Jesus is dead and Peter and others have returned to Galilee to take up their old life again. The accounts of the New Testament are contradictory as to where the disciples went and why. However, it is possible, and not unlikely, that they went back to Galilee, at least for a while. According to John the risen Christ finds them there and feeds them by the lake. The disciples are the fishermen, and yet it is Christ who feeds them. It sounds a bit like going to a superb restaurant and taking your own picnic. There is also the question of who this person is, and whether it was in fact Jesus who was raised. No one is a hundred per cent sure and although Peter is supposed to leap out of the boat and acknowledge that it is Jesus, no one else is that sure and one can’t help but wonder if the writer has doctored the story a little to make it the more certain.
The writer wants us to think that it is Jesus the risen Christ. so let us believe that and see what this person has to say and we find that he has three clear things to offer. They are, forgiveness, challenge and commission.
You know that we have a building plan to improve our premises that should, all things being equal, be approved for us to begin next Tuesday. But instead of the beginning, imagine that it was just completed. We would be faced with something accomplished and yet the main work of using the new buildings has not yet started. A similar situation faced the disciples. It wasn’t a physical building that was completed, but a spiritual building in which Jesus has been crowned the Lord of all. Their apprenticeship as disciples is completed; the work of Jesus as an earthly teacher and healer is over; the first part of messiahship is concluded and now that this is all achieved something new has to be accomplished and worked out and that is why Christ is with them to take the role of teacher once again and set them upon the road of new possibilities and new life.
Just like the morning of the resurrection was set in the dark to signify that the disciples were ‘in the dark,’ so this scene is set at sunrise, the beginning of a new day, the start of something new, a scene of freshness and expectancy and wonder, a barbeque breakfast that will transform creation itself.
Note that the disciples dare not ask this person ‘who he was.’ John says that they knew it was the Lord. Yet he clearly was not the same as he had been, otherwise they would have easily recognized him. You don’t forget someone that easily and so quickly.
Unfortunately we are not told how he was different but we can assume can we that his features were different? Can we believe his voice was different? Some years back, I went to a party for a friend who was fifty and there were friends I had known at school, but I had not seen them for thirty years and some I did not recognize, except for one, and it was his voice that I remembered. His face had changed beyond recognition for me, but his voice was the same, and this is how I knew who it was. No mention is made of recognizing the voice of Jesus and his face could not have been the same.
So was it Jesus? If it was then we should know that he is transformed. Maybe that is what the story is telling us.
Transformation is what the story is about. A night of fruitless fishing becomes a morning surprise. The time of doing your old job becomes one of commission, feed my sheep. The Peter who boasts he will never fail Jesus, but does so again and again before the crucifixion, is given the simple command ‘Follow me’ and, as far as we know, this is what he did.
Everything changes in the light of Easter, and the author of the Book of Revelation gives us the changes in poetry. ‘To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and might.’
The Jewish monotheism has been split into its component parts … light, white light is broken into the colors of the spectrum as it passes through the glass, so the one God is shown in its true colors as it passes through the resurrection and ascension of Christ Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Some have thought that these chapters of Revelation are a vision of the future, but it is not; it is instead, a picture of the throne room from which visions of the future will be shown. Through them we will get a glimpse of what the future may hold. That is what we ask our selves each year, at least, and Christians ask themselves all the time.
What of the future, if this transforming reality is actually let loose on the world?
What would happen if real Christian morality, love and forgiveness, broke through into peoples hearts the world over?
It is the question that faced Paul on his now famous journey along the road to Damascus. If the power of God is let loose what will it do?
Instead of opposing it and trying to suppress it what if we encourage it and give it space to breathe?
What will happen?
Then we ask, what will it do to our lives and the lives of those we know?
How scared are we to join in the song of perfect harmony?
Will we come up with excuses – I have a terrible voice, I can’t reach the high notes or the low notes. We are good at finding reasons why we cannot be part of the solution but all the while we remain the problem Christ remains nailed to the cross of Calvary and the barbeque breakfast by the lake at sunrise is only an expectant hope waiting for us.
Easter 3 sermon by The Very Reverend Roger Dawson,
Bishop of St. Mary’s Anglican Catholic Cathedral, Caracas