Third Sunday of Easter
In today’s Gospel reading, time has passed since Jesus’ postresurrection appearances around Jerusalem. Jesus’ disciples have made their way to the Sea of Tiberias. “I am going fishing,” says Peter, and the others join him. After the trauma of Jesus’ trial, crucifixion, and burial; after he shock and mystery of Jesus’ resurrection; and lacking any postresurrection instructions from Jesus, perhaps the disciples have just gone back to what they know—what they did before they began following Jesus. This often seems true of people who’ve experienced periods of great stress; they revert to old ways.
Many of us have recently observed a season of preparation in Lent, recounted the events of Jesus’ passion in our Readings for Holy Week, and energetically celebrated Easter Sunday. Now, two weeks later, we may be tempted to go back to what we’ve known, what we did before. But that would be a mistake. We are an Easter people. Easter is not an end, but a beginning—at the very least, a renewal.
In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus’ instructions for moving forward after Easter Day: “Feed my lambs…Tend my sheep…Feed my sheep…Follow me.” These instructions, for those disciples gathered again around a simple meal of bread and fish, are also for us.
The night of fishing was unproductive for those disciples, without Jesus’ help. Abundance was found in following Jesus’ directions. Their catch was well beyond their own needs. So it is with us, when we follow Jesus and his commands. In following him, there is a particular abundance that cannot be found without him, an abundance well beyond our own means and needs, to be shared broadly in Jesus’ name.
Walter Bishop, pastor, Hopewell Moravian Church
Winston-Salem, North Carolina