Yr C ~ Easter 3 ~ John 21:1-17
Ok, let’s just call it what it is. This is a wonderfully weird reading! It’s all over the place, there are about 5 different themes in it, people say and do baffling things, and it ends on such a bizarre note that I left a couple of verses out this morning.
The scholarly consensus is that this chapter was probably added in sometime after the rest of the book was written, and perhaps by a, shall we say, less gifted writer. This doesn’t faze me in the slightest. My lens for reading the bible is that it reveals deep truths about people’s experience of the Presence of God in their lives and their interpretation of events. It’s like reading someone’s diary – absolutely true, very personal, but not the ideal place for objective, factual information. The community that produced the gospel of John decided this needed to be added. That makes it interesting to me! So let’s have a look at this weird and wonderful text.
The story is about a third appearance of Jesus to the disciples after his resurrection. The first two were in the upper room, one without Thomas and one with, and now he’s present again for this one. Here’s the first weird bit. Do you remember the first season of Gilligan’s Island and how the theme song named 5 of the 7 castaways? Gilligan, the Skipper too, the millionaire and his wife, the movie star, and the rest! (They changed it in the second season and the professor and Mary Anne got their due.) In our passage today 5 disciples get named and then there were two others. Perhaps it was the professor and Mary Ann!
In verse 3 we learn they’re fishing – so it’s back to business as usual – and apparently business is bad because they can’t catch anything. Jesus appears on the shore – 100 yards away so it makes sense they don’t recognize him. Can you easily identify people a football field away?
And this unknown figure says, “Hey, you’re doing it wrong! Try fishing on the other side!”
[sarcastically] “The other side? Wow, what a great idea! We hadn’t thought of that before!”
But they do it, and lo and behold they catch a lot of fish. And in that miraculous moment Peter figures out who’s on shore, puts on his heavy cloak, and jumps into the water and starts swimming. It’s nutty! But I guess he just couldn’t contain himself. I don’t suppose you’ve ever done anything foolish because you were excited, right? read on