There are various things we could talk about on Resurrection Sunday.
We could lay out the minimal facts arguments for the resurrection and see how it is the most logical explanation for what happened that first Easter Morning. That would be informative maybe even interesting.
We could talk about the woman, and how scandalous it was for women to be the first eyewitnesses entrusted to proclaim this earth-shattering news. This is why Alicia’s monologue was so absolutely important for us.
Finally, we could review the meaning of the doctrine of the resurrection, its significance and development and what it means for us. Again, a worthwhile venture but who really wants to spend Easter Sunday talking about doctrine.
Instead, I want to talk about the life of the resurrection as it revolves around food, meals, the ordinary routines of life as presented to us in John 21. As Easter passes each year we don’t have the luxury of merely reflecting on it eating our chocolate bunnies and saying I can’t wait for eternal bliss, the life of the Resurrection is a daily, Weekly thing it is ordinarily extraordinary, A moment that transcends all moments. So what does the daily life of the resurrection look like? There are three windows that we can look through…
1- The regular rhythms of life, exemplified by breakfast on the beach
2- Unfinished business exemplified by Peter and Jesus around the fire
3- Sameness and difference, exemplified by post-resurrection Jesus.
Let’s read a bit from John 21 and make a few comments from it…
21 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. 3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.(John 21:1-17 NLT)
After the craziness of everything that happened over the last few weeks, they go fishing.
After the craziness of the triumphant entry, the Last Supper, Judas’s betrayal, the arrest, Peter’s denials, the crucifixion, the burial, the empty tomb, the women’s report and the appearances… they decide to seemingly unwind and go fishing. They must have been antsy, unsure of what their lives were going to look like so the did some ‘self-care’ and fished… calming, meaningful and part of who they were.
But no luck until a stranger asks them a question… asks it in a way he is anticipating a no. What he’s saying is: you haven’t caught any fish yet have you? That he offers a suggestion. Try the other side of the boat.
They do, they catch, they recognize and Peter swims over.
Jesus is on the beach with a fire and some fish cooking.
But he asks for some of the fish, some of the 153 they had just caught.
(sitting there Jesus asks for fish from Peter even though he doesn’t need Peter’s help)
On this morning the disciples meet Jesus on a beach. Jesus says come and have breakfast Peterson says it this way breakfast is ready. The ordinary part of our lives food, Conversation the routine that shapes us is what Jesus is inviting them and us into the life of the Resurrection.
The life of the resurrection entails participating in the work of the risen Christ.
So much of what happened with the disciples, with Peter and Jesus- is just so regular and ordinary, fishing, cooking, building a fire, sitting around the fire…having a conversation – all of the ordinary aspects of life. But it is also much more than that. Jesus from the shore offered them a new task a re-casted vision – the other side of the boat. Jesus offered Peter an opportunity to assist- to participate in that life.
Being a part of what Christ is doing, helping him, even though he doesn’t need it. The resurrection life, the life of Easter is an invitation to be who you are, do what you do but be working for a boss who cares and isn’t forcing you to work but offering a place to flourish.
Meaningful work, ordinary rhythms re-defined but there is more.
Why is Peter so quick to jump off the boat and swim to shore even though he gets there no sooner and still as to help get the catch ashore.
Because Peter is very eager to go and meet Jesus as his story is unfinished and he so desperately needs another chapter. Peter needs forgiveness and to have a restored relationship with Jesus.
You see the last time that Peter was around a little fire he denied Jesus three times (John 18). And as he saw it, stood there and sat down, I cannot imagine him not making the connection in his own mind and feeling guilt, shame or remorse… He had to recognize it- John wants us to recognize this… Pete does want the initial fire, the fire of denial to be the last word, the end of the story to be that- so when he recognizes Jesus at the shore he goes… Thinking something like – maybe this will be my chance… and finally, after breakfast, he had his chance. Sitting around the fire…Jesus three times ask him do you love me? Do you love me? Simon son of John do you love me? Each time Peter answers yes you know that I love you. Peter pushes through the hurt he felt as he’s given what he needed restoration I knew start I further invitation to once more follow Jesus.
The second part of the life of the Resurrection is that it is a life of second chances and new chapters.
Peter had failed but needed restoration and got. We all have chapters of failure and restoration of penitence and forgiveness. All of us unfinished stories chapters that need to be written or rewritten. This is what the resurrection life offers us… places where we can move from the first fire of denial to the second fire of restoration. So I ask you, do you have unfinished business? A chapter that needs to be edited, rewritten but you have yet to search out the one who met Peter at the Fire to make it right, the one who will meet you where you are at.
The good news is that even after this restoration, Peter still made mistakes- just like we all will and the resurrection life has room for that- because it is the life of second, third, fourth, fifth etc. chances.
Ordinary rhythms, second chances and one more.
Finally… the final aspect of the resurrection life is the both/ and of sameness and difference.
The disciples who again met Jesus have been with him for numerous years. They knew him and here on the beach at breakfast, they both recognize him and are caught off guard by him. The Jesus they meet is different than the one they had journeyed with, yet was somehow the same also.
New Testament commentator Robert Cargill, says this “note that the resurrected Jesus, with the glorified body, still has the scars of the crucifixion. The resurrected body still has scars. Think about that. Our scars are part of who we are…” this hits to the heart of it.
Jesus is still the same to them in the sense that he offered them the meal in almost the same way he fed the 5000 thousand, with a familiar cadence and phrasing… he wanted them to recognize, to understand…
but despite this all, he is shockingly different from who he was before. He is the resurrected Lord, the one who conquered death. For us, the life of the resurrection, the life post easter, the life after we meet Christ is meant to be one where we are the same yet shockingly different. From this moment, Peter what shockingly different, John what shockingly different. They still are still who they are.
The same is true for us… because of the resurrection- after our Easter experience, when we meet the resurrection Christ we are changed… like Paul on the Damascus Road.
It is an invitation to transformed, to be different- but still be you… To live a life that is shaped by the one who walked through death and came out on the other side…scars and all.
Ordinary Rhythms, second chances, and the life of radical sameness…
This is part of the life of the resurrection that Jesus offers to us this Easter.
*For more see Eugene Peterson’s Living the Resurrection: The Risen Christ in Everyday Life. Which was helpful as I prepared.