Lectionary Text for the Third Sunday of Easter:
I will extol you, O LORD, for you have drawn me up
and did not let my foes rejoice over me.
2 O LORD my God, I cried to you for help,
and you have healed me.
3 O LORD, you brought up my soul from Sheol,
restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit.
4 Sing praises to the LORD, O you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
5 For his anger is but for a moment;
his favor is for a lifetime.
Weeping may linger for the night,
but joy comes with the morning.
6 As for me, I said in my prosperity,
‘I shall never be moved.’
7 By your favor, O LORD,
you had established me as a strong mountain;
you hid your face;
I was dismayed.
8 To you, O LORD, I cried,
and to the LORD I made supplication:
9 ‘What profit is there in my death,
if I go down to the Pit?
Will the dust praise you?
Will it tell of your faithfulness?
10 Hear, O LORD, and be gracious to me!
O LORD, be my helper!’
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing;
you have taken off my sackcloth
and clothed me with joy, 12so that my soul may
praise you and not be silent.
O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
John 21:1-19: “After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
9 When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ A second time he said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.’ 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, ‘Follow me.”
Third Sunday of Easter Comment: While attending a retreat a discussion arose about the pain and sorrow of living. Many reasons were given and they were all legitimate. Someone also reminded the group that there are comparable experiences of living that are full of pleasure and joy. Finally, with a sigh came this comment, “It is the way it is,” meaning that life presents these’ ‘opposites’.
In Psalm 30, David who once experienced illness is now praising God for healing. David continues to express poetically the theme of opposites with the words, “Weeping may linger for the night but joy comes with the morning.” v.5b
Peter, a disciple of Jesus surely lived and experienced many ‘opposites’ while following Jesus. He rejoiced in seeing God work many miracles and grew to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah. Peter also experienced the depths of grief and despair when he denied any association with Jesus and then to see Jesus suffer and die such a terrible death. But now on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias, the pendulum is about to swing towards the joy of living.
I have read John 21 many times and I know the poignant questions Jesus will ask Peter at the end of the passage (v. 15-19). It is clear that Jesus is taking Peter to a new level personal reflection and commitment. But this time while reading I was drawn to how I believe Jesus prepared Peter for this new mission. Jesus began with the familiar. In Luke 5:1-11 we read Peter left all to follow Jesus after catching fish in the same manner as described in v. 3-6. With this reminder from Jesus, the pendulum swung from dismay to delight. Peter’s LORD was there, with him once again.
It is in the spiritual condition of delight that Jesus invites Peter to come up a little higher. It is from the familiar (catching fish) that Jesus woos Peter to step into the unfamiliar. Jesus asks, “…Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” v.15. Founded on a deeper dimension of mutual love, Jesus commissions Peter to feed and tend his ‘lambs and sheep’, the church soon to be born at Pentecost.
So what ‘lesson of life’ can we glean from this perspective? Consider that God is the God of balance. Yes, God takes us from one level of relationship and service to the next in painful times. Now, consider also that a ‘resurrection view of life’ sees times of joy and delight and gladness as indicators of God escorting us on a new journey to a new dimension. For certain we will experience the bitter and sweet ‘opposites’ but always in the presence of God’s love for us and our love for God.
You have turned my mourning into dancing…so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to you forever. Psalm 30:11-12
Easter Season Blessings,
©April 13, 2010
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