John 21:9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.
When you come to a text, what do you see? While it is true that the scriptures only have one meaning, often there is much more to a text, than what lies on the surface. Often we use a prayer, that we might read, mark learn, and inwardly digest the Word of God – today I hope to show you something of what that means, it is something you can do, as you search the scriptures.
On the face of it, our text is a simple text telling about how Jesus appeared to the disciples after the Easter resurrection. The Passover is past, and they have returned to Galilee, and it begins with Peter wanting to go fishing. Other disciples come along, they fish all night catch nothing, and Jesus appears to them. And that’s where it stops for some people, and their response to the text, is, I read it, ok, so what’s next?
Lets think about it – what did we read? If experienced professional fisherman fish all night and catch nothing – usually we think that means there are no fish to be caught, they know they times and the seasons, they know where to find fish, it is their life. How is it that Jesus knows where the fish are? How is it that they can catch so many fish? How is it that they nets hold, and do not break? We can now look at the text in a new way, we could call this the "let’s take Jesus fishing" text. For it now says something new, it says if we take Jesus, we catch fish, if we like to catch fish, lets take Jesus with us.
And now the text can function in a whole new way, not as a text about fishing specifically, but a text about doing anything – so that whatever we do, our first thought is to take Jesus with us, because we know he can be of help.
This can work in 2 ways, for while it reminds us of the blessing of having Jesus with us, it also can guide us. For sometimes we might be tempted to do something where we would not want Jesus with us, we know he wouldn’t approve – this text can call us to turn from sin [something we wouldn’t want Jesus to see us doing] and it can show us our savior, who helps in every need.
This is a good start, but we are not quite done – for I think there is something more to the text, the problem is that we may not have the ears to hear it – for the scriptures want to be really learned, so that the dwell in our hearts, so that we know them thoroughly, and if we do often other scriptures will give us a new insight into a familiar text.
The other scripture in this case, is a familiar text from the prophet Isaiah 55:1-2
"Ho, every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Hearken diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in fatness."
What do we hear:
Come to the waters and eat.
Why do you spend money for that which is not bread?
Why do you labor for that which does not satisfy?
In other words, the story we might have called the let’s take Jesus fishing text, says a lot more than what we thought. The difference is the difference between having Jesus follow us, and when we follow Jesus. Which did Jesus call us to do?
Now if we look back at the text, while its wonderful that Jesus knew where the fist where, and great that they caught so many fish – the thing that is perhaps the most amazing is that when they got ashore, there was already a fire, and fish and bread where already prepared. Where did it come from?
We have a risen savior, and he provides richly – we need not worry about anything, because in Christ everything is provided – that is what it means to live by faith – we trust that God really will provide everything necessary.