SCRIPTURES – Acts 9:1-22; Rev. 5:1-14; John 21:1-14; Psalm 145
Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
There are all kinds of cooking shows on TV. You can learn how to make nutritious meals in 30 minutes or less, or how to make great desserts. One program features various Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and the great food they offer. A favorite show in my house is Chopped, in which four chefs are pitted against each other. They’re given the same ingredients and the same amount of time to prepare a dish. Those who prepare the best dishes move on, while the worst is chopped.
Meals can reveal a lot about a cook. Do they reveal anything about those for whom they are prepared? The simple meal of fish and bread that Jesus prepared for His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias does.
Jesus prepared this meal a couple of weeks after He had risen from the dead. Seven of His disciples were together about 80 miles north of Jerusalem, by the Sea of Tiberias. But, they didn’t seem to know what to do. Why the confusion?
Well, on the day Jesus rose from the dead the first ones to find out were the women who went to His tomb. An angel was there who told them that He had risen, and they were to tell His disciples to go to Galilee, for Jesus would meet them there. As they went Jesus Himself met them and told them the same thing. Later that day Jesus appeared to His disciples as they were gathered together in Jerusalem. He forgave their sins; explained why He had to die and rise from the dead; consecrated them as His witnesses; and told them to remain in Jerusalem until they had received the Holy Spirit. Then He disappeared. A week later they were still together in Jerusalem and Jesus appeared to them again, this time to show Himself to Thomas and remove his doubts. We heard that story last week. He then disappeared again. His disciples must have been wondering: “Ok, now what? Do we stay here in Jerusalem, as He told us, or do we go to Galilee, as He also told us? What should we do?” They went to Galilee, but were kind of lost – which was very understandable. They had to process what had transpired over the last few weeks, from the joy of Palm Sunday to the horror of Good Friday to the miracle of Easter. Where should they go? What should they do? They went fishing; and, as often happens when fishing, they caught nothing.
Jesus then appeared to them again. First, He fished for them and directed a great catch of fish into their nets. Then, He prepared a meal for them. He didn’t need to do so. They should have done so for Him, for He was the risen Lord, the mighty ruler of life and death! But, He came among them as a humble servant.
He remains so to this day. Jesus is the mighty Lord of all creation, the great God before whom the holy angels themselves bow down, as we see in our reading from Revelation 5. We, too, must bow down before Him and proclaim, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” Those who don’t, or won’t, do so deserve to be chopped; and, when He returns in glory to judge the living and the dead, they will be chopped.
The thing we all need to realize is that we all deserve to be chopped. Don’t ever be full of yourself and think that you can boast before God about who you are and what you have done with the list of ingredients – the life – that He has given you. The apostle John heard an angel in heaven ask: "Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?" No one was found to be worthy. Remember: Jesus didn’t die for you because you’re good, but because you’re not! Our sins are so bad, so evil in God’s sight and so corrupting of us, that nothing we can do can make up for them, outweigh them, or keep us from committing them. If we could do these things, Jesus would not have had to come to bear our sins and die for them. God didn’t send His Son because you are so good, but because He is! “The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made,” says Psalm 145:9. This goodness and mercy is seen above all in Jesus Christ.
Think of Jesus as a chef. Now, perhaps a meal of bread and fish doesn’t seem too impressive. But, what would you think of a chef who prepares a meal for which he will not be paid? Which no one has made him prepare, but which he prepares gladly and freely, of his own volition? What would you think of a chef who keeps on doing this, and does so simply because he loves to feed his guests? That would be quite a chef. That is Jesus!
He had every right to expect His disciples to haul the net ashore and cook a meal for Him. He has every right to expect us to live our lives for Him – and, how blessed we are when we do so! But, even as the risen and ascended Lord He continues to serve us that He might save us and make us His own.
Listen to what today’s readings proclaim about how blessed are those who believe in Jesus and receive His service:
- They are not only ransomed – saved from their enemies – but are also brought into God’s kingdom as valued members of it. “By your blood you ransomed people for God and made them a kingdom and priests to our God.” (Rev. 5)
- To touch Christ’s believers is to touch Christ Himself. “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” says Jesus to Saul. His people are His own flesh, His very body! We are never apart from Him.
- Christ will make even fish jump into nets for the sake of His people, if this is His desire. All creation must serve you, for Jesus is the Lord of creation!
- The resurrected Jesus chooses to serve us. He feeds His disciples with fish He has prepared for them; He feeds us with His body and blood in Holy Communion, the meal of salvation He has given to us. The Lord of all gladly serves as our baker, and never tires of doing so! May we never tire of receiving His food.
No person or creature in heaven or on earth has been so blessed as are you in Christ. Remember this, and give thanks to God for who you are and what you receive in Christ!
Martin Luther, in his treatise “The Freedom of the Christian,” sums things up very well:
- “Although I am an unworthy and condemned man, my God has given me in Christ all the riches of righteousness and salvation without any merit on my part, out of pure, free mercy, so that from now on I need nothing except faith which believes that this is true. Why should I not therefore freely, joyfully, with all my heart, and with an eager will do all things which I know are pleasing and acceptable to such a Father who has overwhelmed me with his inestimable riches? I will therefore give myself as a Christ to my neighbor, just as Christ offered himself to me; I will do nothing in this life except what I see is necessary, profitable, and salutary to my neighbor, since through faith I have an abundance of all good things in Christ…
As our heavenly Father has in Christ freely come to our aid, we also ought freely to help our neighbor through our body and its works, and each one should become as it were a Christ to the other that we may be Christs to one another and Christ may be the same in all, that is, that we may be truly Christians.” (LW 31:367-368)
We are not chopped – not now, not ever! – but are Christians, the blessed of God in Christ. We are not only fed by Him continually; we are made to be His body, chefs like Him! How amazing is the love of God in Christ! And, how amazing it is to be His people, Christ’s chefs on this hungry earth. All to the praise of our good and gracious Father in heaven. Amen.