Material for Worship on 3rd Sunday of Easter, 1st May 2022

Peter said, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”  

This morning as you prepare for worship and light a candle reflect for a minute on what loving Jesus means to you.   This morning our passage from the gospel of John chapter 21 verses 1 to 19 is the one chapter of the Bible that I love the most.   It has always been special to me and more so since 2018 when Sandy and I went on pilgrimage to the Holy Land.   I was privileged to be asked to celebrate the Eucharist on the shore of the Sea of Galilee (or Tiberius) at Tabgha and it was very special and emotional.

We are all so familiar with this part of the story, disciples fishing – they can’t catch any fish – Jesus standing on the shore shouting, “Children, you have no fish, have you?”  – then the order to cast the nets to the right side of the boat and the hauling in of many, many fish.  If we use this as an analogy for disciples of Jesus fishing for lost souls and not catching any, it’s a bit like the church today.   Many churches struggle to bring new people into the church to teach them about Jesus, and maybe, like the disciples that day, they are casting their nets in the wrong direction.   The church, over the centuries, hasn’t changed very much.   Its traditions and liturgies perhaps don’t reflect our modern day thinking and we may have lost the ability to adapt or to appeal to the young people of today’s modern world.  However, I do think that there is room in this world for different styles of worship to work alongside each other, the more traditional and the more modern both have much to offer in spirituality and in teaching, but it does make you think that just by casting their nets to the other side than that of tradition, the disciples were able to haul in many fish.

At first the disciples didn’t recognise Jesus from their position in the boat out on the Sea, but when they heard His voice, the disciple whom Jesus loved knew that it was him.   In the tenth chapter of the gospel of John, verses 14 and 15 we hear, “I am the good shepherd.   I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.   And I lay down my life for the sheep.”

The boat was about a hundred yards from the shore, with the sun shining it would be difficult for the disciples to see exactly who was on the shore, and likewise it would be difficult for someone on the shore to know that the disciples had not caught any fish.   So how did Jesus know that their nets were empty?   Throughout the New Testament there are examples of Jesus knowing that something was going to happen before it did.   Jesus knew everything and knows everything.   This theme of Jesus “knowing everything” is woven throughout the stories of Jesus. For example, before it happened, Jesus knew he was going to suffer and be “lifted up” onto a Roman cross.   He knew by what kind of death he was going to die.   He also knew in advance that he was going to be raised on the third day.  The gospels tell us that Jesus knew everything, including that the disciples didn’t have any fish in their boat even if they were a hundred yards offshore.

This resurrection story of Jesus on the shore with His disciples is about Peter, who previously denied Jesus three times, and who will now be asked three times by Jesus, “Do you love me?”   Two charcoal fires, two encounters featuring Peter – a chance to repent and the offering of forgiveness.  The scene progresses with the invitation to sit down and eat breakfast with Jesus and once again, just as in a previous resurrection appearance, fish is eaten with bread.   It’s as if Jesus is saying to them, “look, I can eat fish and bread, I have been raised from death, I haven’t left you.   Even when I go to my Father, I will still be with you.”

Now we come to the crux of the story, the ‘main event’ so to speak.   Jesus speaks to Simon Peter and says, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”   What are the ‘more than these?’   Boats, nets, fish, food, family, friends!  I suspect that Jesus was referring to all these things that were there with Simon Peter that morning on the shore.  At this point, ask yourself, why did Peter deny Jesus three times in that courtyard?   Wasn’t it to protect himself, to protect his own life?   Wasn’t it because he instinctively didn’t want to die?  And if so, why didn’t he want to die?  Perhaps, like all of us, Peter loved life, and everything that goes with it, like family and friends, fish and boats and everything else that brought him happiness.   Peter loved his life, and he didn’t want to die.   It’s as simple as that, and I think this is why Peter denied Jesus three times in the first place.   He loved the things of life much more than the possibility of his premature death.  The third and final time that Jesus says to Peter, ‘Simon son of John; do you love me?”  Peter feels hurt.   Peter says to Jesus, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’   And there in that sentence is the crux of the matter, Jesus does know everything. Jesus instructs Peter, ‘Feed my sheep.’   It’s what shepherds do, feed the sheep.   It’s what ministers do, feed the sheep and care for them, minister to them.   The shepherd is to feed and care for the flock.  We are to do this as we come together each week and as we interact with each other not only on Sundays but through the week as well.   We are to spiritually feed each other with the Bread and Wine in the Eucharist, with the Presence of Jesus in that Bread and Wine, with the bread of His new life.  Jesus knows everything…including the death by which Peter was going to die, by Roman crucifixion.  By being lifted up onto the cross.   Jesus knew that eventually in his old age, Simon Peter was going to die by crucifixion, and it did come true.  After this Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me.’   That is what the resurrected Jesus wants from Peter and from you and me.   Jesus showed His persistence in asking Peter three times ‘Do you love me?’ and He continues to ask us the same question.   He also never gives up asking us to ‘Follow Him’ and to feed His sheep.   God knows when we are being true to Him and following in His ways, after all, He does know everything.   Amen.


For your prayers this morning you might like to think about the things that are important in your life and ask God to help you to include him in your daily life.

Pray for those who have strayed from their faith that God would lead them back to him.

Pray for the hungry and the homeless that they would be fed by God working in the lives of those who reach out to help.

Pray for all who minister to their flock that God would feed them also.

Pray for the community of Dunblane, for its outreach and for its churches.

May God Bless you this coming week in all that you do and say, so that you might, by your example, lead others to believe in our resurrected Lord.