The Third Sunday of Easter
A Continuing Disclosure
John 21:1-19

Dr. William S. Epps, Senior Pastor

Sunday, May 1, 2022
1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.[a] It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus[b]), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[c] 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. 15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. 
Then he said to him, “Follow me!” 
John 21:1-19

We are basking in the aura of the implications of the resurrection of Jesus for our lives as we navigate our way beyond Easter. There are those experiences that change your life forever with glimpses of possibilities that are endless. From the awareness of the reality of the living Lord, the disciples continue to experience the presence of the Lord. The passages of scripture that follow the resurrection have the disciples experiencing Jesus’s presence without Thomas. Then with Thomas experiencing Jesus for himself. In the passage today there are seven disciples who experience the presence of the Lord with a memorable incident in three scenes.
Some truths and words always stay with us, imprinted on our memories and inscribed in who we are or what we do. We learn what we discern from what we discover about what is disclosed to us. One way to illustrate it is with the phrase, love is as love doesLove is not words. It is not feelings. Love is action. It is planned, willful thoughtfulness. It is volitional, not emotional. We discern from disclosure and discover.  

These scenes in our passage are about discernment, disclosure, and discovery.  We learn to discern what is disclosed as a discovery. 

Consider what it means that in life we use our ability to discern what is
disclosed to us as a discovery about our experience. 
Monday, May 2, 2022
The first scene revolves around the decision of Peter and the disciples to go fishing. They were at a loss for what to do since their extraordinary experience of being in the presence of the Lord. The women who came to the tomb and discovered that it was empty were told to go and tell the disciples.

They had seen the risen Lord. They had been given audacious promises by him; they had been called to a high service for him and the world. Yet day crept after day and nothing happened. If they still held together, if they still waited, it was in a growing perplexity, and with minds tiring under the strain of this unexpected delay. Until at last Peter's impatience snapped. Quite suddenly, it seems; perhaps while watching the other boats putting out for the fishing grounds, "I'm off to fish," he said; and the rest, at once falling in with the suggestion, they were with that making for the shore, hoisting the sails, and the accustomed feel of the ropes in their hands again, were back at the familiar, long-deserted tasks. For themselves it was a wise move. Wise for themselves, for idleness is a precarious condition, bringing many dangers. If grief comes, it is best not to sit solitary, moping and desolate, but to get back to one's daily work. Matthew 28:9-10 and 16-20

We have been told that an idle mind is the devil’s worship, so they busied themselves doing something rather than nothing. Better to be busy than idle. Their efforts failed. They caught nothing. This scene is a moment of disclosure when an unrecognized Jesus engages the disciples. Jesus reacquaints them with Himself by asking a question, Have you caught anything? Have your efforts been an exercise in futility? Have you accomplished what you intended? Or was it just a diversion from facing reality? 

Consider what it means to busy yourself with activity that you use
to keep yourself from being in a quandary about what to do
with new insights about reality.  
Tuesday, May 3, 2022
What distinguishes this second disclosure scene from the earlier ones is the disciples' response to Jesus before they know who He is. His directions about where to cast their nets are explicitly followed. Obedience preceded recognition, and in the obedience the disciples discover that it is the Lord - a point Albert Schweitzer so eloquently makes in the conclusion to The Quest for the Historical Jesus (1910; New York: Macmillan Co., 1961, p. 403):    

~He comes to us as one unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lake-side, he came to those men who knew him not. He speaks to us in the same word: "Follow thou me!" and sets us to the tasks which he has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey him whether they be wise of simple, he will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they will pass through in his fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who he is." (You learn who the Lord is in your own experience)~ 

Moving from deficiency of a failed effort requires obedience to the directive the Lord provides to make you proficient despite your failed effort. 
The initial scene can also be read symbolically as a statement about the mission of the community, its broad and diverse scope. Disciples, whose efforts at fishing are without success, obey the voice of Jesus, and their nets overflow with a huge catch of fish. It is intriguing that the Greek word translated here as "haul in" (21:6, 11) appears twice earlier in the Gospel to denote the divine movement in "drawing" people to Jesus and to the community of salvation (6:44; 12:32). The detail mentioned later, that the net was not torn despite the vast catch of fish (21:11), may suggest that the unity of the faithful community is maintained even in the face of a diverse and growing company of people.
Consider what it means that in obedience to the Lord
you discover who the Lord is. 
Wednesday, May 4, 2022
They went back to business as usual. The continuing discernment of Jesus refocuses our attention on what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. Paul expressed it in these words, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[a] The old has gone, the new is here!  (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You don’t go back, you go forward. Jesus propels us forward from yesterday through today with an unimaginable future. In following the Lord, you catch more than you can imagine in abundance.     
The second scene finds Jesus on the shore welcoming the disciples and providing them a breakfast of fish and bread (21:9-14). Whether or not the author intended the incident to be post-resurrection Eucharist, the passage is certainly open to such an interpretation. It parallels the feeding scene alongside the Sea of Galilee in John 6 (compare especially 6:11 and 21:13).     
The Lord provides what you need.  
In the midst of the images that speak of the length and breadth of the Christian mission, we discover the image of support and sustenance, provided by Jesus for disciples weary with a night of fishing. Even before Peter finally draws the full net ashore, Jesus, as host, has prepared the meal and later serves it to His hungry guest. It turns out to be a time of renewal for the disciples, who are confirmed in their knowledge of Jesus as Lord (21:12). “Jesus said to them, come and eat breakfast." Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are you?” The Lord renews our relationship with Him by taking us forward to fulfilling the purpose of the Lord for our lives. We witness to the reality of the redeeming, reconciling and renewing possibilities for life.
Consider what it means to be renewed afresh with the reality of an extraordinary experience of the presence of the Lord in your life.  
Thursday, May 5, 2022
The Third scene is more familiar than the previous two and depicts the reinstatement of Peter as both the leader and follower (21:15-19). Three times Peter failed Jesus precisely at the time of his trail before the high priest (18:12-27). Now three times he is queried by Jesus about his devotion and three times commissioned to be a shepherd with responsibility for the flock. The variation in the use of two Greek verbs for "love" often noted in this passage does not seem to carry any theological significance, as if two degrees or types of love are implied. Instead, the impact of the story lies in the threefold questioning and commissioning, heightened by the narrator's comment that Peter was hurt because Jesus repeated the query a third time (21:17). 
First, Peter is commissioned not only as a leader, a shepherd charged with feeding the sheep, but also as a follower (21:19). Leadership in the Christian community is destined to misuse its prerogatives and fail unless at the same time it is embraced as discipleship. Leadership and discipleship go together to balance out each other.
Second, Peter's decision to feed the flock and to follow Jesus results in his seizure and challenge. His story parallels Jesus' story in that his end is not one he would choose for himself, but an end that nevertheless glorifies God. It is a story that is marked by danger, risk, and loss, all features of the life of faithful disciples. 
Consider what it means to be reinstated in relationship with the
Lord despite being guilty of failing to acknowledge knowing the Lord. 
Friday, May 6, 2022
Reconciliation, redemption and restoration is what God did in Christ. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 
II Corinthians 5:19 (New Living Translation)
How sad it is that faith has become so politicized that the application of what God has done in Christ is used to divide, rupture and separate people into stereotypical categories creating an us against them mentality, an antagonistic, adversarial approach to applying the faith as opposed to reconciling, redeeming, restoring and renewing life abundantly in Jesus name.  
Consider what it means to use faith to divide, denigrate and demean
rather than to redeem, reconcile and restore relationships with
the Lord and one another.  
Saturday, May 7, 2022
In the last scene, Jesus engaged Peter with a dialogue about devotion with a conversation about commitment. Do you love me, the Lord asks. If the answer is yes, Lord you know I love you, you know all things, then the Lord gives you an assignment to fulfill as an expression of your love of the Lord. 
Hear the lyrics of the composer Frances Havergal:  
Take my life and let it be / Consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in endless praise.
Take my hands and let them move / At the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet and let them be / Swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice and let me sing, / Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be / Filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold, / Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use / Every pow’r as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will and make it Thine, / It shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own, / It shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour / At Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself and I will be / Ever, only, all for Thee.

Consider what it means to have a dialogue about devotion
and a conversation about commitment with the Lord. 

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