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Posts Tagged "John 21:1-14"

A Breakfast to Remember

May 05, 2019
By Rev. Peter Heckert

+ Grace to you, and peace, from God our heavenly Father, and from our resurrected Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. + Amen.

The text for our meditation is from our Gospel text, where John records, When [the disciples] got out on land, they 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 went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. Here ends our text; dear Christian friends…

John doesn’t say, “a large number of fish.” He doesn’t say, “more fish than that net had ever held.” It wasn’t the nice, even “150 fish,” or even the moderately precise, albeit vague, “over 150 fish.” No, John tells us it was 153 fish. Exactly. John records this number, with no explanation, no indication that there was anything particularly remarkable about this exact and precise number that he gives. Not surprisingly, over the centuries, people have tried to read some significance into this exact number that John records; numerologists, mathematicians have all tried to explain the deeper meaning, but John doesn’t say. He just gives us the number of whoppers hauled in by the disciples, and thus every explanation is, frankly, speculation. It’s just there. 153 – John just knew it.

And how could he not? This was, after all, a very memorable morning! And as we all know, memory is a funny thing. I can remember the details surrounding my grandfather’s death, the horrific events of 9/11, and my first car accident. I also remember the details surrounding how I first asked my wife out, the details when I asked for her hand in marriage, and the details of that gorgeous day when we got married. It’s amazing the way things stick out in our minds, the details surrounding important, life-changing events, both the negative and the positive. And I think that was the case with John – he remembers the exact number of fish, because of the greater context of his memory of that day, that morning, the day that he had a most remarkable breakfast with his resurrected Lord and Savior.

After a night of undoubted frustration, catching no fish in spite of their expertise and wisdom as (former) professional fishers, the disciples are tired. Exhausted. Hungry. And as dawn breaks, suddenly there’s some guy standing on the shore calling out to them, “Children, don’t you have any fish?” They yell back, “No,” and the stranger shouts back, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They do, and lo and behold, they haul in a massive catch of whoppers, which John later tells us numbered exactly 153. In response to this incredible, instantaneous, prompted catch, John tells Peter, “It is the Lord!” and Peter, known for his sometimes hasty reactions, throws on his outer garment and dives into the water in order to swim to shore and be with his Lord while the others make their way back to shore in the boat.

Once on land, they behold a remarkable sight: breakfast, already prepped for them, with loaves of bread and fish already cooking on the charcoal fire. But this remarkable feast is nothing compared to seeing their Lord for the third time since He was crucified. He’s no ghost or spirit as He sits to eat and drink with them; no, this really is Jesus in the flesh. The same precious body that Mary bore in her womb, the same hands that healed and performed miracles, the same feet that walked the length and breadth of the land proclaiming the Gospel. It’s Jesus – once truly dead, but truly alive again. And He’s made them breakfast.

Because that’s what Jesus does: He provides for our needs. It doesn’t always feel that way, though, does it? Sometimes, life feels more like the fruitless night of fishing that the disciples had. The frustrations, the disappointments – sometimes, the realities of living in a broken, sinful world hit us square in the face. Diseases, broken bodies, fractured minds, lost jobs, dysfunctional families, broken marriages, financial ruin, corrupt government, civil unrest, war, famine, genocide, natural disasters – sometimes, it can feel like God doesn’t care. Like He doesn’t provide for our needs. Life hits us hard, and we’re tempted to believe that God has left us hanging, with no way out and no real hope.

This season of Easter … what we celebrate during this blessed time of year, the hope that we have … begs to differ. See, God does provide for all our needs, circumstances notwithstanding. This is a reality that we confess in our catechism, which you 8th graders certainly should remember:

I believe that God has made me and all creatures; that He has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason and all my senses, and still takes care of them. He also gives me clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, land, animals, and all I have. He richly and daily provides me with all that I need to support this body and life. He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. All this He does only out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.

Yes, even for the man lying on his death bed, even for the woman who’s unsure how she’ll make ends meet for her and her kids, even for the couple struggling with infertility. God provides. He certainly provides for our daily needs, but more importantly, He has provided for our eternal needs. Good Friday should still be fresh in our minds – it likely was for the disciples that morning – and as the Son of Man was left hanging, suspended between heaven and earth, as His blood turned the ground at the foot of the cross a crimson hue, He provided for our deepest, most primal and basic need: atonement. Redemption. The forgiveness of sins. The just penalty that we incurred was dealt instead to Him, as He gasped for breath, bleeding and broken, before crying out, “It is finished.” He died, and creation mourned. But that was not the end of the story! The Father shows us that this self-sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf was, indeed, acceptable to Him, when the following Sunday morning, that same broken body, cold and still in the veil of death, started living again.

Jesus brought to us the forgiveness of sins by paying sin’s penalty for us; and now, He gives to us the promise and the seal that we will all, likewise, literally and actually rise from the dust of death to the resurrected life forever with Him. He provides this through His proclaimed Word – the very fact that you sit here and hear the Word of God is His providing for your eternal well-being! He provides through His lavish washing away of sin in the waters of Holy Baptism! He provides for your hungering and thirsting for righteousness as He feeds you with His actual body, giving you His actual blood to drink in the blessed feast of which we will soon partake! These ordinary things do extraordinary things! They provide for you exactly what God says they provide: the forgiveness of sins and the promise of life everlasting!

Now certainly, the breakfast that Jesus provided for the weary disciples was not Holy Communion. But there are similarities. Even as He was providing for their temporal needs, He was still providing for them a witness that strengthens faith. With their own eyes, the disciples were looking at the once-dead, now-living Lord. They were eating with Him, laughing with Him, enjoying the fellowship and the cooking that the King of Creation provided. He wasn’t a ghost. He wasn’t dead anymore. He was alive again; scratch that, He IS alive again! This is the present reality, and no circumstances of life can change that, nor the promises the Jesus has given to you, His people! The disappointments, the failures, the frustrations – they all come, and they do break us down, but they cannot change the objective reality that your sins are forgiven, that eternal life is yours, and that Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior, is risen from the dead! He provides – whether it’s just breakfast, or the marriage feast of the Lamb in His kingdom, which will never end!

+ In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. + Amen.

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