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Acts 9:1-6, (7-20)

9:1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.   Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him.  He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  He asked, “Who are you, Lord?” The reply came, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.  But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.”

9:7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one.  Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.  For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.  Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.”   The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.”  But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”

9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”  So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.”

Revelation 5:11-14

5:11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

5:14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the elders fell down and worshiped.

John 21:1-19

21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way.  Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.

21:3 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.  Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

21:5 Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.”  He 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 and your mouse for your not able to haul it in because there were so I am and all rulers and are you doing up open up their case at all many fish.  That 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.

21:8 But 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.   When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.   Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

21:11 So 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.   Jesus 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.

21:13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.

21:14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

21:15 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 that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

21:16 A 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.”

21:17 He 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.

21:18 Very 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.”

21:19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

“What Kind of Fish were They?”
The Rev Dr Dianne Carpenter
John 21:1-19
1 May 2022

Jim had an awful day fishing on the lake, sitting in the blazing sun all day without catching one.  On his way home, he stopped at the supermarket and ordered for catfish.  He told the fish salesman, “pick four large ones out and throw them at me, will you?” “Why do you want me to throw that you?”  “Because I want to tell my wife that I caught them.”  “Okay but I suggest that you take the orange roughy.”  “Why?”  “Because your wife came in earlier today and said that if you came by, I should tell you to take orange roughy.  She prefers that for supper tonight.”

Tiberias… St Peter fish tilapia….

We’re on the beach when it happens, a man arrives and makes a fire….  Produces a loaf of bread and begins to cook some fish.  We cannot see what kind of fish, but it smells sooooo good….

What kind of fish are being cooked?…  What are you hungry for?

Then you see the man stand up and wave to the seven men in a boat out on the lake ….

There is some shouting and then they all come ashore and stand around the fire…

And you enjoy this wonderful, magical moment…..  And suddenly you realize that you feel closer to this assembly than possible because the words: “Taste and see, taste and see the goodness of the Lord” comes into your mind….  And you know their names….  And you remember them: “…  Simon Peter, Thomas called the twin, Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples.”

I love the sacramental nature of this whole scene. Jesus was accustomed to the appetite one would have after a long night’s work.  So, he offered them bread and fish.

But in the offer, Jesus also knew of the deeper hunger that each of the disciples possessed.  Hunger for truth; hunger for the love of God; hunger to know this truly was Jesus, risen and standing before them.  So, just as he had offered himself to them every day of his earthly ministry, just as he offered himself to them from the cross, and just as he offered himself to them in the broken bread of that final Passover meal, Jesus once again offers them himself, the bread of life.

Who are you closest to at this moment; Peter the Denyer, Thomas the doubter, Nathaniel the proud, James and John the sons of Zebedee who had said [according to Mark], “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And Jesus said to them, “What you want me to do for you, and two others…

Jesus has come to give followers the desire of their hearts…  What they most desire and need….  More than breakfast after a hard night’s work…  More than success where there had been a failure at the job….  More than coveted seats of power….

At heart, Peter wanted to be forgiven his broken promises and his denial of Jesus on the last night they had eaten together.  Jesus was alive, had appeared to many and to the disciples more than once.  But unable to move past his denial of Jesus and his bravado of steadfastness, Peter went back to the thing he had known from childhood -fishing- and found he could not even do that well!

Until Jesus led him to the future –Peters future –not fishing but shepherding and loving Jesus’ flock, a flock that would grow beyond the imaginings of the last three years.

Across the charcoal fire of breakfast, Jesus begins a poignant journey with Peter filled with questions and answers.  Recalling the very first meeting Jesus says, “Simon son of John, (Simon Bar Jonas) do you love me more than these?” so, just what was Jesus talking about?

Do you love me more than these other men love me?  Do you love me more than you love these men?  Or do you love me more than these things: fishing, fishing boat, nets, the gear, and all the stuff of fishing.  Which one was it?

It was probably a little of all of them.  When Jesus said that all of the disciples would desert him after his betrayal Peter vehemently said,” I don’t care what these guys do, I won’t desert you, no matter what happens.” In a sense Peter had been claiming that his love for Jesus was greater than theirs.  That he was better than them.  But he did these desert Jesus.  Not only did he desert Jesus, he denied even knowing him, not once but three times.  And then the cock crowed.

“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these men love me?” humbled, all Peter could say was, “Lord, you know I love you.” As if to say,” Lord, I can’t say that anymore.  Not after what I did, but I do love you.”

With love, compassion, mercy, grace, and forgiveness Jesus looked at Peter across that charcoal fire, with the smell of that denial still in the air, and said, “Feed my lambs.”

Jesus is being very clear about Peter’s role of caring for the young flock of new Christians, the lambs.  Peter was to feed and nurture them through his leadership and faith.  Peter was no longer simply the apprentice shepherd, now the flock was his.  Jesus was passing the mantle just as Elijah had done with Elisha.  “Feed my lambs.  Be the good shepherd that I was.  Be willing to lay down your life for the flock to as I did.”

As if once weren’t enough, a second time Jesus asks, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter must’ve been confused.  He just answered that question.  And yet Jesus was asking again.  So, Peter didn’t hesitate, “yes, Lord; you know that I love you.

Jesus replied, “Tend my sheep.” Just in case Peter didn’t get it, he was a little hardheaded time, his strength wasn’t the only reason Jesus called him ‘the rock’.

Tend my sheep.  Be the shepherd to this brand-new flock that is struggling right now.  Be the shepherd I called you to be and I know you can be.  Tend my sheep.

The third time, Jesus asked, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” I wonder if the smoke of the charcoal fire shifted just about then.  Or maybe it was the coals that shifted and sparked up as Peter heard the question and was stung to the very core.  But what ever happened, I think Peter was drawn back to that seen in Caiaphas’ courtyard.  Maybe another cock crowed.  But I think at that moment it all became clear for Peter.

He replied, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Lord, I can’t hide anything from you.  I can’t hold anything back from you.  You know I would take it all back and do something different if I could.”

Tell them and then, when Peter looked across this charcoal fire and locked eyes with Jesus for the third time, what he saw was different.  It wasn’t a loving disappointment.  What he saw was an invitation to come home from the far country.  It was an invitation into forgiveness.  And it was an invitation back into the position of leadership for which Jesus had trained Peter.

Three acts of denial, three acts of redemption across the charcoal fire.  With love and compassion, filled with redemption and forgiveness, Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus offered reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption.  And in so doing empowered Peter to be the leader he needed to be.

What kind of fish were you fed on the beach that morning…..  The kind you want and need most.

John 20:1-18

20Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. 2So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” 3Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. 4The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. 6Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, 7and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. 8Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; 9for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10Then the disciples returned to their homes.

11But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; 12and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told the that he had said these things to her.

Acts 10:34-43

34Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. 37That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

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