Breakfast on the Seashore

Breakfast on the Seashore

Scripture: Isaiah 61:1-3; Psalm 92: 1-4; John 21:1-13

Jesus was coming to the end of his ministry on earth. He was about to demonstrate to the disciples on that morning by the seashore that He possesses the same powers and more than He had possessed before the crucifixion.

Peter was always a man of action, but he, along with the other disciples must now feel like a group without purpose or direction. Waiting is hard work. The disciples were no longer constantly with Jesus and the time has come when Peter has to leave the locked room and get back to living life. Peter had been a fisherman by trade. He had been a businessman who depended upon fishing to earn a living for his family. When Jesus had called Peter to come and follow Him, Jesus had said that He would make Peter a fisher of men. Peter had somehow believed who Jesus was and Peter had readily left the fishing to others, but he still had his boat.

“I’m going fishing,” Peter announced to the other disciples. Not all the disciples had come from the fishing industry, but seven of the disciples agreed to go with Peter.

Now it is early in the morning. John describes the scene for us. The disciples had fished all night. Time and again they had thrown their net over the side of the boat, but the net had always been pulled up empty. If Peter was frustrated when he left the locked room, that frustration must now have multiplied. Had he lost his ability to do what he had done most of his life? What if there was nothing more that he would be doing for Jesus? What would he do?

It’s morning now and the fishing trip has ended with no catch. They are moving the boat back to the shore. When they are only one hundred yards away from the shore, they are within shouting distance of a man standing on the shore who calls out to them and asks if they have any fish. They reply that they have none. Jesus calls out, “Let down your net on the right hand side of the boat.” Perhaps, they think, He has seen a school of fish that they have missed. One of the disciples now recognizes the Man on the shore and says to Peter, “That’s Jesus!”

Have you ever been surprised by the ring of the doorbell, or a knock at the door, and you aren’t dressed for the day? You throw on something to cover yourself and go to the door.

These men on the boat have stripped down to the bare essentials because fishing is hot, sweaty work. When one of the disciples announces that it is Jesus who stands on the shore, Peter, as impulsive as ever, throws on his outer garment, jumps in the water, and swims to shore.

Meanwhile, the net that the disciples have lowered brings up such a big haul that is so large that they cannot lift it into the boat. They drag it alongside the boat as they row to shore. Like all fisher people, they count their catch; 153 fish.

Jesus has a little fire going and He has cooked some bread and fish over the coals. He invites the disciples to bring some of their fish and contribute them to the meal.

Jesus always invites us to bring what we have and partner with what He provides to make what is needed complete.

Picture yourself there with the disciples. They don’t see you. You are just there to personally witness what is happening. Jesus gives bread and fish to the men and they eat together. But so much more is happening here before us.

Just as Jesus began his ministry with the miracle at the wedding celebration in Cana, He now comes near to the close of his physical presence on earth and He performs another miracle, the miracle of fish. That first miracle at the wedding celebration in Cana was one of abundance; literally 6 stone water pots filled with water were turned into wine. That was 120 gallons of wine! And it was the best wine at the wedding feast. What Jesus gives is always the best. This miracle supplies an abundance of fish.

When John writes the Gospel, he begins by reflecting, “From the fullness of his grace we have received one blessing after another.” (John 1:16 NIV)

This meal on the seashore was meant to show that God’s gift is available in the risen Christ just as it was in the incarnate Christ. It was meant to demonstrate to the new community that will become the Church that its life is grounded in an experience of God’s fullness and unprecedented, unexpected gift. This story provides the backdrop for the call to commitment that Peter receives.

Jesus’ gifts that were experienced in the miracles were signs of his ultimate gift, the gift of his life in love, and Jesus calls Peter to share in that gift.

Jesus has some personal time with Peter; He asks Peter important questions. Before the crucifixion Peter had said with all honesty, “I will lay down my life for You.” But, as we know, Peter was not as courageous as he thought he was, and he denied that he even knew Jesus. On this morning, on the seashore, Peter has an opportunity to make things right and Jesus takes the initiative to ask the questions that will lead Peter to the next chapter of his life.

 Jesus addresses Peter in the same way that He addressed him when He called Peter from the fishing boat three years ago. “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”

(Peter) “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
(Jesus) “Tend my lambs.”
(Jesus) “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
(Peter) “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.”
(Jesus) “Shepherd my sheep.”
(Jesus) “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
(Peter) “Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You.”
(Jesus) “Tend my sheep.”

The three questions and answers remind us that Jesus is commissioning Peter to live out the same kind of love that Jesus has demonstrated. Peter’s love is to be without discrimination. Peter will learn more about that kind of love than he knows now. Peter is not being asked to simply give lip service by his answers to Jesus. Peter is pledging his life. Peter is the model for who Jesus is calling all of us to be. Peter is to love like Jesus loves for as long as he lives. Peter will literally lay down his life as the price for loving as Jesus loves.

There have been many women and men who have been martyred for the faith, but Jesus points out to Peter that martyrdom is not the issue. The issue is living out a life of unconditional love that embraces all people and shares with them the Good News story of Jesus. John reminds us that the story begins with the gifts of Jesus to all of the disciples.

  • He gives bread and fish to Peter who receives a special commission.
  • He gives bread and fish to Thomas and Nathanial who wanted to see to believe (John 1:47-50; 20:24-29).
  • He gives bread and fish to the sons of Zebedee and to the unnamed disciples about whom there is nothing recorded except that they were disciples.

For those of us who give up our lives in love, who struggle daily in what may seem like the smallest places to bear witness of Jesus’ love with our lives, all receive Jesus’ gifts. Our discipleship begins with the affirmation, our believing acceptance of who Jesus is, and the celebration of the gift of God in Jesus. May our discipleship be authentic and may we love all people as Jesus loved.