John 21:1–19, Isaiah 43:1–12
We often stop with the Resurrection of Easter. That’s the big event. It’s understandable. It wasn’t the end of the bodily resurrection of Jesus. Often when we are stressed or unsure of ourselves, we return to old habits. Peter’s old habit was fishing (it was his occupation, too). It was quite simple, and probably even automatic, to go back to fishing. It was something solid, earthly. It was also something to do. Scripture implies that Peter wasn’t the calmest and patient person. It doesn’t take much imagination to hear Peter’s frustration and restlessness coming to a boil…, “I’m going fishing.”
Next, we read a very similar encounter with too many fish being pulled up. You can easily imagine someone smacking their head when they make the connection.
Then Jesus asks Peter 3 times about feeding his (Jesus’) sheep. The context of taking care of those that followed Jesus was obviously important to Jesus. Jesus was important to Peter. The 3 times was both admonishment and intimate. Peter was, it seemed, the new servant-leader. Peter just wanted Jesus. Not that many days ago in Peter’s journey, he denied Jesus 3 times, fell asleep while called to pray with Jesus, left Jesus to die. There is something about this particular encounter that was much more than “just” the resurrection. This was restoration.
Restoration is a common theme in scripture. Isaiah called on the people. Announcing that God would restore and reconcile. Granted, maybe not in the way they wanted. It is unlikely that Peter would have chosen to be reconciled to Jesus the way he was. Reconciliation can truly be extraordinarily painful. Peter experienced it. Israel experienced it. Yet, when we come to reconciliation we often flee the pain. Beyond the pain is a new life.
1) Peter ran away (and other stuff). The people of Israel were almost destroyed. Reconciliation was on the other side. What is different, and what is the same in these two different times?
2) Theologians have vigorously discussed the 3 admonishments by Jesus to Peter. What do you think they mean, and why are they important?
3) Sometimes people need space and practices to process what has happened to them. Do you ever need that? Do you know people who need that? How do you process events?