Summary: John's account of a fishing expedition shows us how we can make the resurrection real in our lives.
This morning we’re gathered here to celebrate the most significant event in the history of mankind – the resurrection of Jesus. In fact, that event is so important that if it is not true, we are all wasting our time here today. Paul hits the nail on the head with these words from 1 Corinthians 15:
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins.
1 Corinthians 1517 (ESV)
If the resurrection of Jesus is not true, then our faith and our worship here this morning are indeed futile and we might as well just wrap things up right now, eat some breakfast and return to our day-to-day lives just like the resurrection never happened. And if we did that, we’d be in good company because that’s exactly what some of Jesus’ closest friends tried to do shortly after the resurrection. In just a moment, we’ll read that account and see what we can learn about Jesus’ unfailing, persistent love for us and how that ought to impact our lives.
Our challenge this morning is not so much to try and prove that the resurrection occurred, but rather to see how the reality of that event should impact the way that we live our lives on a daily basis.
A Harris poll taken in December 2009 found that 70% of all Americans believe in the resurrection of Jesus. And just the fact that you are here this morning makes it even more likely that you share in that belief. So I’m not going to spend our time, even though it would be quite easy to do, to present you with the evidence that would prove the resurrection of Jesus as historical fact. Instead, as is my normal custom each Easter, I’d like for us to explore together how that historical event impacted the lives of those who experienced the resurrection in person and how it ought to impact our lives nearly 2,000 years later.
This morning I’ll be reading from the gospel of John. Since John was the only one of the four gospel writers who was an eyewitness of the events that he records, his accounts are full of many details that are not present in the other gospels. We’ll see that this morning as I read the first 14 verses from John chapter 21:
1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 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.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on 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 of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
John 21:1-14 (ESV)
This event takes place some time after the resurrection of Jesus. This is now the third time Jesus has appeared to the disciples. The first time was on the evening of His resurrection. Then he had appeared to them eight days later, when Thomas was present. Both of those appearances had taken place in or near Jerusalem. This third appearance occurs at the Sea of Galilee, which is identified here by its Roman name of the Sea of Tiberias. The disciples had gone there because Jesus had commanded them to go to Galilee and wait for Him there. (Matthew 29:10, 16)