Sermon – 05-01-22 – Easter 3 – Cycle C
Scripture: Acts 9:10-20; Psalm 30; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:9-19
Sermon Title: “The Fish and the Lamb”
One Hundred Fifty-Three of them. One Hundred Fifty-Three Fish. This after no fish – nothing! 153 compared to 0 is a lot. In our day, 153 does not seem to be a lot of anything unless we are talking about a herd of elephants. But to these fisherman, 153 means a huge difference. So huge that it means recognizing the person who told them to change sides of the boat to put down the nets. Yes, we have Jesus here for his third appearance to the disciples after the surprising resurrection from death.
Not only does Jesus control the fish, Jesus serves breakfast, and Jesus eats with the disciples. You may realize that eating is important in proving that Jesus is fully alive after being fully dead. So now we have the fish part. What about the lamb?
No one was catching lambs that day and no one was eating lambs or sheep – at least not in the Gospel accounts. But we find lambs and sheep in a significant way in John 21 and in Revelation 5. Move backward with me to John 13:36-38.
Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered, “Where I am going, you cannot follow me now; but you will follow afterward.” Peter said to him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Very truly, I tell you, before the cock crows, you will have denied me three times. New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. http://nrsvbibles.org
Denial 3 times! We know he does it! Even Peter is surprised when the cock crows! What guilt Peter must be feeling! What sorrow on top of sorrow! But here, for the third time Jesus appears to this body of very close comrades. Until this third time we have no mention of Jesus approaching Peter individually. What must Peter be feeling? Maybe he is thinking his denial is not known to Jesus. Maybe he is thinking that Jesus knows but is kindly overlooking the denial.
Wrong! Jesus knows about the denial because Jesus is God and God knows everything. Jesus is not ready to approach Peter until this third time. Now in this intimate setting on the beach after breakfast, Jesus has this wonderful gift for Peter – the offer of forgiveness for the three denials. But, it is not free. Peter needs to say, “You know I love you” three times. Each time Jesus gives Peter a way to show his love – to prove his love. “Feed my lambs,” Jesus says. “Tend my sheep,” Jesus says. “Feed my sheep,” Jesus says.
And now a lamb is waiting for us in Revelation. This time the Lamb is Jesus Christ, our Savior. He became the sacrifice for our sins – not an animal lamb but the Holy Lamb. As the angels and four living creatures and the elders sing and bow in praise of this “lamb who was slain,” we too shall bow in humble obedience and offer our confessions for wrong doings and offer our praise singing, “Blessing and honor, glory and power! Worthy is Christ, the Lamb who was slain, whose blood set us free to be people of God. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!” Footnote: You may be able to catch these very words in our choir anthem today. Amen