Gospel: John 21:1-19
1After [he appeared to his followers in Jerusalem,] 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 not know 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. 7That 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 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.”
Alone, unsure of what tomorrow will bring. Uncertain of what TODAY will bring. Peter and the disciples find themselves back at square one. Back to Galilee. Back to the Sea. Peter says “I’m going fishing.” Back to what is familiar, what is natural, what he once was good at doing.
Maybe Peter is trying to forget the past few days. If you remember, things had not gone well at all. Still in his mind he can see Jesus standing across the courtyard of the officials at a distance. Still in his mind the smell of the charcoal fire that early morning – that Good Friday. Still in his mind he can hear the people asking him “Aren’t you one of his followers?” Still in his mind the sound of his own voice “I swear, I don’t KNOW the man!” Still in his mind the sharp light of dawn shedding light on his denial. Still in his mind the sound of the cock crowing. And every morning since, the rooster’s rude alarm reminds him.
And yet, still in his mind, the empty tomb, and the news that Jesus has risen from the dead. If Jesus IS risen, what does that mean for Peter? What next? Peter decides it might be wise for him to brush up on his fishing skills. But after a full night of fishing – they caught nothing. “Can’t we do anything right?” they must have wondered? What next?
God gives Peter a second chance.
God is not only a God of second chances, but also the third, fourth and fifth chances. The good news of the Gospel is that even though we hit the bottom in our relationship with God because we are sinners, Jesus' death and resurrection gives us another chance to be his children and to live as his children because of the cross and the empty tomb.
So what about you? How do you respond when Jesus asks, “Do you love me?” Even when our words and actions say NO, God doesn’t give up on us. Always loving, and always forgiving. Just like Peter.
God wants you back where you belong – in a loving relationship with God and others. God created us to love and worship God, and love and serve one another – to feed and tend to God’s sheep. Not just to love, but to live out that love by following where God leads.
Next time you are hard on yourself because you failed in some way, or you are down on someone because they have failed you and hurt you, remember how God has given you a second chance.
Yes, God gives you a second chance. Now THAT is GRACE!
Let us pray: Thank you for today, a day in which we get another chance to live as you created us. Thank you for your grace. May we remember it is about you, not me! We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.