The risen Jesus has already appeared to the disciples twice,
with words of peace, breathing the spirit on them,
showing scars that tell the ultimate story of suffering and love.
Everything has changed…and yet life goes on.
There are only so many days the disciples can hide away in grief
or busy themselves with the logistics of death.
“I’m going fishing,” Peter declares.
And the others are eager to join him
doing something familiar and tangible,
work that will fill their senses and their bellies and their pockets.
They wait in the cold and darkness all night long,
dragging nets and catching nothing.
Even this familiar trade, this go-to labor is feeling scarce.
We know these hours, when nothing feels holy anymore,
and we resign ourselves to what has already been,
to stop believing in more than what feels safe to expect.
We do not recognize Jesus or expect to see him here.
It takes a word, an external word,
another voice to speak up and push on what might be true.
When another disciple recognizes Jesus and speaks it aloud,
Peter is transformed from a cold, nearsighted, and naked guy
into a foolish rush of joy and action,
moved from the deep drowning sea toward shore again.
When they get to shore,
Jesus is already cooking fish and bread on the fire.
Fish and bread: the disciples’ two main food groups.
They haven’t feasted with him since the Passover meal in the upper room,
that table filled with nervous fear, glimmers of betrayal and denial to come.
But also sustenance. Bread that nourished their bodies.
Wine that quenched their thirst.
Simple elements they have broken and poured dozens of times since that night
in remembrance of him, whether they wanted to remember or not.
The Risen Jesus doesn’t need these things anymore,
but he hasn’t forgotten the human joy and need of breakfast.
“Bring some of what you caught, too,” he says.
Reminding them that the miracle is real.
Reminding them that they have something to give
and it matters to the whole.
Like a gracious host who receives a bottle of wine from company,
let’s a guest stir the simmering pot while they chat,
or gives napkins to a child eager to help set the table,
calling everyone into the process of preparing dinner…
That’s Jesus for you – in life, in death, in risen glimpses:
Always inviting, including, equipping, honoring what we have to offer,
calling it useful and good.
Remember that Holy Week story,
when Peter denied knowing Jesus,
following Jesus, being from the same place as Jesus?
It has been haunting Peter ever since and now it’s time to reconcile.
Bear in mind that Peter did not deny Jesus’ identity, but his own.
Peter denied himself – his connection, his devotion, his true self that night,
another death that has not yet known resurrection.
So Jesus asks Peter three times: Do you love me?
Not for the sake of his own divine ego
or to teach the other disciples a lesson,
but to give Peter back to himself and to his call:
To tend those who need protection. To feed those who need provision.
To fish. To shepherd. To be alive with good purpose that moves beyond fear
and the belief that he is already and always enough as this real version of himself.
Where your great gift meets the world’s deep need.
From ego and independence to a vulnerable and humble letting go.
Not because Jesus needs it or because Peter needs it.
But because the world does.
There is room for Peter at this campfire,
just as there was room for him at the Last Supper,
just as there is room every time we’re
scrambling back to God and to ourselves.
Rachel Held Evans
Christian theologian and author.
Died yesterday morning at age 37.
“This is what the kingdom of God is like: a bunch of outcasts and oddballs gathered at a table, not because they are rich or worthy or good, but because they are hungry and they say YES.
So come to remember, to give thanks, to say YES to the one who invites us again and again to the table where there is, as Rachel once said, always room for one more. For here we are fed with the bread of life, by the host who never fails to give us something useful to do, who never tires of calling us back to our real selves and to each other.