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The Appearances of the Risen Jesus
Invited Into the Story
John goes back to storytelling, with these words:
Now if that isn’t an invitation to listen to a story, I guess you’ll need a banjo and a Beverley Hillbillies theme song!
John tells us right up front what we are about to see: Jesus will reveal himself to his disciples, again.
But there is a different setting this time.
The first appearance was to Mary Magdalene outside the tomb.
Then he appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaus, where they recognized him in the breaking of bread.
Mary had already run to tell the disciples that she had seen the Lord.
The two disciples that hurried back to Jerusalem in the evening told the rest that they had seen the Lord.
It makes no sense to our minds and emotions that the dead rise from the grave, even if it is something we hope for so dearly when we lose someone we love.
And they all loved Jesus.
That’s why the ones who hadn’t had the experience didn’t believe the eyewitnesses at first.
Not until Jesus showed up in the upper room to 10 of the 11 Apostles that were left and the other disciples that were there.
But of course we know that Thomas was told later that they had seen the Lord, and he refused to believe.
Until 8 days later, on a Monday night — that’s the first day of the week plus 8 — Thomas was there when Jesus showed up again and invited him to see, touch and believe.
That’s when Thomas proclaimed the great truth of Jesus: He said “My Lord and my God!”.
That’s a giant leap from what the others said when they called him Lord and Master.
Directions to Go Home
Now, the only record we have of the next several days is what shows up in Matthew 28:1-10, when the group of women including Mary and the other Mary went to the tomb, experienced the earthquake when the angel rolled the stone away, told them “He is not here, He is risen” The angel then said they should tell his disciples that he had risen and will be there in Galilee.
They were on their way to do just that, when Jesus met them in the garden.
“Then Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid.
Go and tell my brothers to leave for Galilee, and they will see me there.””
Then we read in Matthew 28:16, “The eleven disciples traveled to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had directed them.”
Now they are back to home territory, in Galilee.
While John did the reader’s digest version that abruptly has them in Jerusalem and suddenly in Galilee, Matthew told that they traveled there, and then compresses what happens before they meet Jesus on the mountain.
It was somewhere between 85-100 miles to Galilee.
That’s nearly a week’s walk for the boys.
But they were used to travel on foot.
That means that, since this was a work day, it was probably the next Sunday or Monday they arrived.
So a week since Jesus appeared them last in the upper room.
We know that Jesus would spend 40 days meeting with and teaching his followers after the resurrection and until his ascension into the clouds.
So we are now at 15 days past the resurrection.
Only 25 more days to go.
But first, these men that Jesus had been preparing to spread the Gospel were lost.
Lost in their confusion, lost in their purpose, lost in despair and depression.
What do you do when you don’t know what to do?
Going Back to The Familiar.
Unless you have good reason to stay away, the best place to be when you don’t know where to be is where it’s familiar.
They were back in Galilee because Jesus told them to go.
Now what.
Without their leader, what would they do?
John tells us that there were seven of them together.
So probably Matthew, who was Judean, Simon the Zealot, and maybe Bartholomew weren’t with them.
Here’s the list:
So we have Simon Peter, Thomas (or Didymus–that’s what everyone called him, anyway), Nathanael of Cana, James and his brother John bar Zebedee, and 2 others.
Any guesses?
They are disciples.
They know fishing.
They were probably Galilean.
Best guess, anyone?
Let’s be clear.
We are just guessing.
But Andrew was Peter’s brother, and he and Philip got along; and it was Philip that went to get Nathanael to met Jesus.
John 1 says Philip was from the same town as Peter and Andrew, according to John 1:43.
So the easy choice is that Philip and Andrew were the other two.
But they were most all Galilean, so James the little guy-actually the son of Alphaeus, Bartholomew, and the other Simon, the activist (or Zealot, it says in scripture).
Simon Peter now takes the lead:
Going Fishing
and here comes the phrase that makes me think there was some despair and depression along with their sense of loss:
John 21:3a ““I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them.
“We’re coming with you,” they told him.”
Well, so much for the mission.
But hey, I’m sure by now cash was running low.
And fishing is what Peter did.
And James and John.
And probably the others.
Only one reason Simon Peter would have let them on the boat for fishing.
They must be fishermen.
They knew how to handle the boat, or how to throw or gather or mend the nets, and how to choose good fishing spots for the evening.
So my choice is still Andrew and Philip for the other two who aren’t named.
Fishing Wasn’t Working
It’s been said that the Gospels never record that Simon Peter, a professional fisherman in Galilee, ever caught a fish unless Jesus was there.
That seems to be true within the Gospel stories.
John 21:3b (ESV)
3 ... They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
But of course, this is not a full picture of Peter’s fishing career.
It is clear that Peter is in charge–He has always been in charge, when it comes to his boat and his fishing business.
To get that many men on the boat to go fishing for profit simply means that there was a crew, and Peter was captain.
Or so I imagine it.
Remember, we are invited into the story.
Let’s let the story of this adventure gain some traction in our hearts and minds.
Next in the story, . . .
Someone Wants Fish
With so much hard work and nothing to show for it, the discouragement was getting worse, not better.
But fishing can be like that.
Boom or bust.
Full nets or empty nets..
And what we have now is not helping.
He might just as well asked them if the sun was rising.
A fishing boat with no fish in it rides pretty high in the water.
But, or course, assuming the man on the shore was asking a straight-forward market question so he could have fresh fish for breakfast, the boys called back “No.”
If you want any fish today, you better go along and find someone with better luck than to somewhere else.
But then this land-lubber got in their business–almost literally.
He decided to tell the professional fishermen how and where to fish.
Try the other side
which seems like a stupid idea at this time of the morning.
Night’s for fishing.
Daylight’s for cleaning and drying the catch, finding buyers and fixing nets.
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