Sermon – Easter III

(From May 1, 2022)

Happy Easter!

              This morning we’re back in Galilee where the story began.  Peter announces that he is going fishing and the other disciples join him.  According to John the Evangelist, this is the third appearance of the Risen Christ. Here, on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus not only gives physical reassurance that he lives indeed; he brings actual sustenance to their wavering lives.

              During this appearance, which possibly a final editor has appended to John’s Gospel, we observe a group of disciples who are still in need of guidance and encouragement in their coming mission. Perhaps they have gone fishing again to allow themselves time to reflect on all that has occurred.

              The guidance comes. Once more the Risen Lord appears to them, but with no announcement or ceremony. And evidently a Resurrected body is not so easily identified.

              He asks them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” And they have to answer, “No.” But after following his advice to cast their net on the right side of the boat, they find it traps so many fish that they are unable to haul them all in (v. 6). Obedience leads to amazing — near miraculous—results. Fish overflowing.

              During this appearance, Jesus prepares a meal for his beloved friends. As Donald S. Armentrout, long-time professor of Church History at Sewannee, has written: “In this sense, Jesus is not only the Great High Priest, but he is the Head Chef or Cook. While we may set the table, he is truly the Host.”

              We see here a picture also of Eucharist — a feeding and an ongoing sustenance necessary to the Christian life. Participating in the Eucharist is basic to our continuing in Jesus’ fellowship. In the light of this generosity, we learn to see our attention to its enactment not as a duty or obligation, but rather as a gift. Just as the Lord was made known to the disciples in this breakfast, so is he made manifest to us in the Eucharistic meal.

              In this experience, we know that, through the Holy Spirit, he gives us the power to believe the nearly unthinkable and to do the impossible: to witness convincingly to the world that Christ lives, the Savior of all people.

              Theologian Robert Hoch puts it this way. “It is almost as if by deciding to follow Jesus, we return to our true selves, beloved of God. Our lives imitate Christ’s life, our joys Christ’s joy, our heartaches Christ’s heartache.”

              For us, the Risen Savior comes to us, many times in a manner we do not recognize, and invites us to a task that may seem outrageous.  More importantly, he invites us to his table saying, “Come, have breakfast.

Happy Easter!


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