Week 30: Chapters 28 &29
Curtain Call: The Shepherd Returns
At Easter, there is much focus on the Crucifixion of Christ. Dr. Bruce, however, skips over that part and moves to Christ’s overcoming the grave. In the next two chapters, Jesus returns to his despondent crew and shows them what their future holds. While one might expect jubilant warriors awaiting their conquering King, Jesus, upon returning, finds Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, and their friends from the Hundred Acre Wood.
After hearing from the women, that Jesus was alive, as the Bible states, “they believed not” (Mark 16:11). Even after they were confronted with the testimony of the disciples on the Emmaus Road, who had seen and talked to Jesus, the twelve (now eleven) were not convinced (Mark 16:13). It was only when Jesus came in through the wall, that their Herculean denial was broken. Even then, Thomas of Didymus, the embodiment of Eeyore himself, could not believe until he saw and handled Jesus’ battle scars.
Here was a group of people who spent three years with Jesus. He talked and talked about what would happen and what they were to expect. It was only after extraordinary evidence and repeated proofs that they were willing to believe. Their own absorption in their own feelings prevented them from seeing the evidence that would obliterate their depression and grief. They were their own worst enemies. Are we not just like that? Our emotions obscure the reality that could save us a lot of pain. I encourage you to read the Scripture this week. Put yourself in the disciples’ sandals. Try to imagine what you would have done if you had been there. Try to imagine this same sort of thing happening in the 21st century. What would be different? What would be the same? Who would you be most like and why? How much evidence would you require to be convinced?
Once the eleven were convinced of His return, Jesus focused His attention on growing His disciples into Apostles. They would need tools to be able to carry out their assignments in His stead. So what did these new postulates do after realizing Christ was back from the dead? They went fishing….of course! Ok, Crisis over, the Fishing Club convenes.
While sitting and waiting for the fish to bite, they had time to rethink this Apostleship thing. They had a lot of time to think because the fish were not biting. Did they want the trouble of what was to come? Jesus was about to show up and shake things up…and as usual teach them a lesson.
Jesus’ timing, impeccable as usual, brings Him to the beach as they were resigning themselves to a night with no fish. Jesus tells them to put down the nets on the side of the boat where they had been fishing all night. They humored Him and much to their surprise, the nets immediately filled. What a surprise! When Jesus is hungry, everybody eats.
After supplying the meal, Jesus sits down to eat with His men, just as He had done a few days before on the Passover. True to form, Jesus used this time to communicate to his troops His new intentions. He first began by addressing Peter’s former bravado about being more faithful than the other eleven. Much to Peter’s chagrin, the Lord set the scene, through the meal, and the subsequent three questions, to drive home to Peter exactly how weak Peter’s greatest bluster was. Furthermore, it reminded Peter that Jesus had called him to shepherd the sheep, and not to use them for his self-aggrandizement. The three questions Jesus asked paralleled the three times that Peter denied Him, and the wording of the questions (from unconditional “agape” love to brotherly “phileo” love) told Peter that Jesus was willing to condescend to Peter, and love him even though Peter did not earn that love. It is in this confrontation, and in the loving acceptance in which Jesus restores Peter, that we see the great love that God also has for us (Romans 5:8).
Even though Jesus knows of our shortcomings, He loves us and wants us to be in relationship with us. He calls us to a higher plane and enables us to go Above and Beyond what we could possibly hope or imagine. Jesus calls us to shepherd as we have been and are being shepherded. As we do this, Jesus leads the way and provides the power.
After the encounter, Peter finally had the humility of heart that would qualify him as a servant leader in God’s Kingdom. As servants, we are to obey. As sheep, we are to follow the Shepherd. As shepherds, we are to serve the sheep. Jesus’ final instructions were to come next…..what do you think they were?
Are you ready for Easter? Or have you gone fishing?
See Ya Next Time