"Deliver me, O Lord."
(adapted from Psalm 120:1)
2 Samuel 19:11-20:13
After mourning the death of his son Absalom, David wants to make sure that the people recognize that he is still king. And he is. Thousands rush to meet him as he crosses over the Jordan. David grants amnesty to an opponent and shows kindness to Saul's grandson.
All is not harmonious. The people of Israel and Judah speak resentful words about each other, then Israel decides to follow a different leader. David sent Joab to take care of that. He did.
The disciples believed--they had seen the risen Jesus for themselves.
How does belief change people?
These disciples, among the closest to Jesus, go back to their regular lives. They had been fishermen, and now they are fishing again.
We heard the resurrection story on Easter Sunday. We heard it read from the Bible, spoken from the pulpit, and sung by the choir.
What was the Monday after Easter Sunday like for us? How does our belief change us? Certainly we go back to whatever is our fishing. But, has something changed for us? Have we changed in some way?
Even after Jesus speaks to them, they don't know it's him. Yet, they do what he says to do. I'm not sure what John intended for us to get out of that.
In any case, when they do what Jesus tells them to do, things work out well for them. Let's me careful about using this juxtaposition to prove that the prosperity gospel is true after all. Yet, as many commentators point out, it is a good story for us to remember during Eastertide. They had no hope. Jesus appeared. They listened to him. Abundance.
They had not recognized Jesus when they saw him or when he spoke. But, now with their net overflowing with fish, they are able finally to know that he is with them.
Allen & Williamson, in their Preaching the Gospel, point out that:
The Beloved Disciple, the important authority figure for John's community, recognizes Jesus; he who had believed without seeing Jesus (20:8), now sees Jesus, whereas Peter, who had believed because he saw Jesus, does not this time recognize him.Peter responds immediately by jumping in the sea and swimming toward Jesus who is standing on shore. Or, almost immediately--he does get dressed first. I think the fishing naked is significant, but I have no theories about why.
Appearance of Jesus. Then abundance.
They share a meal.
When they finish this meal, Jesus asks Peter the question that Christians continue to face, "Do you love me more than these?"
[Tangent--is he asking if Peter loves him more than the others do or is he asking if Peter loves him more than he loves the others? I'm going with the second reading--I suppose because that seems to be the way most commentators do & my Greek is no longer up to connotations.]
Earlier in John's gospel, Peter had denied two times even knowing Jesus (18:15-17, 25-27; but John did include the saying by Jesus that Peter would deny him three times (13:36-38). Now, Peter affirms his love three times.
When Jesus foretold his denial, Peter had insisted that he would lay down his life for Jesus. Now that Peter has a much clearer idea of what following Jesus could entail he once again declares his allegiance. He was confident at first. Then he wavered. Now he once again is certain.
What Jesus asks of Peter is to feed his sheep. Peter is not the last follower to be asked to do this.
How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
The highway of the upright avoids evil;
those who guard their way preserve their lives.
Prayer for Today: O Lord, strengthen our faith and our willingness to do what faith demands. Amen.