Breakfast with the Risen Christ
1. Peter said, ’I am going fishing’, the other seven apostles said, ’we are going with you’ (v 3). There was already a hint that this was planned, in the expression ‘omoû, which means that they were ‘together’ in a more organised form. Despite the fact that Peter had experienced the risen Christ somehow he did not know how to handle such an experience. He was at a loss how to proceed and he simply decided to go back to his old trade, fishing. In other words, what was happening here was nothing less than a desertion from the calling of Christ, it was also a kind of apostacy, an abandonment of a belief or principle. Jesus’ appearance here is decisive for the apostles as well as for the future of the church.
2. As the story unfolds it is like a reversal and a repetition of what happened to the disciples at their calling. Take for example the story in Luke 5.1-11. They were out at night but caught nothing. On Jesus’ word they threw the nets on the other side of the boat and then the catch was too big to handle.
3. And yet things were very different. ‘As the day was breaking’ v 4, Jesus was standing on the shore. But it is now the risen Christ. They first do not recognise him, again it was above all John, the disciple that Jesus loved, and Peter who were actively involved. They were the ones that had entered the empty tomb for example. The expression ‘as the day was breaking’ also indicates that Jesus had to be revealed to his disciples as the risen Christ, it was not enough to learn how to follow him before the crucifixion and the resurrection, only after these two events could they grasp what was going on. Jesus now gave them a new day, a day of new resurrected life.
4. So eventually, through John, the seven disciples realise that they are having Jesus waiting for them on the shore. They hasten to come to him. Peter first, as always, jumps into the water. The others bring the boat and the fish, 153 of them, and they were big. There is a decisive conversation here going on. Jesus asks, have you any fish?, knowing that did not have any. They throw the nets on the right side of the boat and get plenty. Once they were ashore they saw that there already was a charcoal fire going and that there also were fish and bread that must have come there through the efforts of Jesus himself. He nevertheless asks them to bring of their own fish as well. There is a very deep meaning in this fact that Jesus had his own fish and that the new fish that the disciples had caught were separate. It was to show that Jesus, as the risen Christ, still had the ability to provide everything for them; but having done that the own resources would have the same meaning and value, as they were all blessed in his name. one could say that the extraordinary thing was that Jesus here again provided everything as a basis for his church, and that all new resources would be blessed in his name through this meal. He said, ‘come and have breakfast’, and this rather amusing expression now comes to mean a complete renewal of our meals, especially the meal of the Eucharist, as a real door to the Kingdom of God.
5. And at this breakfast, Jesus took, apparently of his own provided resources, the bread and gave it to them, and so also with the fish, v 13. One manuscript also uses the expression, ‘he took bread and gave thanks, and gave it to them’. In this action of Jesus you will recognise the Holy Communion, the Eucharist. This was not an ordinary breakfast, not even a social meal in the early morning, it was a sacramental occasion. Peter and his co-workers, who in fact just the night before had defected from their discipleship back to the old work station and work place, were once again transformed, now for good into being Jesus’ apostles, who would go out into the world as eye witnesses to make known the power of Jesus Christ, through his ministry on earth, through his suffering and cross and, finally, through his glorious resurrection. This was the breakfast with the risen Christ, at dawn in Galilee, at the lake of Tiberias.