hinson had become a leader of our denomination. He preached with great passion and calling at our North Georgia Conference just months prior to his death. The book carries the title that he had discovered on a tomb in the Catacombs of Rome which read in Latin, "Lord, he went." We can only imagine that some first century Christian Missionary had been laid to rest under the theme song of his life. Jesus had instructed his followers with the words from our text, "Follow Me," and this nameless marker proclaimed that this saint had carried out his calling, "Lord, He Went."  Still, Jesus is calling each of us into a place of service.

We wonder how differently the situation would have been if a campus minister, or  fellow student, could have befriended Sun-Kyung Cho, the shooter who committed such a heinous act of murdering thirty-two students and teachers at Virginia Tech last Monday.  In his rants we heard him assume the name of Ishmael, who was a troubled soul and the child of Abraham and Hagar who was Abraham's wife Sarah's servant. Later, when Isaac was born to Abraham and Sarah it made Ishmael unnecessary anymore. Ishmael is typically called the father of the Arabs, and was branded as excess baggage.

We cannot solve all of the world's problems but we have been called and we have come to Jesus and have followed him as best we have been able. Maybe someday someone will say about us, "Lord, He Went!"

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
Easter 3-C, 4/22/07