We are with the disciples this week basking in the light of resurrection glory. They have just experienced the most catalytic event in world history and are undoubtedly infused with victorious confidence. As a result, we might expect to find Peter and the others sporting matching t-shirts and plotting out a post-resurrection world take-over mission trip from a strategic operational base like Jerusalem.
It is not Jerusalem, however, where John’s Gospel concludes. Rather, what unfolds is a tranquil scene around a quiet morning breakfast on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
The first ever encounter between Jesus and Peter happened on these same shores where Peter had grown up (Mark 1:16-20). Now, in this final chapter of the Gospel of John, the last encounter on earth between Jesus and Peter occurs once again at the same place – back on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
We know from the other Gospel accounts of the resurrection that Jesus told the women to inform the disciples to return to Galilee because “they would see him there” (Matthew 28:7, Mark 16:7). In all the places Jesus could have chosen to have his final recorded earthly encounter with his disciples, he does so with a return to Galilee where it all began. Why?
On The Galilean Shore
The return to Galilee awakens in them an instinct for the local and the ordinaryーa sense that if the disciples were going to embrace life now in the new normal of resurrected reality, it was essential to start in the place they knew best, doing the work they knew best.
Peter reaches for the one thing he knows how to do when back home,“I’m going out to fish…” The others decide immediately to join him. Their return to Galilee provided an immersion into ordinariness, an opportunity to plunge into old routines, the familiar workplace of sea, nets, and fishing boats in order to fully experience and occupy the post resurrection missional calling upon their lives!
It all comes together in a breakfast invitation around a charcoal fire. Surely Peter would have remembered what had happened the last time he and Jesus were together around a charcoal fire. That evening was marked by betrayal. It became the darkest point of Peter’s life where three times he denied he knew or had anything to do with Jesus.
This time, however, the former stench of nighttime betrayal is replaced by the scent of abundant provision, forgiveness, restoration, and renewed commissioning. Peter, for as long as he would live, would surely never forget the link between that dark night of denial and this bright morning of grace in Galilee.
For some it can be very difficult to consider starting the Easter journey “at home” in Galilee. There are nets to pick up there that we’d much rather abandon for the more exciting adventure of “more important” opportunities somewhere else.
The truth of the matter, however, is that the resurrection is the beginning of our faith journey, not its end. In the light of Resurrection this third week of Easter, we, like the disciples, are invited to embrace our “Galilean shore” where Jesus invites us to an abundant breakfast of grace where there is forgiveness, restoration, and a renewed commissioning, born out of love.