Between His resurrection and His ascension, Jesus had some “candid conversations” with his disciples. These conversations that were meant to be a bit of a revelation to us about what his new world – the new world that began with his crucifixion and resurrection – would look like. It wasn’t about a new religion – it was about a whole new reality and a new life of discovery for those who choose to follow him.
1. Letting Go of What I Think Got Me Here (John 21:1-6)
- As instructed, after the Resurrection several of the disciples went back to Galilee. While waiting there, they went fishing (at Peter’s prompting) – most likely to make some money while they tried to figure out what was next. They fished all night, but caught nothing – until Jesus joined them in the morning…
- One of the keys to “the life of discovery” that Jesus offers us is letting go of our old ways of doing things. In fact, we can’t discover his way – the way of his new world – unless we let go of our way.
- Like he did that morning with the disciples, Jesus often “pokes us” with a question – a question that’s meant to contrast our way with his way. For the disciples, it was “How’s the fishing going?” – in other words, “How’s your way of doing things working out for you?” He promises a beautiful, full life of discovery, then asks simply: “Are you ready to give up your way to have my way – the way of life?”
2. Seeing Jesus As He Is (John 21:7-14)
- When the disciples first saw Jesus on the beach, they didn’t recognize him. It wasn’t until after he gave them the miraculous catch of fish that they saw clearly who he was. Once they did, and once they hauled in their net full of fish, Jesus taught them 3 lessons about his new world – over breakfast:
a. God Doesn’t Need My Fish (John 21:9) – If we read the story closely, we find that Jesus already had breakfast waiting for the disciples to eat when they got to the beach. It turns out that he didn’t need their fish – he already had his own. As God works in the world, he’s happy to have us use our gifts and talents to serve along with him – but he doesn’t need them because his work doesn’t depend on us. That truth should take all the pressure off us; we don’t have to “perform.”
b. Jesus is Alive and Well (John 21:12) – For whatever reason, the disciples didn’t fully recognize Jesus when they saw him – but they knew it was him after the miracle. They knew he was fully alive – physically resurrected as a human being. This is critical, because it reminds us that the God of the universe is real and present and alive with us – not just an “idea,” a “concept” or a “force.”
c. The Grace of Breakfast (John 21:13-14) – After all he’d been through with the torture of the crucifixion and the pain of his disciples’ abandoning him, Jesus responded by… making them breakfast. While they were running away and trying to figure things out on their own, he was waiting to love and serve them with his grace. He waits to love and serve us in the same way, no matter how far we’ve run. His grace is always waiting for us – like breakfast on the beach.
These passages may provide additional insights related to the subject of this week’s message. All verses are NLT unless otherwise noted.
Matthew 16:24-26; John 12:23-26; 1 Corinthians 15:12-20; Ephesians 2:8-10; Revelation 1:17-18; 3:20
Video of the Week: Visual Commentary: Psalm 8 by the Bible Project
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
1. As you consider your own experience with the Christian faith, would you say that it’s been more about practicing a religion or about living out a whole new way of life? Or perhaps both? Explain your answer.
2. When faced with a bit of uncertainty, Peter went back to what was comfortable – fishing. Why do you think many of us are so prone to slip back into our “comfortable” old ways instead of the life Jesus is calling us to – even when we know that “comfortable” won’t lead us to the full life he promises?
3. Read John 21:1-6 again. Jesus asked the disciples a question he already knew the answer to (“have you caught any fish?”) to “poke” them into seeing the futility of trying to do things their way, by their own strength. What are some ways that he “pokes” us today to show us the same thing?
4. If God doesn’t need our help in accomplishing his plan for the world, why are we still called to serve him (and his purposes) with our gifts and talents and abilities? What’s the point of that?
5. Why is it so important to believe and understand that Jesus was fully alive and well (in a physical human body) after the Resurrection? What are the implications of that truth for us?
6. Read John 21:12-13 again. As you picture that scene on the beach over breakfast, how do you envision Jesus and his attitude toward the disciples? Is that the same way you picture God the Father as you interact with him? Why or why not?
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