Jesus appears to his disciples a third time after the resurrection. He is on the shore and they are in their fishing boats.
Read the following Scriptures out loud. Place yourself in the story as one of the disciples. Use all five senses as you are in the boat.
- How does it feel to have not caught one fish when you are already in a depressed state…no more Jesus to follow…going back to your trade because you don’t know what else to do? Not a fish to be had.
- Do you smell the sea? Are the waves lapping up against the boat and spraying a mist across your face? Is it sunny or hot? Do any memories come up?
- What’s your response to some guy on the beach yelling out to ask you if you have caught any fish?
- What do you think when you hear the stranger direct you to put the nets on the other side of the boat?
- What happens inside you when you over-hear John (unless you have chosen to be John!) say, “It is the Lord!”
John 21: 1-14
Jesus later appeared to his disciples along the shore of Lake Tiberias. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas the Twin, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, and the brothers James and John, were there, together with two other disciples. 3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing!”
The others said, “We will go with you.” They went out in their boat. But they didn’t catch a thing that night.
4 Early the next morning Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize who he was. 5 Jesus shouted, “Friends, have you caught anything?”
“No!” they answered.
6 So he told them, “Let your net down on the right side of your boat, and you will catch some fish.”
They did, and the net was so full of fish that they could not drag it up into the boat.
7 Jesus' favorite disciple told Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon heard that it was the Lord, he put on the clothes that he had taken off while he was working. Then he jumped into the water. 8 The boat was only about a hundred yards from shore. So the other disciples stayed in the boat and dragged in the net full of fish.
9 When the disciples got out of the boat, they saw some bread and a charcoal fire with fish on it. 10 Jesus told his disciples, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” 11 Simon Peter got back into the boat and dragged the net to shore. In it were one hundred fifty-three large fish, but still the net did not rip.
12 Jesus said, “Come and eat!” But none of the disciples dared ask who he was. They knew he was the Lord. 13 Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave some of it to his disciples. He did the same with the fish. 14 This was the third time that Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from death.
Read these scriptures again.
Are you Peter? Can’t wait for the boat to get to shore? Are you John? One of the others? Why don’t you dare ask Jesus who He is when deep down you know it is Him?
It seems like the disciples wanted to see Jesus but they didn’t want to see Jesus. Are you able to relate to this “push/pull” experience? Sit with the Spirit and think about this story and your experience so far.
Read the scriptures for the third and last time.
As you are there, Jesus offers you fish and bread that He prepared for you. What is going on in you as you receive food from Him around that fire? Is there something you want to ask? Is there something that makes you resist wanting to truly see Him in this place? What might you be afraid of? At this point, you can start to relate what you are experiencing in this imaginative gospel contemplation to your own life. Talk to God about it.
On behalf of Jesus
I know that it is easy to go back to what you know when I have disappointed you or when grief and loss roll over you like a high sea wave. It’s hard to know what to do when everything changes and any direction seems very obscure. I get it that faith is like nailing down Jell-O at times. It’s okay, I will call you back to me. I know that you need me to do this. You need me to gather you back to the resurrection, to remember that I am alive and you are alive too…not wandering about aimlessly. Come and gather around the warm fire of the Spirit, eat the bread that I offer you, be reminded of the supernatural ways that I break into your empty nets.
Photo by Michał Mancewicz-Unsplash