I love the spectacular. But this season, I am learning that God works through ordinary means. Perhaps the quarantine has forced me to see that God is not limited by what I perceive as small.
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus walks as a stranger with two disciples. He does not perform any miracles. There are no angels or heavenly voices. He walks and talks with them. Then later, as they sit together at a table to enjoy a simple meal, in the ordinary act of breaking bread, these two disciples realize that they had spent the night with God himself. And one lesson we learn is that wherever and whenever we make room, Jesus comes. There is no need for a show. Although God works miraculously and supernaturally, he is not the only means he uses. Look at our passage for this Sunday in John 21: 1-14.
Juan paints a simple and beautiful portrait for us. Sunrise by the Sea of Galilee. Seven simple men who fish and their apparent chronic failure. On the shore of the beach, we see fish roasted over a charcoal fire, and it is because Jesus, to everyone’s surprise, has entered this daily scene. His words are simple: “Come to breakfast.” A simple but majestic image of the resurrection.
Perhaps the last place these fishermen expected to see Jesus was on the shore of this humble beach. Jesus could be anywhere. He could make a show of striking down those who killed him. But instead, he goes to the beach to have breakfast with his friends.
Not With Blind Faith
If you have been following us here on the blog or in the services, you know that we have been seeing the appearances of Jesus after his resurrection. This last Easter Sunday, we will see a little mentioned apparition. This appearance is not even mentioned in the gospels and is barely mentioned by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15. And although he does not give us many details, the implication of this appearance is enormous. Read the following quote and pay attention to verse 6.
For, first of all, I transmitted to you what I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the twelve. Later he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at a time, most of whom are still living, although some have died.
Perhaps you thought that the appearances and the resurrection of Jesus were something private or something that the first Christians believed with blind faith? But if we have learned anything this Easter, the first Christians were as skeptical as the modern person.
Juan tells us that when Maria discovered the empty tomb, she thought the body had been stolen. Luke tells us that the disciples treated the resurrection account as nonsense. The resurrection was hard to believe. This is perhaps why no apostle calls us to believe in it with blind faith.
The apostles encourage us to think and use our powers of logic. Look at what the verses that Paul writes imply: “I have seen the Lord, Cephas has seen him, the apostles have seen him, but if you want to investigate further, Jesus appeared to more than five hundred at the same time. He goes and asks them. Many still live.”
Remember that Paul writes this in a public document. This was a letter to the church in Corinth. It was not a private event. It was not something the apostles wanted Christians to accept on blind faith.