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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Church sign
Yesterday we passed this church sign in rural Lebanon County.
What an assuring reminder; our salvation has been paid in full!

"A Fish Story" (Part 3)

Message summary: This is our final lesson about the disciples fishing trip following the Resurrection, the first post-resurrection men's breakfast!

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"That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.' So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after He was raised from the dead" (John 21:7-13).

Camp breakfastWhen I go camping with a group of men the most memorable meal of the day is breakfast when the cooking crew rises early and builds a big fire. Smoke from the blazing fire and the aroma of bacon and sausage sizzling with sliced onions and peppers fills the air. The photo shows a breakfast being prepared for our group during a campout in the mountains years ago. We usually had eggs, pancakes, hash browns with peppers and onions, bacon and sausage. We might even have some fish if the men were successful in catching a few!

I (Stephen) enjoy eating breakfast with a gathering of other men. In churches I pastored we periodically had Saturday men's breakfasts, either going to a restaurant or some of the men cooked the meal in the fellowship hall.

Today let's consider the first recorded post-resurrection men's breakfast. The story is recorded in John 21:1-14. Peter and several of the disciples had been fishing all night and caught nothing till instructed by the Master calling from the shore where to cast their net. Then they had a huge catch of 153 fish!

After the miraculous catch John recognized the Lord and Peter characteristically jumped out of the boat and waded ashore, with the others following in the loaded boat.

When the disciples landed they saw the "burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread". Apparently Jesus had already done a little fishing Himself. But He also said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught”.  Evidently He wanted to add their freshly caught fish to those that He was already cooking over the fire. Since there is no mention of anyone else waiting on the shore we assume that He built the fire, cooked the fish, and provided the bread.

Then Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast” or as the KJV says, "Come and dine". I’m sure that breakfast really tasted good after a long, frustrating night of hard work. But even more than the physical meal Jesus offered the disciples, I’m sure the fellowship at this men’s breakfast was outstanding and most memorable for the rest of their days on earth! I always enjoy getting together with a bunch of men for breakfast, but never had the opportunity to dine with the resurrected Master at His invitation and His preparation of the food to be eaten.

I would like to have sat with these disciples on the shore during this breakfast where one after the other surely told their colorful stories, using expression and animation, as they spoke of how they tried every method known to fishermen to fill their nets, but nothing worked till they followed the Master’s instructions.

After hearing all their stories I wonder if Jesus used their fishing experience as an illustration to teach and reinforce that, even though circumstances seemed bleak, He is the Great Provider. Though He would not be with them physically He was only a prayer away.  Perhaps He repeated some of His earlier teaching where He said, “Ask and it will be given to you” or He reminded them that they were to seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, even in their daily labors, so that all that they need to eat, drink or wear will be provided for them. They surely needed to hear once more from their Master’s lips that their heavenly Father knew what they had need of even before they asked. Don't we need to be regularly reminded of this?

Physically, the disciples were nurtured by the fish and bread Jesus prepared over the fire of burning coals. Socially, they enjoyed the fellowship of one another as they talked about their miraculous catch over a warm breakfast. Financially, Jesus filled the net so full of large fish that the disciples could not even haul it in; it had to be towed by boat. (Their wives would likely be treated to a “meal out” that evening.) Spiritually, the disciples learned that obedience to the Lord’s instruction brought about great reward. It also laid groundwork for the important truths Jesus taught them following their breakfast. So at that fishing expedition with the breakfast that followed, Jesus met their physical, social, financial, and spiritual needs.

Of all the significant events that took place in the forty-day period between the resurrection and ascension this is quite a story to be providentially included in sacred Scripture. I believe in part it’s included as a reminder of the fellowship the Lord now wants to have with all His followers and for us to have with one another, and also that we are always to seek His Kingdom first as we follow His leading in all avenues of our life.
He will provide for all our needs.

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, if You care for the lilies of the field that neither labor nor spin, and You clothe the grass of the field, which is here today and yet tomorrow is mowed down, how much more will You care for us who are made in Your own image. You desire our fellowship, our devotion, and our reliance on You for all our needs, for You delight in providing everything we have need of. We’re reminded of Your watchful eye as we go about our daily routine through the story of the fishermen who needed a catch of fish. You met their need, over and above what they could have anticipated. Help us to listen and obey Your wise instruction, walk faithfully in Your paths of righteousness, and trust You to meet everyone of our needs: physically, spiritually, socially, and financially. We thank You for Jesus, our Intercessor,  who intercedes on our behalf to You, our Father, and supplies all our needs. Amen.

I suppose there are a number of qualities that makes a meal prepared over an open fire extra tasty. In addition to the pleasant aroma that fills the air as the food sizzling over the crackling fire is the smoked flavor that penetrates the food as it cooks. When I’m visiting the Kansas City, Missouri area, where I grew up one thing I always look forward to is eating some good KC barbecue. Real barbecue involves slowly cooking meat over wood, usually in a pit.  Now that my folks have passed away I rarely get out that way and I sure miss the great BBQ. Several years ago I went with my brothers, Mike and Pat, to Snead’s BBQ in Belton, Missouri, the small town where we grew up, and we split a big platter of burnt ends.

Not everyone reading our message today goes to a stream or river to catch fish. But we are all called to be fishers of men. Let’s cast out our faith and pray for a good catch of men and women, boys and girls who will decidedly follow the Lord Jesus Christ. Now that’s a great story to share with others around the dinner table.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

"Come And Dine The Master Calleth"  Click to listen on YouTube  Old Time Gospel Hour Quartet  This song is partially based on today's account. I recall early in my ministry that David Selleck, our presbyter, would often have us sing this before we ate our meal at a minister's fellowship time.

"Goodness Of God"  Click to listen on YouTube  From Calvary Church service this last Lord's Day.

Brooksyne's Note: Oh my! I love this song and I can never sing it at church or hear it on the radio that I don't play a video in my memory bank of the hard experiences throughout my life when I didn't think God was going to come through for me. And in reality there are some prayers that were not answered as I had hoped or prayed; those come to mind as well.

… I love Your voice
You have led me through the fire
In the darkest night
You are close like no other

But as I'm singing these words I see how God has shown His faithfulness even in those matters. If the circumstances didn't change as I had hoped, God revealed His faithfulness in ways I hadn't prayed for, and so all these years later I can still proclaim with the Psalmist, "He alone is my Rock and my Salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken (Psalm 62:6).

… And all my life You have been faithful
And all my life You have been so, so good
With every breath that I am able
Oh, I'm gonna sing of the goodness of God

Sunset Grocery store
Yesterday we were greeted by this chalkboard mural when we walked into Sunset Grocery Outlet, a rural grocery store in Lebanon County. They use this large chalk board in their entrance as a witness of truth.

Rye harvest
"You clothe the grass of the field, which is here today and yet tomorrow is mowed down."
The other day we had the first harvest of the season as they cut the rye in the field across from our home, working into the dark of night, when I took this photo.

Rye harvest view
Our view this morning of a freshly mown field road across the road. Our three little dogs will miss the rye as they loved to jump in it, looking like bunny rabbits hop, hopping along. When the rye got a lot taller than the small dogs we'd only see their head pop up here and there.

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