One of my favorite Easter stories is John 21 and what is suggests about life in the post resurrection world.
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 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. 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.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ 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.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 lake. 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.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 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. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:1-14 NRSV
American culture celebrates size, flash, impact, excitement, novelty, and you can add to this list without any more help from me. The church is not much better- it wants to be “on fire”, doing great things, taking back…, and you are able to add to this list as well.
In the scene in John 21 there are no crowds, no flash, no impact and the only thing on fire is the wood cooking the fish. The disciples are in an odd place. They have seen the risen Lord and they know everything has changed, but yet not much has changed. They still need to work, so they go fishing. Life isn’t easy,they fish all night with no result. They still get tired. They still get hungry. Then Jesus shows up.
Not in a cloud.
Not with an angelic choir.
No thunder and lightning.
But still we wonder, what is Jesus going to do now? Call up the heavenly host? Commission the Church? Take over Rome?
Well,no. He just walks along the beach at dawn and calls out, “Catch anything?”
Then he tells them to fish off the other side of the boat (do you think they hadn’t tried that?) and they catch a huge amount of fish.
The world hasn’t changed and yet it has changed.
Jesus asks, “Have you had breakfast?” “No? Well come on and eat.” While Peter and the others have been hauling in their net full of fish, Jesus has been cooking breakfast.
That’s what the Risen Lord does. The One who has defeated sin and death, cooks breakfast for some tired and hungry workers.
The Kingdom of God is like… a fish fry?
That doesn’t even make sense.
Jesus should be in the Temple or at Herod’s Palace with a smile on his face saying, “I’m back!”
Pagan temples should crumble. Sinners should be commanded to repent. The righteous should be taking control of the government. Jesus should be in Rome “encouraging” the Emperor to step aside.
Jesus should not be watching the sun rise and eating fish with some fishermen. That is not what the Kingdom of God looks like.
Or is it?