A series of reflections on Jesus’ resurrection appearances, contributed by past and present Pepperdiners. We may have a few on John 21, but am grateful for a “bonus” from Seaver alumnus Rob Sheehy.
John 21: “Chillin’ on the Beach”
One of my favorite things about spending a weekend with my brother-in-law’s family at their place in northern Wisconsin is coming back from an evening of Musky fishing and sitting by the campfire. In those evenings all the cares of normal life, projects at work, the obligations of parenthood, the balance in the checkbook and the bills that threaten to consume it, seem to vanish in the wind-blown smoke that occasionally forces a re-arranging of the lawn chairs. The weightiest decision is s’more or no s’more, and if s’more, do I have it with the traditional Hershey bar, or a Reese’s (if you haven’t had a s’more with a Reese’s, you have to try it sometime.) Just chillin’ with only the sounds of our laughter and nature in the Wisconsin Northwoods. All is as it should be.
In the final chapter of his gospel story, John shares a similar moment with us, albeit on a beach. Jesus meets his most faithful companions for the third time since Easter Sunday. This time there’s no hiding in a secret room. All is out in the open. The disciples had been out fishing (unsuccessfully, just like me) when they encounter Jesus chillin’ on the beach with a fire and a cookout going. Of course, at first they don’t know it’s Him, so He reveals Himself in what seems to be his final miracle before returning to the Father. He tells them to give the fishing thing one more shot, and they can barely contain the bounty in their nets. Jesus has them put some of their catch on the fire, and you know those had to be the most awesome, meaty, tasty fish those men had ever seen or consumed. From there, for all intents and purposes, it’s pretty much Miller Time. Jesus and the disciples just hang out together on the beach, enjoying the fish, the fire, and the fellowship.
About the only other thing that happens here is the resolution of a little unfinished business between the Lord and his “rock” disciple. Days earlier, Peter had, in guy terms, struck out three times with the bases loaded. In the peace and calm of that time together, Jesus gives Peter his chance at getting it right. Just as his biggest failure, denying his Lord, happened by the fireside, so does Peter’s comeback moment. Jesus sends him back to the plate not once, not twice, but three times, and each time Peter responds with a bigger grand slam affirmation. Jesus knows his main man is ready for his mission. All is as it should be.
Here in this last story of the Lord among mankind, we get a rare glimpse of something that I believe actually happened quite a bit during Jesus life and ministry: just hanging out and sharing time together. Jesus knew His time was short but before He left, He wanted to share with those most precious to Him one more good time. Soon enough the cares of His commission to them would become their focus and demand their very lives. But first, He made sure that for one last time, it was just Him and the boys, with hardly a care in the world. I believe He treasured those moments with those men more than any other aspect of His human experience. He couldn’t pass up one more chance to just hang with His friends, being one of the guys, whatever that meant in His time. How refreshing and assuring for the disciples, after the turmoil of Good Friday and beyond, to be back with the Master in a normal setting. All is as it should be.
As we go about our Christian lives, trying to be people of faith and doing the Lord’s will, we too experience turmoil, fear, and uncertainty. Often our time with Jesus becomes a lot of petitioning, casting of cares, questioning what His will is for us. Instead, how great would it be to just pull up a seat next to the fire with Him. That’s what He treasures most from us. That’s what our quiet time is meant to be. As much as He loved the disciples, He loves us just as much. Next time being a fisher of men has you worn out and frustrated, remember, Jesus is waiting for you to come hang out with Him, just chillin’ on the beach, not a care in the world. All is as it should be.
Rob Sheehy is a ’93 graduate of Seaver College, and a novel-writing husband/father/Information Technology Consultant/sports fanatic/Star Wars freak/golf enthusiast, in roughly that order. He also volunteers as an Assistant Football Coach for a local high school and has previously coached at Concordia University Wisconsin. He lives in Saukville, Wisconsin with his wife and daughter, and when not working, coaching, or writing, he can be found with his family at home, on the golf course, at a sporting event, or traveling on vacations around the country. Rob occasionally shares his thoughts on being an everyday guy trying to live the Christian life on his blog: A Disturbing Lack of Faith.