Let us pray: Dear Savior, our lives are filled with twists and turns, ups and downs. Everything seems to change, almost on a daily basis. Likewise, the people around us change and we change with them—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Because of this we often feel that we can count on nothing and no one. Lord, today remind us that we can always count on You to uplift, forgive, strengthen, and comfort us in this life because You never change and neither does Your love for us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, OUR UNCHANGEABLE LORD!
TEXT: John 21: 1-14
Dearly Beloved By Christ, the Miracle Worker:
Remember your best friend in the 3rd grade? Remember how close you were and how you shared everything with them? Well, are they still your best friend and are you still as close today? Remember when you could run like a deer and busy yourself at work or play all day long? Is your body still that full of energy and still just as vibrant today? Remember when you would put money in the bank, save it, earn real interest on it, and when you took it out you had a nice nest egg? Is that still true today? That fact is: people change, life changes, economics change, everything changes—with one huge exception. That exception being: Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Folks, that is very, very comforting in a world characterized by constant upheaval. So, today let’s examine our text by focusing on this theme taken from Hebrews 13 vs. 8:
JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND FOREVER
After appearing to the disciples in the Upper room on Easter evening and again a week later in the exact same location, those disciples moved out of Jerusalem. In obedience to Christ’s words issued beforehand they went up to Galilee and waited for Him. While there they put their time to good use and resumed fishing. After all, many of them were fishermen by trade and some of them still had to provide for their families. How long was this hiatus from Christ? No more than a week or two. For recall that a mere 40 days after Easter Christ ascended into the glory of heaven. It is at this juncture that we meet up with them once again.
“Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee).” Seven of the disciples under Peter’s direction went out to fish one night. “They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.” When you think about this, it was actually good training for their future in the public ministry. All servants of the Word have times when they “catch nothing” in terms of souls. Yes, patience and trust are Christian virtues and learning them takes time.
“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘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.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”
Remember an earlier miracle recorded in St. Luke at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry that parallels this one? Remember how Jesus told them to do something similar with similar results a couple of years before this? You’d think all this would tip them off as to this “man’s” identity? You’d think that Peter would especially get the connection. But, like us, he’s slow on the uptake, isn’t he?
This is the only miracle of the post-resurrected Lord to be recorded for us in the Bible. Perhaps Jesus did other miracles, but Scripture is silent on that point. Anyway, I find this miracle of the fishes very comforting and very instructive for us today. Let me tell you why. Usually Jesus did miracles to demonstrate His divine power and reveal His identity—while assisting hurting bodies and souls in the process. But here He has no need to reveal His Godliness as the resurrection was the ultimate proof. Nonetheless, He does this miracle. Why? Because “He’s the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” In short, His love for downtrodden sinners hasn’t changed since He suffered on a cross for them and died to save their souls. His compassion for tired, hungry people hasn’t changed since He fed the 5000. His concern for disheartened funeral mourners hasn’t changed since He raised Lazarus from the dead. His merciful heart hasn’t changed since He hurled seven demons out of Mary Magdalene. And that also means His concern, care, and compassion towards you and me hasn’t changed one bit since He rose from our graves and ascended into heaven. He may be physically absent from our lives, but He’s not gone. He’s present in Word and Sacrament with the same miraculous power to help and heal. He never forgets about us and never forgets to supply exactly what we need at the exact moment when it’s most needed. Yes, “He’s the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” He’s not like an absent landlord that we cannot contact when the water heater leaks. No, He’s as “hands on” today as He was when He trod the earth. Moreover, He’s just a prayer, a thought, a momentary wish away. He’s God. He reads our minds and sees our every need.
We know that most of the disciples were probably single men, but a few like Peter were married and had families. Supporting those families must have been hard during their sojourns with Jesus. Perhaps the money bag that Judas kept assisted. In any case, a big haul of fish would certainly help balance out everyone’s bottom line. So the 153 LARGE fish they caught that day was literally a God send!
Getting back to Peter, John isn’t quite as slow on the uptake as to the identity of this man and says: “It is the Lord!” Peter hears this, immediately jumps out of the boat and swims/wades to shore. Again, the legend of impetuous Peter is confirmed, isn’t it? Peter needs the physical presence of Christ with him, especially after his multiple denials a few weeks before. He needed to know that their relationship was back on track. Just being with Christ helped heal His hurting soul. Isn’t that a picture of you and me as we come to commune? The real presence of Christ confirms to us again this morning that: “By His wounds, we are healed.”
Next, after getting that fish largesse to shore and counting them out—153—Jesus says: “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” He has a small fire burning on the shoreline, so they clean the fish, broil them and eat. They engage in the seemingly mundane of having breakfast. This again confirms the physicality of Christ’s resurrection. It wasn’t just some ghostly apparition before them. We’re also told: “None of the disciples dared asked him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord.”
My friends, we live in a constantly changing world with no immoveable rock to cling to—except our Lord Christ! Friends fail, investments go down, physical strength lessens, emotional stability yo-yo’s, moth and rust take their toll don’t they? But our resurrected Rock of salvation never changes. He’s always there to help, heal, listen, and comfort. That’s the truth of our lesson today. Yes, “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.” Amen