Sunday 1st May 2022, Liz Roodhouse

All Age Worship - John 21:1-19

1st May 2022, Third Sunday of Easter

Liz Roodhouse

I have a few items here that have something in common

What do these things have that are alike? Yes it’s the number three. In the second story in today’s reading, there’s something that happens three times.

There are really two stories in today’s reading. One has to do with fish and the other with sheep. Let’s take a look at the fish story first and I want you to remember that some of Jesus’s disciples/friends were expert fishermen. They were expert fishermen and yet they had been fishing all night and hadn’t caught a thing. They must have been very tired when just as it was beginning to get light a person standing on the shore shouted and asked if they had any fish and when they answered ‘No’ he said to them, ‘Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some’. A simple command for them to change the way they were doing things and suddenly their net is full of 153 large fish, and it didn’t break. Their ability to catch fish grew when they followed Jesus’ direction – what can we learn from that?

Jesus was already cooking fish when he shouted to them in the boat – he didn’t need their fish - but he asked them to bring some of the fish they had  caught to him and added them to the fire where he was cooking breakfast. Jesus uses our talents and adds them to the work he is already doing.

Anyone have fish for breakfast this morning?

Now let’s think about the sheep story. Do you remember the disciple Peter? The night that Jesus died, he pretended he didn’t know Jesus even though he’d been his friend for three years. In fact he lied THREE times! (It was in the high priest’s courtyard when Peter was asked three times “You are one of his disciples, aren’t you?”, and answered “I am not.”)

So on the beach walking with Jesus after they’d eaten breakfast how might he have been feeling?  (Guilty, sad, embarrassed, afraid that Jesus is going to be angry with him?) What happened? Was Jesus angry what did he ask Peter?

If he loved him THREE times? The third time Jesus asked him ‘Do you love me?’ Peter is hurt and exasperated and replies, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’

Let’s listen to that bit of the story again.

When 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 I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him. “Tend my sheep.” He said to him a third time. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him a 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.”

Jesus was giving Peter a second chance.  Instead of being angry with Peter, or condemning Peter for disowning Him, and messing up, Jesus gave Peter a chance to put things right. Three times Jesus asked Peter the question: “Do you love me?” Three times Peter was able to say, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus made it possible for Peter’s guilt rucksack to be emptied. (Remove three bricks from the rucksack and put them on the table) Jesus told Peter that He still wanted Peter to follow Him; in fact, Jesus wanted Peter to feed and tend his lambs and sheep – in other words to look after God’s people, the church.

So Peter knew he was forgiven, and that he had a special and important job to do. And do you know what that applies to us too. We are ordinary people like Peter was, who will mess up from time to time. The good news for us is that even when we have messed up, we are forgiven and nothing we’ve done or will do in the future can change that. Jesus still loves us and wants us to be His followers. Our job is to love him in return, to accept his grace and to serve him by taking care of his people. This is an essential task for us and something that pleases God. Let’s look every day for ways we can take care of others and please God.

A prayer to finish -                                                                                                                               

 Dear God
Thank you that you see beyond the limitations of our everyday familiar lives.                                   
You forgive us when we mess up and send us out on new adventures.                                
Help us to say with Peter, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you,”
and then to have the courage to step out boldly where you are leading.
Amen.