Breakfast on the Beach
My very favorite episode in scripture: John 21. It has everything- action, a miracle, an odd wardrobe move, a weird number, a fish breakfast by the sea, a mystery, and a restoration. And, of course, it has the Lord Jesus. What could be better than that?
This all takes place after the crucifixion and resurrection. Jesus has already appeared to the disciples twice before. It is not entirely clear how much time has passed between the second time and this time. But I get the sense that the disciples are restless, particularly Peter, who decides to go fishing and is joined by the others. They fished all night and caught nothing (sound familiar?). Then morning came, and they saw a hazy figure on the beach and heard a voice across the waves—“Have you caught anything?” “No,” they reply to whoever it is, and then the voice says, “Cast your nets off the right side of the boat, and you will catch some” (sound familiar?). They obeyed, whoever it was, and netted such a huge catch that they couldn’t pull up the net (sound familiar?). At this point, John finally realizes that it is Jesus calling out to them (apparently for some reason they didn’t recognize his voice before) and Peter puts ON his outer garment (why?) and plunged into the sea and swam to shore. He had to swim about 100 yards, and the rest came following in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. They caught the sight of a charcoal fire and the aroma of roasting fish. Jesus told them to bring some of the fish they had just caught (apparently he hadn’t brought enough for everybody). They counted the fish and there happened to be exactly 153 (why in the world John chose to give the exact number, I have no idea). Jesus then called them to breakfast. Can you imagine?
Then the mystery: “[N]one of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord.” I have to say this is one of the most mysterious verses of scripture—at least to me. I mean, if they knew for sure who it was, then why did John write this? It seems as if they knew in their heart of hearts that it was Jesus, but for some reason still had some shadow of doubt. The way this verse reads, it suggests that they WANTED to ask who he was, but dared not to-- for they really knew. After all, he had just performed a miracle that was very similar to one they had seen before. But SOMETHING about Jesus gave them pause-- even though they had seen him twice before in his resurrected state. Something about this has always fascinated me. Maybe it’s just because I’m weird and think too much. But regardless of the mystery, I still maintain that this was the best breakfast ever known in the history of the world.
I love to read John 21 whenever I need a little peace (I dare you to read it and not feel more relaxed than when you started). But I especially love to read it when I need to feel a little closer to Jesus. Something about the way He is portrayed in this chapter just resonates with me. Here we have the King of kings and Lord of lords on a beach cooking a fish breakfast for his friends. That is just like Jesus. But there is still this air of mystery and awe surrounding Him—perhaps an element of fear. But not bad fear—good fear.
You see, it is good to have a healthy fear of Jesus. He is our friend, but he is not our “buddy.” He is the Lord! And He is the King. But not a nasty overbearing sort of a King, but a King we should joyfully and willingly die for, if called to do so. In America, we are not used to kings. But if you have seen The Lord of the Rings, or The Chronicles of Narnia, you can get a sense of this good sort of king in Aragorn and Aslan.
Speaking of Narnia, I’ll close this out with a passage from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It’s is one of my favorites:
“Who is Aslan?" asked Susan.
"Aslan?" said Mr. Beaver, "Why don't you know? He's the King…”
“Is -- is he a man?" asked Lucy.
"Aslan a man!" said Mr. Beaver sternly. "Certainly not. I tell you he is the King of the wood and the son of the great Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea. Don't you know who is the King of Beasts? Aslan is a lion -- THE Lion, the great Lion."
"Ooh!" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he -- quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion."
"That you will, dearie, and no mistake," said Mrs. Beaver, "if there's anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they're either braver than most or else just silly."
"Then he isn't safe?" said Lucy.
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver. "Don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."