Stations of the Resurrection
VIII – On the Shore of Lake Tiberias
A Psalm Paraphrase
P: Praise the Lord who hallows the human race and redeems our lives from futility. He knows our circumstances and understands that we are dust. He makes us citizens of heaven, just a little less important than angels.
1 The Lord knows our struggles, like when we fish through the night and catch nothing. He continues to encourage us, calling us “Friends.” He prepares a table before us containing bread and fish.
2 Lift up your head and put a smile on your face, because the bounty of the Lord is endless, his love and goodness overflow. He takes us into his confidence and explains that there will be no scarcity when he is present.
3 We are welcomed back into Jesus’ good grace and discover there the power to love. His love overcomes our weak `denials and mistaken choices. There is welcome for the sinner and a refuge for the forlorn.
4 Lord, your name is majestic. You save us from disaster and empower us for ministry.
P: Glory and blessing be to God the Holy One, Creator of the universe, who in the power of the Holy Spirit, raised from the dead our Lord, Jesus Christ.
I Peter 5:1-4, 6-11
1So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
6Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
P: This is the word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.
1After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 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 as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net on 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 of the quantity of fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
9When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out 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, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed 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.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”
P: This is the word of the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God.
Artwork and Discussion
The post-resurrection appearances of Jesus are deeply concerned with the transfer of authority and responsibility for ministry to his disciples. The picture we get on the shore of Lake Tiberias (Lake Galilee) links up with the original call of the disciples (Matthew 4:18-22; Luke 5:1-11—a story of boats, nets, fish and the call to “fish for men”), with a teaching parable of Jesus (Matthew 13:47-50), and with the words of Peter both confessing Jesus to be the Christ/Messiah and immediately rejecting the prediction of the cross (Matthew 16:13-25—a pattern that will be again enacted on the night of Jesus’ arrest, Matthew 26:31-35 and 26:69-75). Is Peter trustworthy, given this history? The “miraculous catch of fish” will be paralleled by the outpouring of the Spirit on Pentecost, when metaphor and history are fused into one, as 3000 people come to faith and are baptized. Peter is the leader of the fishermen; he is also the leading spokesman on Pentecost. The curious number of fish—153—held in a net not torn, indicates that the church’s ingathering is mysterious, full and perfect. All the “fish” are included—none are thrown back; they are brought to shore by one boat (church unity, led by Peter). The number 153, by the way, is geometrically an equilateral triangle with 17 “fish” on each side and ascending from a base of 17 in declining numbers to the single “fish” on top.
Jesus’ three questions to Peter parallel Peter’s three denials. “Peter, do you love me?” We could all hear Jesus substitute our names. Peter responds with a “Yes!” and is instructed to “feed my sheep.” The Lord provides sustenance with a breakfast meal. Jesus is the “bread of life” and the Church’s eucharistic center. Pot-luck dinners have been a church staple ever since. When we come together, we share whatever we have. Jesus is the one who calls us together.
Meditation / A Responsive Reading
5 The fishing metaphor is in the forefront of our understanding of ministry–fish for people, use of the net of love, and if they’re not on one side of the boat, change your tactics because they’ll likely be on the other. We all make mistakes, even with good intentions–don’t let that deter you. The only failure comes about when we quit fishing.
6 The Lord who sends us out in his name can multiply the fish to feed a multitude. The resources for ministry all come from Christ’s creative hand. We learn from him to be self-giving, not lording it over anyone but becoming humble servants. Fishing and humility go hand in hand.
7 Love the Lord with your whole heart, your whole mind, your whole soul. Love and serve your neighbor. Fulfill the calling of the Lord.
P: Lord, sweep aside all chaos and disorder and help us exercise our gifts of ministry. Multiply the gifts of your Spirit to supply the needs of your church. Give to the church faithful shepherds and anoint them with your tender grace, that our faith communities may be strong, loving and bold. Let this be so in Christ. Amen.
A: The sign of the fish was possibly the first Christian symbol. Together with the ship of the church that has a cross emblazoned on its sail, we have nautical images and references of great power that encounter storms–wind and waves–without despair. Jesus was a master at explaining spiritual realities through earthy references. You might take out an old life vest and paint a cross on it, maybe even a ship buffeted by waves. Walk around your church building, and invite questions about your attire.