Emmitsburg Council of Churches


The Holy Gospel According to St. John 21:1-19

After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 21:2 Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 21:3 Simon 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. 21:4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 21:5 Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No." 21:6 He 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. 21:7 That 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. 21:8 But 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. 21:9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 21:10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." 21:11 So 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. 21:12 Jesus 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. 21:13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 21:14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 21:15 When 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." 21:16 A 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." 21:17 He 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. 21:18 Very 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." 21:19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."

The Gospel of the Lord. . . .

From No Catch to Nets Full of Life and Joy

From today's lessons we receive instruction at several different levels. As I have experienced these texts we heard this morning it struck me that no single one of them seems to fit just "exactly" what I want to hear or concentrate on this day or at this particular moment in life.

I don't know if you feel the way I do or not, but I am discerning a kind of hunger for something new and refreshing to come into being -- the signs are all around us that new life is coming into being -- but there are also signs of continued unrest and the old evils of the world seem to march on without end.

So when I read about Paul's conversion (Acts 9:1-20), at first, I thought to myself. I don't care about Saul falling to the ground and being blind for three days. I just want to be given some power to believe that things can be better than they are in our world today!! When will Jesus come and make all things right?

But then I read on, and I hear that Saul's conversion experience leads him to become a proclaimer of the Gospel. It is the most amazing conversion experience that is possible!!

A few days ago I read about two modern day "Sauls". The first man was a student of philosophy. He set out, on a doctoral-level study, to "prove" that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God and that the resurrection was not true. Unfortunately for this fellow, the more research he did to prove his theory that the resurrection was a falsehood --, the more his data showed that Jesus was a real historical figure who lived and died, but was then resurrected causing the subsequent formation of the Christian faith that has spread around the world and continues to grow to this day. And/So This man concluded that Jesus truly was the Son of God!

The second person, Josh McDowell, who is a familiar Christian speaker today, set out as a young academic on the same quest, his study and research, as a skeptic, also resulted in his own conversion experience. He changed from being a skeptic to becoming a very well known national and international proclaimer of the Gospel of Christ. Of course there must be countless thousands of us who have come to faith in a similar way -– through our own criticism of Christ as the Son of God. Funny thing how God turns us upside down when we exercise our will "Not to believe!"

What does this mean for us?? The more we try to disprove Christ's existence, the more God, by the Holy Spirit, leads us into the Truth. When we try to go some other way, God gets a hold on us and leads us into the Way, the Truth and the Life – This is pure grace, this IS JESUS!

From the consideration of Paul's conversion *(from Acts 9:1-20) and the conversion of our own stubborn wills, we gain some perspective on how it is that God works in us. God has a way of reversing life events – it happens in time, sometimes not in big flashy ways but in small ways – But God brings about a transformation of who we are and how we can influence the world around us.

From this kind of thinking we are brought into the context of the Gospel Message from John. Perhaps you and I can identify with the disciples who, after Jesus had died . . . returned to their previous occupation. – What else were they to do after their Lord had been taken away from them and then was mysteriously appearing and then disappearing again. They were like sheep without a shepherd. So they GO BACK To Fishing!!

In our own lives, when we find ourselves defeated or disoriented, we often return to what is familiar to us. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but we know in some instances it can be . . . .

For the disciples, they knew how to fish, maybe they needed some money or just needed some fish to feed their families in the aftermath of Jesus death. Maybe getting back out on the water, provided them with a feeling of being back in control of life.

Or Maybe they thought to themselves, "You know brothers, going down to the seashore can be very therapeutic. After what we have been through, if might be helpful to air out our feelings toward one another. "Maybe," John speaks up, "Maybe we need to work on our "self-differentiation." We were all so dependent on Jesus for directing our lives and the things we needed to be doing."

The two Sons of Zebedee then say, "We know we can be kind of domineering over you guys, but when we're out on the boat with everyone together, that's when we can relax and know that we can "relinquish our need to be in authority over everyone -- we're awfully sorry about that little incident." Nathaniel adds, "A little fishing always brings me relief from stress, and I think it will enable us all to discuss our inmost fears, like our ‘adult-child-self' and what it is that troubles us most since Jesus died. I still can't figure how it is that Jesus knew me before he ever met me! But I feel equally confused now that he is resurrected, but then he doesn't seem to remain with us. Thomas adds, "Some introspective sharing might help us to open up to our feelings about Jesus as he is now with us, but then not with us. Perhaps if we talked openly about our doubts -- we might become more resolute in our faith." Peter ends the reasoning process for the fishing trip by announcing: "I would like to talk about how my ego always gets in the way, but I find fishing much easier than that." With that he loosens his too-tight-fitting tunic, casts it aside, and is all about pulling and heaving the boat from the shoreline to the water's edge. Off they row into Galilee.

For some of us, when we have felt discouraged or defeated in our faith life -- we will also go back to whatever it was we used to do well. You might go back home to live with mom and dad, you might try out some means of escape, such as drinking or drugs, or you might just attempt a physical escape – like going on a long walk or a drive by yourself -- if your more adventurous you might take up mountain climbing or sky diving!

Obviously, some of these escape mechanisms may be more healthy or safe than others. . . . . We're really not different from the Jesus' disciples . . . We just have different mediums and mechanisms at our disposal. And yet, trying to escape from life's realities and difficulties never will suffice as a lasting or adequate solution .. .

For Saul, who became Paul, the answer started to come as he was led blindly to the home of Ananias – who laid his hands on him and prayed that Saul might regain his sight. Then it was that the disciples were able to teach him the truth about Jesus.

For the disciples, not having caught one fish on their "therapeutic fishing trip, when they sniff the smell of the charcoal fire burning on the shore line and when they experience the familiarity of breaking of bread and the distribution of the fish In Equality – Then it is that the answer is supplied to their depression and lack of direction after Jesus was raised from the dead.

The RISEN CHRIST comes to us at the critical times in our lives when we feel listless, without direction and without purpose. Jesus comes to feed us! And give us newness of LIFE!!

Christ draws us together in his Word -- we are no longer alone!! Through the Holy Supper He feeds us -- our sins are removed, our sorrows are adsorbed with his being and we absorb his Light and Life into ourselves!!

We are then strengthened, renewed, and encouraged!! We are not alone in our life's struggles, depression and anxiety must flee, because we find ourselves to be one in the Spirit, and we are enabled and encouraged to uphold one another! By the grace of God, we discover that we are One in this One Lord who loves us with an eternal and everlasting love.

The Resurrected Jesus stands before us and asks us to gather together as a physical and spiritual family. We hold and uphold one another in the same Spirit of Love that Jesus has shown us through his life and teaching.

To affirm the hope in which we live, there is the VISION of John's eschatological HOPE (Revelation 5:11-14), the vision of what is to come when we are brought into the eternal presence of our Living Lord. There in that heavenly place, we will stand side by side with our departed Loved ones who are in the Lord. The fantastic reunion that is to come, gives us comfort now in these days! We are not a fatalistic people, but we have a living hope! And we are a "doing people", because our faith is alive, active and present with us in this life. We serve God as we seek to serve one another in practical ways. Our faith and hope are not in vain, but all will be shown for what it is in the end – at the GREAT MARRIAGE FEAST of the Lord.

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory in Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen

Let us pray,

Dear Jesus, You are our comfort and hope for today, tomorrow, and always. As you caused Paul to see the truth of who you are and then emboldened him to preach IN your name. So move in our hearts and minds and lives, that we might also become powerful witnesses of the resurrected Christ.

May your name be Blessed for ever and ever


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