Third Sunday of Easter – Series C
The texts for today are powerful, perhaps as strong as they get in the pericope system. I often find that when a particularly potent Gospel text is chosen, this will be paired with other potent texts. This creates a bit of a problem for the pericope preacher – but it also gives an opportunity. Use all the texts! Today we have Saul’s “conversion” text, Johns vision of heaven in Rev. 5 from which we draw the great Easter hymn “This is the Feast,” and finally the Gospel reading we are looking at, Jesus revealing Himself to the disciples in Galilee and the restoration of Peter.
We start with the Gospel but cannot but see the other texts. John, Peter, and the rest of the disciples are fishing one night, but catch nothing. A voice from the shore at dawn urges them to cast on the other side. The catch is remarkable, and John immediately makes the connection. “It is the Lord!” He is over there! Peter is our reaction. We cannot forget that just a chapter or two earlier Peter had denied Christ. This fact is looming over this encounter. Peter’s hasty disembarkation is likely to have a private conversation with Lord and friend he had denied a short while before. His equally dramatic hauling of the fish up to the shore by himself seems to reveal the potency of what Jesus said Peter. The preacher who pursues this line may want to contrast with Judas’ own despair and its resultant suicide. Peter turns to Christ and lives.
But then we have Peter’s restoration, his public restoration. This is the closest I think we come to Jesus describing the office of public ministry. Feed and tend my sheep. Suffer for me. Follow me. But it is a man whom Jesus sent out that day, a flawed and humbled man. Together they ate. Peter’s embrace of the Lord must have been soaking wet.