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Breakfast on the Beach

Meals with Jesus

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Breakfast on the Beach
'Do You Love Me ?' 

Read : St John 21:1-17 (NLT) 

(Please note - The reading and reflection were interspersed, as in the text below. The text in blue italics indicates the sections of the Bible passage from St John's Gospel, while the normal text, is the actual reflection.)  

Jesus appeared to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. Several of the disciples were there-Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two others. Simon Peter said, "I'm going fishing." "We'll come, too," they all said. 

In Matthew's account of Easter morning, the angels told the women at the tomb, to tell the disciples that Jesus had risen, and he would meet them in Galilee. So the disciples are now in Galilee, waiting for Jesus.  

We don't know how long they've been there, but it's easy to imagine the fishing families of Peter, James and John saying to them 'while you're here, you could at least make yourselves useful . . .' Could that could be why they decided to go fishing ? 

So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.  

We discover something about the disciples - they are definitely not quitters ! I wonder if that was one reason why Jesus chose themin teh first place ? Although they catch nothing, they don't give up. They keep trying all night. It's not until dawn is breaking that they finally admit defeat, and turn their boat towards shore, going home empty-handed.  

At dawn, Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn't see who he was. Jesus called out, "Have you caught any fish?" "No," they replied. 

Are we sometimes like that ? Too busy trying to cope on our own, to hear Jesus speaking to us ? 

I wonder whether Jesus has been waiting all night ? Has he been calling for a while, but they've been too far away, too focussed on what they're doing, to hear him ? Perhaps it's only when they admit defeat, and stop trying to cope on their own, that they hear Jesus ?  

Jesus said, "Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you'll get some!"  

They'd just spent all night doing this - why would they do it ? They could so easily have ignored the stranger shouting at them, and gone home with nothing, but for some reason they do what he says. 

So they did, and they couldn't haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, "It's the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 

It's interestng to note that it's only after they obey the stranger, only after they have so many fish they can't pull them into the boat, that they recognise Jesus.  

How often do we miss seeing Jesus at work in our lives, until afterwards, when we look back ? 

The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them-fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread. 

Jesus must have been waiting for a while. Long enough anyway to get a fire going, with fish and bread cooking. I wonder if Jesus caught the fish that was cooking ? I wonder if perhaps he called on Peter's mother-in-law, to ask for the bread that was cooking ?  

Sometimes, do we have to reach the end of our own resources and admit defeat, before we are able to see Jesus waiting for us, ready to help, wanting to take care of us ? 

"Bring some of the fish you've just caught," Jesus said. So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn't torn. 

I suspect only a fisherman would think we'd want to know the exact number of fish they caught ! . . .but having got the fish to shore, Jesus asks for some of the catch that he just provided. Jesus has started breakfast, but he also asks for their help with it.  

I suspect only a fisherman would think we'd want to know the exact number of fish they caught ! . . .but having got the fish to shore, Jesus asks for some of the catch that he just provided. Jesus has started breakfast, but he also asks for their help with it.  


"Now come and have some breakfast!" Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish.  

At the end of their long night, the disciples were tired and frustrated as they headed for shore, and yet how quickly that changed when they did what Jesus asked. Now they have a huge catch, and Jesus himself welcoming them with breakfast and a warming fire.  

How often do we get tired and frustrated when nothing seems to be happening, only to discover Jesus patiently waiting for us to catch up with him, so that he can care for us, or so that we can work with him? 

After breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," Peter replied, "you know I love you." "Then feed my lambs," Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: "Simon son of John, do you love me?" "Yes, Lord," Peter said, "you know I love you." "Then take care of my sheep," Jesus said. A third time he asked him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you." Jesus said, "Then feed my sheep. 

Did you notice that Jesus waits until after breakfast, after caring for Peter, before asking his questions ?  

We know from Luke's account of Easter Day, that Jesus met with Peter, after seeing Mary Magdalene at the tomb, and before appearing in the upper room. We have no details of their meeting, but it's reasonable to suppose they discussed Peter's three denials of Jesus, with Peter repenting and being forgiven.  

And yet . . . here, after breakfast, Jesus questions Peter. Perhaps previously, Peter was unable to accept or believe Jesus' forgiveness ? Perhaps this is Jesus showing the other disciples that Peter is forgiven, and fully accepted back into the group ? Perhaps there were other reasons - we just don't know.  

But we do know, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him. Bible scholars offer many suggestions why each of Jesus responses to Peter, are slightly different, but I#d like to think about the questions.  

Although all the questions look the same, I wonder Jesus put a different emphasis to each question ? And I wonder whether we all need to think about these questions, particularly during Lent ? 

Jesus asked Peter - as he asks us today - 'Do you love me ?' Jesus is asking whether our relationship with him is personal, passionate, and pre-eminent in our lives. 

'Do YOU love me ?'- Jesus wants our own personal response to him. We are to have our own personal relationship with God, not a relationship based on someone else's experience of, orresponse to, God.  

'Do you LOVE me ?' - Jesus does not ask - do you like me, respect me, admire, fear, worship, or believe, in me ? He asks - do you LOVE me ? Jesus wants a passionate response from us, he wants us to have a passionate relationship with him. 

'Do you love ME ?' - Jesus' third question asks about our priorities. Where do we spend our time, talents, energy, money ? What does the way we live, say about us ? Can people see our love for Jesus shining in and through us ? Is Jesus pre-eminent in our lives ?  

Jesus wants us to love him more than anything else, but how often do we get distracted by other things, things that damage our relationship with him ? 

do you love me

Jesus asks us 'Do you love me ?' In three tough ways . . . but he asks because he longs for our relationship with him to be personal, passionate, and pre-eminent in our lives.  

As we journey through the coming weeks of Lent, with its focus on repentance, examining our relationship with God, and turning back to God, perhaps there is something here for us to reflect on ? Perhaps there something we need to ask God to help us change in our lives ?  

. . . until we too can say with Peter 'Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.' 

Ruth Gillett, 2017


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