May 1, 2022 – Third Sunday of Easter
The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor
Rush United Methodist Church
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?”
They answered him, “No.”
He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.”
So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off. When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.)
After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
| Centering Prayer |
When I was in seminary
I was afforded the privilege of
Serving as a student intern
At a community mental health organization
Where I was taught,
Over a three-year period,
The art of Psychiatric Assessment
For individuals suffering a psychiatric crisis.
The first year I observed.
The second year I took part.
The third year I led.
I had to write up every assessment
In a detailed, prescribed format.
My mentor, Dr. Thomas Ruth,
A leader in the field of crisis intervention,
Would debrief the assessment and intervention
One-to-one, teaching me the art and science
Of a good intervention, assessment, and referral.
I distinctly recall Dr. Ruth teaching me
That a good assessment is only as good as the moment it is conducted.
It is but a snapshot of a moment in time in the life of the individual.
It records the past.
Clarifies the present.
It gives an impression of a possible diagnosis
and a suggestion for safe treatment and care.
Yet it is nearly impossible to foretell the future.
A person may be a danger to themselves yesterday,
Be safe today,
But there is no way to know with absolute certainty
How dangerous they may be to themselves or others tomorrow.
Circumstances and context changes.
Drug and alcohol use changes with time.
Brain chemistry changes with seasons and aging.
People come into and out of our lives.
To live is to change.
Change is the difference between
Where you end up and
From where you started.
Mathematics has a name for change: Delta.
(The lower-case Greek is a squiggly d.
The upper-case Greek is a triangle.)
Here we are three weeks into the season of Easter.
We’ve heard the witness of Mary Magalene that she had seen the resurrected Jesus.
We’ve read the account of Jesus coming to the disciples locked in the upper room,
Not once, but twice,
To convince the previously absent Thomas,
To breath on them the Holy Spirit,
And sending them to forgive sins of those who seek forgiveness.
As you have journeyed from Lent,
Through Holy Week, and
Are now solidly engulfed in Easter,
My question to you is
“How have you changed?”
What is demonstrated in the post-resurrection accounts,
Including today’s narrative from the Gospel of John
Is that there is a delta relative to discipleship.
What it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ changed
Due to his resurrection.
Allow me to explain using the following table:
We can see the change, or the delta of discipleship relative to time.
There are four stages.
- Answering the call to discipleship: doing what Jesus had done
- Holy week: denial, betrayal, passion, and death
- Resurrection: witness, forgiveness, and feeding Christ’s sheep
- Ascension: making disciples, baptizing, and teaching
Let’s dig in!
1. The first stage of discipleship
Is the behavioral change that takes place
When one answers the call to
“Come follow me.”
This largely takes place during Jesus’ early ministry in Galilee and Samaria.
When one responds positively,
they are charged
With doing what Jesus had done:
Preach the Good News,
Teach what the Good News means and how it transforms lives,
Heal the sick,
Resurrect the dead,
Prepare and watch expectantly for the Lord’s return,
Focus discipleship ministry on those who are marginalized
(the outcast, sinners, the poor, and the least members of society).
2. The second stage of discipleship takes place when Jesus steps foot into Jerusalem and Holy Week begins.
On the graph I show this as a negative delta,
A negative change.
In other words,
Don’t do this.
Peter denies knowing Jesus.
Don’t deny Jesus.
As the old hymn says:
Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
the strife will not be long;
this day the noise of battle,
the next the victor’s song.
To those who vanquish evil
a crown of life shall be;
they with the King of Glory
shall reign eternally.
(UMH #514, v.4)
Judas betrays Jesus to the authorities.
Don’t betray Jesus.
Taring down the Church is a betrayal of Jesus.
If you’re not building up the Church,
Strengthening the Body of Christ,
You are doing it wrong.
You are betraying Christ
Just like Judas.
Members of organized religion cause Jesus to suffer degradation, torture, and humiliation.
The world, both church and state, killed Jesus dead.
3. Jesus rose from the dead completing Holy Week,
Leading to the third delta of discipleship.
In his post resurrection appearances
Jesus builds upon the foundational stage of discipleship
(Doing what he had done)
And adds witness, forgiveness, and feeding Christ’s sheep.
Jesus tells Mary, “Go and tell.”
Witness to the fact that you have encountered the risen Christ.
Christ had died.
Christ is risen.
Last week we heard Jesus tell his disciples to forgive or withhold forgiveness.
Forgive those who seek forgiveness of their sins.
Withhold forgiveness for those who resist forgiveness,
Presumably with the hope of future repentance and request for forgiveness.
Today’s narrative from the Gospel of John
We experience Jesus instructing Peter to feed his sheep.
Yes, his three-fold request matches Peter’s previous three-fold denial.
However, in the context of fishing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee,
With the catch of an astonishing amount of fish,
One is invited to think of abundance.
Feed my sheep with abundance,
Jesus is directing the first of the Apostles,
The emerging Apostolic leader of the birthing Christian Church.
The message is clear:
God is keeping God’s promise.
God is not giving up on us.
Jesus has confidence in Peter despite his shortcomings,
Just as Christ has confidence in you.
Feed my sheep harkens back to Jesus’ teaching
In the Tenth Chapter of the Gospel of John,
Where Jesus teaches that he is the Good Shepherd.
Today, Jesus looks Peter in the eye
And tells him, “now it’s time you become that good shepherd.”
It’s time for Peter to take over the work of Jesus.
4. Which leads us to the fourth change in discipleship,
Which will take place in the near future,
Upon the ascension of Jesus Christ
Into the heavens to be seated at the right hand of the Father,
The God of Creation.
Jesus uses this opportunity
To outline his final curriculum for mature discipleship.
He commissions his disciples, his followers to do three things:
Make disciples, baptize, and teach them everything that Christ has taught.
Jesus commission his disciples to go to all the nations of the world and make disciples.
Which is to say,
Lead people into a relationship with Jesus
And allow God to transform their heart.
Jesus commissions his disciples to baptize
And he tells us how to do it.
Baptize with water and the Holy Spirit.
Baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Baptism forever confirms Christian discipleship;
What God has done no one can undo.
Jesus commissions his disciples to teach all that Christ taught.
It is our responsibility to Train the Trainer,
For this generation to teach the next, and
When their time comes,
For them to teach those who follow.
Disciples are teachers.
Choose you course:
Children, youth, or adults.
Teach by both word and example.
Provide learning opportunities through activities of love and support.
This final, most developed phase of discipleship,
Sits on top of witnessing, forgiving, and feeding,
Sits on top of doing what Jesus had done,
And avoids the pitfalls of denial, betrayal, passion, and death.
Has your delta of discipleship kept pace
With Lent, Holy Week, and Resurrection?
In every stage of Christian development
Jesus speaks the language of love,
Acting with compassion and love.
Do the same.
You and I are taking over Christ’s work.
Speak the same language.
Love, just as Christ loves.
How does God love the world
Without the physical Jesus?
God loves the world through you and me.
Be the delta.
Be the change.
Together, we can.