Word for the day by Christian Education Forum

 Jesus Christ who restores

John 21:1-14

v5 Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" 

John 21 is a powerful story of a fallen disciple, Peter, being restored by Christ. Peter was chosen by Jesus to be his faithful disciple. Peter emerged as a leading disciple among the group of disciples. In fact, Peter had often promised that he would be faithful to the very end. But sadly, he denied Jesus thrice. Also, in this chapter, he is the one who decides to return back to fishing and his actions prompt many other disciples to follow suit. The man who was chosen to be a disciple to lead others to Christ became the man leading many away from Christ.
Perhaps he had his reasons for doing so. His denial of being in Jesus’s company would have brought him face to face with the ugly side of his own personality. He must have realized that behind the exterior face of bold proclamation of faithfulness to Christ, lay a cowardly, self-preserving man, who would not hesitate to abandon Jesus if confronted about his choices. He would not have realized that Jesus had indeed risen to vindicate his disciples and restore them back to their calling. In this portion Jesus comes seeking his disciples who have strayed away from their calling. He comes as a stranger who stands by the shore asking for some fish from his fishermen disciples who had toiled all night but caught nothing.
This post-resurrection appearance of Jesus and the great catch of fish serves two purposes.

  1. It restores his relationship with his disciples
Jesus’s disciples were now like a sheep without a shepherd, with no proper direction or purpose. They were confused and looked to the future with fear. Also with Jesus’s resurrection the biggest eventuality they feared was having to face Jesus. They would have been afraid of having abandoned him. That is why when Peter realized that it was Jesus beside the shore, he jumped into the water. That was to avoid the possibility of being seen by or having to face Jesus. But Jesus clearly seeks him out as they have breakfast by the shore. Jesus restores each of his disciples back into a relationship with himself. His act of feeding the disciples is a mark of him restoring the disciples back to a relationship with himself.
  1. It re-commissions his disciples to be fishers of men

Instead of rebuking or punishing the disciples, Jesus commissions them. We see it clearly in Jesus’s words to Peter. The qualification that Jesus required for his disciples to be a shepherd to Jesus’s flock is to love Jesus “more than anything these”. That “more than these” would mean more then anything else in the world that can attract the disciples. Even if they had to lose all of those things, if they still loved Jesus, they would be given charge of the flock. This flock of Jesus is his redeemed community. He has redeemed fallen humanity by his death and resurrection and now he re-commissions Peter and the other disciples back to be fishers of men. To be fishers of men was their original calling. As fishers of men they were to redeem and take care of all humanity entrusted into their care.

Lord, I look to you. Draw me close to you, that I may not fall or fail or go astray from you, Amen

In moments that we fall and fail, Jesus is our hope for rising and restoration.

 Rev. Thomas John, Carmel MTC Boston
Christian Education Forum, Diocese of NAE of the Mar Thoma Church

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