Summary: A sermon to a group of seminary students on fishing and discipleship.
A Sermon by Roger Shervington
San Francisco Theological Seminary, Southern CaliforniaJohn 21:1-19
Good evening. Our New Testament reading from the lectionary this evening chronicles the final post-resurrection appearance of the risen Lord in the Gospel of John. Let’s listen to Godƒs word to us.
II. Scripture: John 21:1-19 (NRSV)
1After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. 2Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. 3Simon 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.
4Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did know not that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, "Children, you have no fish, have you?" They answered him, "No." 6He 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. 9That 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. 8But 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.
9When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." 11So 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. 12Jesus 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. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15When 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." 16A 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." 17He said to him for 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. 18Very 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." 19(He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."
This is the Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
III. Prayer: Please join me in prayer.
Creator God, thank you for calling us together in your name this evening, for the patience of our instructors, and for the support of our classmates. We ask that you will bless our efforts as we strive to serve you and your creation. We ask this to the glory of your Holy Name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
IV. "Follow Me"
I was raised in the beautiful Eastern Sierra Nevada mountains, "God’s Country," and have spent a significant part of my adult life at sea, sailing, fishing and diving. It is therefore no surprise that I love a good fishing story! And what we have in the first fourteen verses of today’s lectionary reading is one fine fishing story--any fishing story where you actually catch fish is a fine fishing story! But this fine fishing story is about much, much more than spending yet another night at sea in a small boat, wet, exhausted, sore from the constant motion of the boat, and thoroughly frustrated by a lack of fish. The night in this story had just been a boat ride.
But let’s take a look at how this fishing story develops. Let’s look at the events leading to this fruitless night at sea. Let’s look at the fishermen.