And Then ... Nothing Happened - and it was wonderful!
It came at the end of the Gospel of John. Seven of the disciples were sitting around and Peter decided to go fishing. What else should they do? They didn't have any clear plan. So ... fishing.
And they caught nothing. In the morning Jesus was on the shore and told them to cast the net to the right side of the boat, and there was an amazing catch. The story goes on and soon they are on shore; and there was a charcoal fire with fish and bread laid out on it. Jesus said, "Bring some of the fish that you have caught." and they did. Jesus said, "Come and have breakfast." and they did. (John 21:1-12)
And nothing happened ...
Do you know how fantastic this is?
Jesus was just there, having breakfast with them. No "Kingdom Business." No Great Commission, plans for evangelizing the world, or amazing miracles. Only breakfast. Jesus was taking time, just being with them. It was time to slow down and enjoy the moments; and that was true both for the disciples and for Jesus. Some bread. Some fish. Enjoying the taste, the warmth of the fire, and the company.
Actually this is "Kingdom Business." This is, at its heart, what the kingdom of God is. It's a theme that forms the "bookends" of the Bible, from the 3rd chapter of Genesis to the 2nd last chapter of Revelation.
In Genesis the Lord came walking in the Garden in the cool of the day. There was no more work of creating to be done. God was resting. And He came walking in the Garden to spend time with Adam and Eve. He created them to know God, to walk with God, to have fellowship (spending time together) with God, and to share with them all kinds of blessings (material and spiritual) for all eternity. But they had turned away, followed another voice, listened to other words and broke the fellowship that God had formed with them. What follows is the Great Quest; God pursuing and finding and wining and bringing us back. It would cost God sending His only-begotten Son; (John 3:16) and it would cost Jesus laying down His life for His friends. (John 15:13)
Finally, in Revelation, there is the voice from the throne; God exulting and saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God." (Revelation 21:3) Notice how God repeats it three times, "with man ... with them ... with them"! This is God's great desire and quest, to have us with Him and have the fellowship restored. He planned and arranged and has pursued this for thousands of years, going even to the death on the cross to have us with Him.
In between Genesis and Revelation, there is the Gospel of John. That Gospel begins with "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, ..." (John 1:14) It ends with "Come and have breakfast." (John 21:12) And nothing happened for a while. Only breakfast. Only Jesus being with them and they with Jesus.
It is quite remarkable that this is how the Gospels finish, breakfast and perhaps a walk along the beach ("And after saying this He said to [Peter], 'Follow Me.' Peter turned and saw the disciple ... who had been reclining at table close to him ..." (John 21:19b-20a)).
Think back to Genesis and how the Lord came walking in the Garden to spend time simply being with Adam and Eve. But that time together did not happen. It would take a few thousand years but there on the beach at the end of the Gospels God would finally have time being with us; with no work to be done, only time to spend together and enjoy His people.
There is a simple and quiet sweetness in this. And it helps to form our image of heaven and what it will be like when Jesus returns. That is a part of what it means to know the risen Lord Jesus, and why it is so sweet being a Christian.
Lord Jesus, thank You that you call me You own, and Your friend. Thank You for the promise of an eternity of life. And thank You that the sweetest part of salvation is to have You as my Friend. In my quiet times, and there are a lot of them right now, be with me and guide my soul, that my thoughts may turn to You. Amen.
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Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.