This Sunday's sermon was on what is one of my all-time favorite Scripture passage, John 21. Passion Week is over; the Resurrection is over. Everything is over. And the disciples go fishing.
I've seen commentators make out from this that the disciples were somehow slacking off on the job and returning to their old way of life. Not sure what's up with Jesus, guys; let's go back to work. I disagree. No other group of humans has gone through such a tumultuous week as the disciples had, with death turned to life and eternity shaken and the world turned upside down. But if I ever did have such a week, I can tell you where you'd find me after it was all over: at the kitchen sink, washing the dishes.
Sometimes when the heart and spirit have had all they can bear and more, the body needs to take over for awhile. You need to work until it hurts. So, I think, the disciples needed to do something hard, something familiar, something that would give their minds time to sort through all that had happened. They went fishing.
Jesus, who knew them not just as a detached omniscient deity, but as a friend, knew they would be fishing. He is waiting for them, on shore. He greets them with the same little trick of a miracle he used when they first met, like an old joke between friends. Once again they have fished all night and caught nothing, once again Jesus fills the nets with fish as morning breaks.
Here is none of the flash and show of signs you would expect from a resurrected God; here are only the homely miracles of fish in the nets and a fire lit on the shore. Jesus, his deity confirmed forever, is standing by the barbecue, wearing an apron.
No doubt our spiritual needs are the greatest, and it is those Jesus came to fill. But he also knows that we cannot feel them so acutely as we can feel our tired feet and empty bellies. So he starts there, even with his oldest friends. First, we eat. Then we can talk. Here is our God; here is the one who puts every meal on the table and every fish in our nets; here is our friend.