Today's Lectionary Text
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.
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 sea. 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.
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 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.
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.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
In our readings today we hear Jesus give the invitation again to his disciples. The invitation is to come and follow Him, our resurrected Christ! The invitation is the same today as it was yesterday and as it was so long ago when he first invited Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, and others to go fishing on the other side of the boat. He offered the invitation to send the nets into new waters and they cast the net out. The net was so very full they were unable to bring it back into the boat!
Imagine if we were to actually listen and set our nets out into new water … to dare to dream of new ministries and new places where we might “fish” and find our nets so very full we could not even bring them in. Perhaps that is the point of this passage. Not just to fish for people, or even to trust God enough to go fishing, but to venture out into new waters for the fish Jesus has called us to find and feed.
At this time of the Easter season folks are excited and ready to head out. We should be issuing the invitation to go fishing! For many of our clergy, we are preparing to venture out with new nets to new waters, and perhaps those of us staying in the same boat need to also answer this great invitation to throw the net to the other side of the boat. To minister not to those only safely in our boathouse or the easy waters, but to throw the net of ministry deep and wide.
I read recently in the Upper Room Worship Book (page 143) a beautiful poem/song called “Come Follow Me.” The verses remind us the grace of God is like a road, the voice of God is like the wind, the strength of God is like a stone, the hope of God is like the sun, the love of God is like a stream, and the peace of God is like a friend. This poem/song reminds us that the Spirit calls, “Come follow me.” Perhaps now is the right time and the right season to cast out our nets in faith and in ministry as we come follow Jesus’s invitation to seek new waters and fish. Come. Follow. Me. Amen!
--Pastor Jo Ellen Axthelm
Seward, Nebraska, UMC
Prayer for Reflection
Lord, help us listen closely to you so we know where you want to lead us. Help us to be willing to fish in New waters and in new places. Help us to see your love and grace all around us as we venture out of the boathouse and into the deep and wide with you. In your precious and holy name we say and pray together. Amen!
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