Encounter on the Beach
The air is cool but the heat from the fire is warm against your skin. Your feet are still damp from climbing out of the boat to join Jesus on the beach. Your memory has been captured by the replay of the miraculous catch of fish three years before. Peter drags the net ashore as Jesus asks you to bring some of the fish to his fire, the fish that was far from your net just a short time ago. (John 21)
Imagine yourself as a disciple of Jesus... sitting on the beach, watching your friend and teacher, the Crucified One, the Risen One, the Master of all, cooking you breakfast. He cooks for you. Fascinated, entranced, and maybe a smidge fearful you watch him and longing stirs within you for more than you can even name. Of course John's words, "It is the Lord," catapulted Peter into the water to reach the shore with an urgency that was tangible... you only wish you had done the same.
The recent weeks have been a blur. There was triumph and victory when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead and then entered Jerusalem to shouts of praise and adoration. But the opposition to Jesus was sinister and real and the downward turn steep and traumatic. Then there was the sweet intimacy of celebrating Passover with the Lord. Jesus called you friend and he washed your feet, his tenderness and your awkwardness intertwined. Peter's impulsive declaration simply voiced every disciple's hesitation and desire. Resistance and open-heartedness in tension. "Don't wash my feet... wash all of me!"
You stare into the flames, but your heart is fixated on Jesus. He draws near to you. He hands you a steaming piece of fish and a chunk of bread, and the earthy aromas of nourishment imprint this moment in your memory. Somehow the chaos is stilled and peace descends in His Presence. He gives you what you need. He provides. He renews your calling. "Feed my sheep... Follow me."
What do you need when you have been tumbled by trauma, when battle wounds have hardly even begun to heal, when the sifting has been particularly intense and your failings feel greater than your faith, when uncertainty has tumbled all preconceptions? Mary and the women drew near to a crucified Savior only to find he was alive, Peter and John ran for the empty tomb only to find he was not there, two of the disciples left for Emmaus, distancing themselves from the confusion and shattered expectations, only to find that Jesus met them on the road to interpret the plot and renew their hope. There were doors locked by fear but Jesus moved through them, there were bold declarations of unbelief and need but Jesus met the need calling forth belief, and there was a return to the familiar, a return to life before Jesus, a life of fishing, but empty nets were miraculously filled--again.
And Jesus renews the calling to join him and partner with him, to search for, reach for, fish for people, the hearts of humanity. In these post resurrection weeks how can we attend to the heart of God?