3rd Sunday of Easter
Grace and peace to you from him who is, who was, and who is to come, the risen Lord Jesus. In His name, dear friends in Christ, what is “power”? What does it mean to have “power”? Most cars, trucks, engines, motors are measured by something called horsepower- the more horsepower the greater the amount of work it is able to do. At home we have become dependent on something called electrical power in order to live comfortably and carry on our lives. If perhaps sometime we should get some warmer weather and the snow melts fast, rivers, like the Red River, will flood and that water will have a lot of “power;” power to wipe away homes and bridges and whatever is in its path. Well, we also need a certain amount of “power” or energy in our lives. Some people can’t get their day going without a power boost from a cup of coffee; others need one of those energy drinks to give them a boost.
Things need power to go, people need power. We all need a certain power in our lives to keep us going. So, what is your power? Well, what gave the disciples power to keep going?
In our text we find the disciples. Now imagine what the past few weeks must have been like for the disciples. It must have been an incredible emotional roller coaster ride, right? I mean, in a matter of a week, imagine what they saw. On Palm Sunday they were lifted to the heights as Jesus rode into Jerusalem and so many people were singing His praises, but then they spiraled down the depths nearing despair as they witnessed their Lord, their Messiah, their Savior betrayed, arrested, then crucified. That Saturday must have been just devastating to them thinking about how they had a dead Savior. But then they were swept up to the heights of heaven on that glorious Easter Sunday seeing with their own eyes that Jesus had risen from the dead! I can imagine their heads were spinning as they tried to think about and process all of this. I can also imagine them sitting around and thinking, “Wow! But what are we going to do now?” Well, here in our text we see how Jesus gave them that power they needed to keep going.
As they were sitting around, Peter, always bold and forward, said, “I’m going out to fish.” And the other disciples said, “We’ll go with you.” They went out at night; night was the preferred time to fish.
And they spent the entire night out on the lake casting their net and hauling it back in and…. nothing. Now, remember that their fishing back then was a lot different from our fishing today. I know there are a lot of fishermen here. Fishing today is for many, if not most, a past time, a sport, hobby, for the people at this time, though, fishing was a way of life, it was a livelihood. Not only was not catching anything a discouragement, it also meant that you weren’t going to have a paycheck. And it wasn’t like they were sitting in a nice aluminum or fiberglass boat, in a cushioned chair, with a fishing rod propped in one hand and a beverage in the cup holder. It was a wooden boat and the net was likely made of some kind of rope, it would have been heavy- even more so when wet. Imagine casting the net again and again and again and not getting anything all night long! Then, likely, as they were heading back to shore early in the morning while the sun dimly lit everything, a stranger called from the shore. “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” They answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” The voice and the words inspired a confidence in them and they try it. They proceeded to haul in an extraordinary catch of fish.
At this John identified the stranger as Jesus, “It is the Lord!” And Peter jumped to action grabbing his outer clothing and jumping in the lake to get to Jesus as fast as he could. And they found Jesus alive and well with breakfast waiting for them.
Imagine how this event would have helped the disciples in their lives. What power this event would have given them to serve their Savior. Note specifically 3 ways this would have helped them:
First, there’s the obvious one. It shows Jesus’ power to do miracles. By the power of His Word and the power of His strength Jesus caused the disciples to have an extraordinary catch of fish. Interestingly, this same miracle happened once before. It happened at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry when He called the first disciples to follow Him and become “fishers of men.” In other words, they would spread the message of Jesus and souls would be caught for eternal life. Seeing this miracle would have reminded them of their mission and the power behind them
Well, is the risen Lord Jesus any less powerful today? Perhaps we’re tempted to doubt His power, to think miracles were something that only happened 2,000 years ago, and even if Jesus has the power He’s not using it for our lives. But think about it, the same Jesus worked a bunch of miracles in this room today. Each one of us was born into this world lost and condemned, dead in our sins, but by the power of Jesus’ words He worked faith in your heart giving you spiritual life. That’s a miracle! That’s a demonstration of Jesus’ amazing power! Each time a baby is baptized the power of Jesus’ words work a miracle in that baby’s heart. Each time the Lord’s Supper is offered it’s the power of Jesus words that work a miracle giving us Himself and the forgiveness of sins in the Supper! See Jesus’ power to do miracles in your life!
Second, it shows Jesus’ power to give you success. The disciples knew how to fish. They had probably been on this lake hundreds of times. They knew the spots, they had the skills. But relying on their own abilities, their own skills, even their own past experiences, left them… unsuccessful. They knew how to fish, that wasn’t the problem. You and I know how to live our lives; we know how to survive for the most part. But what brought the disciples success was when they listened to and trusted not in themselves or in their own abilities, but relied on the word of the Lord. This brought them more success than they could ever have imagined! But notice something, they didn’t dwell on the fish, the outward success wasn’t the lesson the disciples were to take from this, those fish- all 153 of them- would be cleaned and sold and eaten and then be gone. That wasn’t the point. The real lesson and real take away for the disciples would be lasting. The lesson they learned here is a lesson we still have today as well. It wasn’t so much the outward success or the great catch of fish, but who caused it to happen that was important. The Lord, who can do miracles, is the one who gives success – trust in Him! In fact, after the catch Peter didn’t care about the fish anymore, he jumped in the water in order to get closer to His Savior as fast as possible.
You see, the success that God wants to give us and wants us to see is not so much our outward blessings, like our bank accounts full, our homes full of toys, and everything working out just the way that we want or expect. The success God wants us to have is drawing us closer to Him, refocusing us on who He is, realizing His power for our lives, taking note of His loving concern for taking care of us day after day.
Now imagine how this event could have gone. If the disciples had hauled in that great catch of fish, then proceeded to ignore the stranger on the beach, brought their catch of fish back to the shore, said, ‘Quick! We need to clean these fish so we can get them to the market and make some money, so we can cash in on our success!’ Then they would have missed the whole point. Yet, so often what do we do? We focus on the fish, don’t we? We focus on the outward success or the outward lack of success in our lives. When God gives us a blessing, don’t we often focus on it? Forget about the God who gave it to us, who gave us the health, abilities, skills to enjoy it? When trouble or trial comes, we focus on it, forget about the God who’s promised to be with us and hold our hand through it.
If a trouble or a problem caused us to rely less on ourselves and lean more fully on God and His power and His grace, then it was successful. If a wonderful outward blessing came to us and led us to give all praise and thanks and glory to God alone, it was successful. If an event happened in our lives that caused us to take a step back and bask in the awe of our Lord’s power and His ability and His gracious working in our lives, then it was successful.
Finally, it shows Jesus’ power as your friend. Yet, even though Jesus is the all-powerful one, the all-knowing one, the risen Lord, the one who has done what no one else could ever possibly imagine to do, although Jesus has resurrected from the dead and owns all power in heaven and on earth, what did He choose to do here? Eat breakfast with His disciples! Share a meal with lowly common men! And certainly not stellar men at that either! Men who so often ignored what he had said, who at times were more interested in being served than serving, who argued about who was the greatest, people like Peter, a public failure and known denier, Thomas, a doubter, the sons of Zebedee, who wanted to be Jesus’ right hand men, and even two disciples who must remain nameless and anonymous! Jesus, the Resurrected Lord, chose to eat breakfast with them.
But does He not do the same for you? Certainly we aren’t stellar people either- full of problems, troubles, and sins. But what does Jesus do? He comes as our friend with power. When you sit down for a meal and pray that common table prayer: “Come Lord Jesus, be our guest…” Asking Jesus to bless the food that He Himself has provided us through the work of our hands. Or when we gather at home with our families for a devotion or at church does Jesus not promise, “Wherever two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” Or even on our own in private as we read His Word alone and meditate on it, or even when we are talking about His Word with a co-worker or a friend, are we really alone? Does not our Savior Himself tell us, “Surely I am with you always to the very end of the age”?
What amazing grace that the Lord Jesus, the all-powerful one, the one who can cause great catches of fish, who can provide a breakfast out of nothing, He, Himself, goes with you in your life with His power and might.
And finally since He is the Risen Lord, the One who has defeated sin and death by His resurrection from the dead, we know without a doubt that we will see Him in all His glory and His might one day. One day all our doubts about His power and might will be driven from our hearts and minds. Just like we saw in our lesson from Revelation, that’s what we will one day see. One day He will lay before us a glorious feast, a banquet, gathered with all believers of all time in the ultimate joy of heaven. May the power of your risen Savior who works miracles, gives success, and is your friend go with you now and always. Amen.