I Am Going FishingSeries: Turbulence
I AM GOING FISHING
Sermon By Terry Siverd - - Cortland Church of Christ - - April 12, 2020
Happy Holiday to all of you. This is one of the few instances when a holiday is also a holy day.
Even though my family moved from Florida to NE Ohio when I was about ten years old, I really can't
recall that I became aware of a link between FISH and CHRISTMAS until just a few years ago.
My awareness was heightened when Jeannie & I took a pre-Christmas bus trip to Pittsburgh with some
of Jeannie's workmates. If I'm recollecting accurately, a couple of her Italian-American friends took large
coolers loaded with ice and proceeded to fill them up with fish as we shopped in the warehouse district.
I think there is something called, “The Feast Of Seven Fish”, which apparently originated in the early 1900s.
It has to do with a special meal that many Italian-Americans eat on Christmas Eve.
At to why seven fish, some speculate that it may relate to Gen.2:2 (resting on the 7th day). Others suggest
that it may be connected to “7”, being the perfect number - - the trinity (3) + earth (4). Still others
argue that the “seven” refers to either the seven sacraments of the seven hills that surround Rome.
With today being EASTER and not Christmas, you may be thinking that I've lost my bearings.
But there's also something about FISH & FISHING that connects with THE LORD'S RESURRECTION.
This particular inter-weaving doesn't originate with social customs, it's actually right out of the Bible.
Open your Bibles with me to John's Gospel - - Jn.21:1f.
This text tells of additional “manifestations” or post-resurrection appearances of Jesus to His disciples.
We will return to this text shortly.
First, let's observe, that Jn.20:1ff tells of THE EMPTY TOMB of Jesus.
Mary Magdalene came to the tomb on the first day, while it was still dark, and noticed that the stone
had already been removed (the tomb was open). She quickly ran to inform Peter and John, saying,
They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they had laid Him (vs.2).
Peter & John sprinted to the tomb.
John arrived first and peered into the tomb and saw the linen wrappings but did not enter.
When Peter arrived he immediately went into the tomb and saw the wrappings lying there
and the facecloth rolled up by itself off to the side. Verse 8 states that John then entered and “believed”.
We can't help but be surprised to read the words recorded in Jn.20:9 - -
As yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again on the third day.
Vs.10 follows, noting, So the disciples went away again to their own homes.
Hold on to this text and we will return to it momentarily.
Jn.20:11 tells of Mary's return to the tomb.
She weeps and sees two angels who ask, Why are you weeping?.
She replies, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him (Jn.20:12).
Mary turned and beheld Jesus standing there, but she did not immediately realize that it was Him.
She assumed that Jesus was the gardener, and inquired as to where they had laid the body of Jesus.
In the faint light of early dawn, it is understandable that her tears might had blurred her vision.
When Jesus spoke her name, she recognized His voice, and called Him, Rabboni (vs.16).
She ran quickly to tell the others, declaring - - I have seen the Lord (vs.18).
John 20:19-29 then details two instances where our risen Lord appears to a group of His disciples.
We'll save those details for another sermon on another occasion.
Now, let's revisit Jn.21:1ff.
This text chronicles yet another appearance of Jesus to His disciples.
Remember Jn.20:10 - - the disciples went away again to their homes.
Most all of the Twelve apostles were from Galilee - - some 120 miles from Jerusalem.
The crucifixion took place in Jerusalem. The body of Jesus was entombed in Jerusalem.
Both Mt.26:32 and Mk.16:7 record that Jesus had told His apostles,
“After I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”
Jn.21:1ff details the fulfillment of this promise made by Jesus.
The twelve have now returned to Galilee (the sea of Galilee was also known as the sea of Tiberias).
Note Jn.21:3, Peter said to them, 'I am going fishing.' They responded, we will also come with you.
A superficial reading of this passage might conclude this action to be disrespectful and irreverent.
On the surface, this doesn't seem to be the appropriate time or place to go fishing.
One could wonder: “what was Peter thinking?” and “why didn't the others take umbrage?”.
We are driven here to trust Peter's instincts, which have not always proven trustworthy.
Perhaps it would be safer to say we're trusting Peter's memory - - Jesus had told him to go to Galilee.
Of all things, why at this juncture did Peter want to go fishing?
Although he was a professional fisherman, perhaps he also found it to be relaxing - - a time to decompress.
I think there is more here than meets the eye.
Jesus had been crucified and entombed in Jerusalem.
He made numerous post-resurrection appearances over a period of forty days (Acts 1:3)
in and around Jerusalem and He would soon ascend back to heaven from the mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
There was something about returning to Galilee, the place where it all started,
that was vital to preparing the apostles to go forward with the proclamation of the gospel of Christ.
Jn.21:3-14 records - -
They went out, and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking,
Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus therefore said to them,
'Children, you do not have any fish, do you?'. They answered Him, 'No.' And He said to them, 'Cast the net
on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.' They cast therefore, and then they were not
able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. The disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter,
'It is the LORD!'. And so when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on
(for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat,
for they were not far from land, but about a hundred years away, dragging the neat full of fish. And when
they got upon the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid, and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them,
'Bring some of the fish which you have caught.' Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of large fish,
a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them,
'Come and have breakfast.' None of the disciples ventured to question Him, 'Who are You?,
knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave them, and the fish likewise.
This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
There is so much to unpack from this story.
Lk.5:1-11 records a similar incident that took place when Jesus first called the twelve apostles.
While the details vary, the Jn.21 story is so much like the Lk.5 story that
it had to convince the apostles that this Man on the beach really was their resurrected Lord Jesus.
Besides both being stories about “fishing”, the Jn.21 meeting on the beach by the sea of Galilee
contained other key elements from the last three years of their discipleship with Jesus.
In addition to the two large catches of fish …
there was the fish and the bread (reminding them of the feeding of the multitudes) …
and the breaking of the bread (reminding them of the Passover meal, and other shared meals) …
and then there was the campfire (Peter denied Jesus while standing by a campfire/Lk.22:55).
Finally, the Lk.5 story concludes by Jesus telling His disciples (Lk.5:10) - -
Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.
This post-resurrection text before us - - Jn.21 - - concludes with Jesus reinstating Peter.
Remember, Peter had denied Jesus three times (Lk.22:54-62). And now,
Jesus provides Peter with the opportunity to re-affirm his faith - - three times (Jn.21:15-17).
If the apostles needed to be fully convinced that Jesus had indeed arisen, they got their proof!!
I want to close this Easter sermon with a quote from Timothy Keller.
This quotation is an argument against those who want to applaud the wonderful teachings of Jesus,
but equivocate about the miraculous claim that Jesus rose from the grave.
“If Jesus rose from the dead, then you have to accept all that He said. If He didn't rise
from the dead, then why worry about any of what He said? The issue on which everything
hangs is not whether you like His teachings, but whether or not He rose from the dead.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
Today, in the privacy of our homes because of a worldwide pandemic, we Christians - -
those of us who comprise the Cortland church of Christ and millions of others scattered
across the globe - - today we reaffirm our confession of faith that Christ Jesus is Lord.
We join our voices in declaring that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried,
and that He was raised on the third day, according to the Scriptures.
In the name of our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen