Devotional Message: The Third Sunday of Easter; Year C (5/5/2019)


Acts 9:1-6 [7-20]
Psalm 30
Revelation 5:11-14
St. John 21:1-19

Prayer of the Day

Eternal and all-merciful God, with all the angels and all the saints we laud your majesty and might. By the resurrection of your Son, show yourself to us and inspire us to follow Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2 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. 3 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.

4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” 6 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. 7 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 sea. 8 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.

9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 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. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

St. John 21:1-19, New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

Message: Feed My Sheep

This week’s Gospel lesson immediately follows last week’s lesson. Jesus appears to the disciples (sans Thomas), Jesus appears to the disciples (with Thomas), John tells us why he wrote this Gospel in the first place (so those who read it might come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing may have life in his name…). And then, “after these things” we come to one of the most dramatic stories in John’s Gospel.

It begins with the first liturgical response of the Christian movement:
Leader: I am going fishing.
People: We will go with you

We don’t know why Peter and the other disciples do this. Perhaps they are giving up on the movement they thought Jesus had invited them to join, and are going back to what they did for a living before they met him. Perhaps they are overwhelmed and exhausted, and a night on the water seems like a good way to unwind. Perhaps they just couldn’t think of anything else to do. We don’t know why they do this, but we do know what happened. These hard-working men, led by some professional fishermen, spend the entire night throwing nets and hauling them back in, and catch absolutely nothing.

It is then that a stranger standing on the shore suggests they throw their nets just to the right side of the boat. They do, the catch is so great they can’t haul it in, one of the disciples recognizes Jesus, and Peter is so glad to see him that he grabs his clothes and swims a hundred yards to shore.

What is Peter expecting? It hasn’t been long since he denied Jesus three times. Will Jesus embrace him with love and forgive him? Will he demand an accounting for why Peter couldn’t stand up for him on Friday? What takes place is most likely more than Peter could ever have imagined in his wildest dreams. Three times (Three times!) Jesus asks Peter a question, and invites his response.

Jesus: Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?
Peter: Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.
Jesus: Feed my lambs.

Jesus: Simon son of John, do you love me?
Peter: Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.
Jesus: Tend my sheep.

Jesus: Simon son of John, do you love me?
Peter:Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.
Jesus: Feed my sheep.

The one who three times denied Jesus on Good Friday is three times given the opportunity to proclaim his love for Jesus. Three times Jesus responds by affirming Peter’s call to become the shepherd of Jesus’ sheep. The Christian movement receives its first leader. One who has failed Jesus terribly. One who is loved by Jesus profoundly. One who is forgiven by Jesus graciously. And one who will lead the church in making sure that forgiveness and new life stand at the heart of everything it does; the first step towards experiencing what Jesus means by “life in his name."

David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel

  1. What must Peter be feeling as he makes his way from the boat to the shore?

  2. Why does Jesus ask Peter these three questions?

  3. How does Peter embody the forgiveness and new life of Jesus as he leads the church in its early years?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel

  1. When have I witnessed someone receiving forgiveness?

  2. When have I been most aware of failing God?

  3. Who has helped me to experience the forgiveness God wants me to know?