I think I’m a pretty open minded fellow, but I’m always amazed at how narrowly I continue to read scripture. Your take today on John 21 seems so obvious I am confounded as to how I missed it before. I have to think that it is because I was already told what that passage meant – twice. First as a Catholic I was told that this was Jesus preparing Peter for his role as the first Holy Father.Then as a Protestant I was told that ‘feed my sheep’ meant spreading the Word – Evangelism. As well as Bob’s take on it – that Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him so that Peter can repent for the three times he denied him. It never occurred to me before that Peter was forsaking his ministry and returning to the ‘ways of this world’ – business as usual – and that Jesus was calling him out on it.
So why on Earth would we ever consider that this feeding had anything to do with actual food – in this case fish? Now I see that it’s all about food, especially when you consider the breakfast. It says that Jesus cooked the fish over a charcoal fire, not a drift wood fire. Did Jesus bring the charcoal? There is such a sense of intentionality about that meal and it ties into everything else in this story so beautifully.
Were Peter and the others back in the fishing business because, with Jesus gone, they had lost their sense of vocation? It makes sense. But, I don’t see Jesus rebuking Peter for becoming a fisherman again so much as telling him that in this capacity he needs to put service to others (by feeding them) above all else. Of course, Peter did leave his nets behind, again.
I couldn’t help being reminded of Matthew 25; all the goats confessing their love but only the sheep living it out. And how this seems to describe much of the Church for most of its history.
Oh, and I think you were right on the money with the whole ‘naked’ thing. Adam and Eve ashamed before God – Peter ashamed before his Lord. Very metaphorical. Fishing once again, Peter is literally caught with his pants down. Why WAS he naked? Was that the custom? Was this typical of 1st century Palestinian fisherman or was Peter just a… free spirit? I’ll have to look that up. Funny thing is, I don’t ever remember Peter’s nakedness in all the times I’ve read these passages before.
Good stuff, Heather. Thanks.