Worship Service – May 1, 2022

Scripture; John 21:1-19

Message; “The Last Breakfast”

John 21:1-19

Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

(1) Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: (2) Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. (3) “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So, they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
(4) Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
(5) He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.
(6) He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
(7) Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (8) The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. (9) When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
(10) Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
(11) Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. (12) Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. (13) Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. (14) This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
(15) When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
(16) Again, Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” (17) The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” (18) Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” (19) Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God.

There have been so many sermons written and theories given about the symbolism of this passage of scripture, that it’s almost hard to choose which to talk to you about today. I could talk to you about how John was the first to recognize Jesus and yet stayed in the boat, or why the other apostles decided to go fishing with Peter or even why Peter decided to go fishing or the imagery of Jesus sharing one more meal with his disciples. It is so easy to get caught up in trivial interpretations of scripture and miss the point.
Take a look at John 21:11: “Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.” Now, why in heaven’s name was there 153 fish? Have you ever wondered about that? No? Well others have.
Cyril of Alexandria in the 5th century said that the 100 represented the fullness of the gentiles, the 50 symbolized the remnant of Israel and the three of course was there for the Trinity.
Augustine’s theory (5th century) was a little more complicated. He said, there are 10 commandments and 7 is the perfect number of grace and that’s 17, right? Now if you add all the numbers from 1 to 17 together, you know 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 all the way up to 17 you’ll get 153. And not only that but if you were to arrange them with 17 fish in the first row, and 16 in the next row, and 15 in the next row, all the way down to a row of 1 you get a perfect triangle which of course symbolizes the Trinity.
Jerome, he also lived in the 5th century, suggested that there were 153 different types of fish in the sea, and it was symbolic of the church reaching all the people in the world.
Personally, I have my own theory, want to hear it? I think that it’s mentioned because there were 153 fish in the net.
That all being said let’s take a look at this “Last Breakfast”.
Did you know that May 1 is the beginning of Mental Health Awareness month. I only bring this up because recently I read a story about a mental asylum. Let me share it with you.
During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director how do you determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.
‘Well,’ said the Director, ‘we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub.’
‘Oh, I understand,’ said the visitor. ‘A normal person would use the bucket because it’s bigger than the spoon or the teacup.’
‘No’ said the Director, ‘A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?’
The Apostle Peter was not a normal person. He hadn’t been normal from the day Jesus entered his life. Starting at that first fishing miracle when Jesus told Peter to follow Him (Luke 5:1-11). That didn’t mean he was going to get a bed by the window in a mental institution. No, what it meant for Peter is that God had big plans for him. But in order to fulfill those plans, Peter had to let go of some things. One of which was the heart-rending heavy burden of his denial of Christ. So today, let’s look at how all that took place as recorded in John 21:1-19.
We know all about this miraculous catch and who was with Peter in the boat. One thing I like you to noticed in this passage was the description of Peter’s reactions and strength. When Peter realized it was Jesus on the shore, he put on his coat, his “outer garment” John tells us, and jumped in and swam as fast as he could. Now I ask you, who would put on their coat before they dove into the water especially if it was warm enough to fish without it?
Anyway, that left six disciples back in the boat. The catch of fish was so big they couldn’t haul it into the boat, so they just drug it, along with the boat as they took the boat to shore and tied up at the dock. But notice when Jesus says bring me some fish, Peter heads to the boat, grabs the whole net full of fish and drags it ashore himself. 153 large fish, probably Tilapia and its average weight is 5.3 lbs. and if you were to multiply that by 153 that would mean he was dragging 810.9 lbs of live flopping fish. More than 6 other men could get into the boat. Peter wasn’t a man to be trifled with. Here he is strong of body but he’s weak in his soul, probably because of what took place at another fire of burning coals.
You see there had been another encounter across from a fire of burning coals in Caiaphas’ courtyard when Peter denied Jesus, not once but three times before the cock crowed. And now, with the smell of the burning coals all around him, he stands in his guilt and shame across from another fire on the beach with Jesus.
There on the beach Jesus had breakfast ready. It would be the last meal they would ever share together, here on earth. They didn’t know that yet, but it would be, “The Last Breakfast”. And the significance of this “Last Breakfast”, for Peter was probably the most poignant moment in Peter’s life and ministry. Because that “Last Breakfast” of grilled fish and bread was laid out across a fire of burning coals.
Now, if you like the smell of fresh bread like I do, then you know that smell makes your mouth water. But I don’t think Peter had much of an appetite that day. I’m sure, Jesus was accustomed to the appetite one would have after a long night’s work. So, he offered them bread and fish. But in the offer, Jesus also knew of the deeper hunger that each of the disciples possessed. Hunger for truth; hunger for the love of God; hunger to know this truly was Jesus, risen and standing before them. So, just as he had offered himself to them every day of his earthly ministry, just as he had offered himself to them from the cross and just as he had offered himself to them in the broken bread of that final Passover meal, Jesus once again offers them himself, the bread of life.
He also offered them fish. Is it any wonder that the fish symbol came to be a symbol of Christianity? There was the fish from the loaves and fishes which fed 5,000 and 4,000. There were these two miraculous catches. There was also the fact that so many of Jesus disciples were fishermen. Fish seems an appropriate accompaniment for warm bread that morning.
We know that during the early days of Christianity, Christians were often put to death for practicing their faith, so they worshiped in secret places. A fish painted or etched on the outside door of a house let other Christians know that they would be safe and welcome inside. The ancient catacombs in Rome are filled with images of fish, carved there by Christians hiding from persecution. And maybe, just maybe, that’s what Jesus was letting the disciples know with the fish on that fire of burning coals. They were in a safe place.
Across from that fire of burning coals at that last breakfast, Jesus addresses Peter and it’s filled with questions and answers. Jesus says, “Simon Son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” So, just what was Jesus talking about?
Do you love me more than these other men love me? Do you love me more than you love these men? Or do you love me more than these things (fishing, fishing boat, nets, the gear and all the stuff of fishing.) Which one was it?
It was probably a little of all of them. When Jesus said that all of the disciples would desert him after his betrayal Peter had vehemently said, “I don’t care what these guys do. I won’t desert you, no matter what happens.” In a sense Peter had been claiming that his love for Jesus was greater than theirs. That he was better than them. But he did desert Jesus. Not only did he desert Jesus, he denied even knowing him, not once but three times. And then the cock crowed.
So when Jesus asked, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” Humbled, all Peter could say was, “Lord you know I love you.” As if to say, “Lord, I can’t say that any more. Not after what I did, but I do love you.”
With love, compassion, mercy, grace and forgiveness Jesus looked at Peter across those burning coals, with the smell of that denial still in the air and said, “Feed my lambs.”
Jesus is being very clear about Peter’s role of caring for the young flock of new Christians, the lambs. Peter was to feed and nurture them through his leadership and faith. Peter was no longer simply the apprentice shepherd, now the flock was his. Jesus was passing the mantle just as Elijah had done with Elisha. “Feed my lambs. Be the good shepherd that I was. Be willing to lay down your life for the flock as I did.”
As if once weren’t enough, a second time Jesus asks, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter must have been confused. He’d just answered that question. And yet Jesus was asking again. So, Peter didn’t hesitate, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Then Jesus replied, “Take care of my sheep.” Just in case Peter didn’t get it, he was a little hardheaded at times. His strength wasn’t the only reason Jesus called him ‘the rock’.
“Take care of my sheep.” Be the shepherd to this brand-new flock that is struggling right now. Be the shepherd I called you to be, and I know you can be. Tend my sheep.
Then a third time, Jesus asked, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” I wonder if the smoke of that fire shifted just about then. Or maybe it was the coals that shifted and sparked up as Peter heard the question and was stung to the very core. But whatever happened, I think Peter was drawn back to that scene in Caiaphas’ courtyard. Maybe another cock crowed. But I think, at that moment it all became clear for Peter.
He replied, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Peter must have been thinking, Lord, I can’t hide anything from you. I can’t hold anything back from you. You know I would take it all back and do something different if I could.
And then, when Peter looked across this fire of burning coals and locked eyes with Jesus for the third time, what he saw was different. It wasn’t loving disappointment. What he saw was an invitation into forgiveness. And it was an invitation back into the position of leadership for which Jesus had trained Peter.
Three acts of denial, three acts of redemption across a fire. With love and compassion, filled with redemption and forgiveness, Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” Jesus offered reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption. And in so doing, empowered Peter to be the leader he needed to be. What an awesome Savior we have.
Today as we celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion put yourself in Peter’s place. We’ve each smelled the smoke or our own denial. We each have those moments in our lives which only Jesus can redeem and forgive. Bring them to him today. Receive the bread Jesus has to offer, and experience that forgiveness for yourself.
No one has prepared a bed by the window for you. But Jesus has prepared bread for you. The bread of life.
Come. Breakfast is ready.
In His Service,
Pastor Joe
Listen To Audio: Sermon 20220501
Listen To Audio: Service 05012022
Call to Worship:L:  Christ asked Peter if he loved him.P:  Peter affirmed three times his love of the Lord.L:  Christ asks us if we love him.

P:  We affirm our love of the Lord in our worship

L:  Christ calls us to demonstrate our love in service.

P:  Lord, help us to witness to your love in the ways in which we care for others.


Prayer of Confession:   Almighty God, you have accepted our Lord’s sacrifice for our salvation.  By your power you have raised him from the dead.  We humbly confess that, while we know the story and believe it, it often has made too little difference in our lives, and at times we have been silent when we should have spoken of it.  Forgive us, we pray, of these sins.  Hear us in the name of our risen Savior.    Amen




Pastor Joe will be available at the church on Thursday Mornings from 10:30 to 12:30.  If you need to speak to him, contact Pastor Joe at 570-267-4570 (cell) or Email: joe.s.travis@gmail.com

Loose change goes to Local Mission.

CarNet Baby Bottle Mission runs until Sunday, May 22nd

Sunday School starts at 8:30am

Choir practice will be on Thursday at 9:00 A.M. 

Franklin Hill Cemetery Association annual meeting on May 10th at 6:00 P.M. in the Community Building

Presbyterian Women will meet on Thursday, May 12th at 11 A.M. There will be a covered dish banquet and all women are invited

Primary Election Day is May 17th.

Montrose Adult School presents:  The History of the Franklin Hill Presbyterian Church May 17th at 7:00 P.M.  Registration $5.00.

Men’s Breakfast Wednesday May 18th at 8:00 A.M.

Session will meet on Saturday, May 21st, at 9 A.M.

Newsletter Deadline – Tuesday, May 31st,  2022.

Please mark your envelope if you are contributing to the piano repair fund.


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