“Come and have breakfast.” – John 21:12
Several weeks have passed since Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and has been making several appearances to his disciples. Amongst those appearances include Jesus walking beside two disciples on a road, mysteriously walking through a door to visit the 11 disciples in a home, and scaring the crap out of Mary Magdalene when she visited him at his burial site. But Jesus’ appearance in John 21 has got to be one of my favorites.
Several of the disciples went to the Sea of Galilee to go fishing. Fishing was the profession these disciples knew inside and out. In the midst of having their lives blown to pieces from Jesus’ betrayal, death, and resurrection, they return to an activity that gave them life.
Unfortunately, they caught nothing.
This had to have been one of those moments for the disciples we’re all to familiar with; you’re kicking around your feet, looking for something to do to get your mind off things. But once you finally land on something you think sounds fun, there’s something that still isn’t satisfying about it. You’re still restless.
This is when Jesus shows up. He walks onto the shore, and cries out in a loud voice, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they grumbled, not realizing it was Jesus who was calling out to them. Jesus then suggests they throw the net to the other side of the boat, and when they did, they weren’t even able to lift the net back into the boat because of the multitude of fish they caught.
That was when the disciples realized it was the Lord. Peter was so excited, he jumped out of the boat and swam to the shore to meet him there while the other disciples following behind him in the boat. Once they arrived, Jesus invited them to breakfast.
That’s so profound to me. Here is the risen Lord, the living Son of God and Conqueror of Death, utilizing his miraculous powers to catch a large number of fish just… to gather the disciples for breakfast… There is nothing magnificent about this moment. No grand sermon, no miraculous healing, no earth shattering revelations (aside from his appearance). This was simply a time to commune over a meal.
Yet the magnificence of this meal is what comes afterwards. The remainder of John 21 tells of Jesus reinstating Peter, asking him three times if Peter loves him to prove that he will feed his sheep and reach the lost. Jesus was sending Peter out on mission—but he gathered with him over a meal before he did so.
The disciples had to gather before they could scatter. This moment of communing while eating fish for breakfast in the safe space of the shoreline of their lifetime professions set the stage for the life-altering conversation of being sent out. Their community preceded their commissioning.
You can’t have the Great Commission without a Great Community.
I find there’s an immense importance in having a safe space to commune with spiritual friends and Christ in their midst. It’s the simple conversations from community in diners, coffee shops, homes, churches, gyms, parks, and shorelines that fuel the commission to make disciples and befriend the world. We’re friends with a God who created physical space; he deems the physical as equally beautiful to the spiritual. They go hand-in-hand. Therefore, the physical spaces we immerse ourselves in become the safe spaces of belonging that grant us the courage to embark into the dangerous world we’re commissioned to befriend.
More on this to come.