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. John 21:9-13
In John’s Gospel there is no Last Supper as such, that is, there is no account of the first Eucharist. Jesus and the disciples do gather for the Passover meal, but he doesn’t offer bread and wine, doesn’t say, “Take and eat, this is my body, do this in remembrance of me.” What we have, apparently in its place is this wonderful account of a shore lunch with Jesus, after the Resurrection.
I remember a shore lunch that seemed quite close to paradise at the time. In August of 1989 Melanie and I went canoeing with her folks (Cynthia and Fritz) way up north in Saskatchewan – we were living in Regina at the time – in Davin Lake. We were out for about five days, if memory serves, and had a wonderful time, even if it was a little chilly at night. On our last day, paddling out, Fritz caught a perfect Lake Trout, big enough so that there was plenty for the four of us. We pulled over on an island where there had been fire a few summers before, so the wild blueberries were thick and beautiful, and ripe. Fritz cleaned and cooked that trout over a fire, in an iron skillet, and did it to perfection, while the rest of us gathered berries. Then we feasted. We feasted on the glorious food, yes, and on the beautiful scenery all around, on the joy of being healthy enough to be out there, and on great company. How I thank God for memories like that.
But that lunch shared with Jesus, shared by Peter and Thomas and Nathaniel and James and John and two others, really was a taste of paradise, because they dined with, in the presence of, the risen Lord Jesus. He prepared the food, gift of God’s creation, and then he fed them. Finally, reminding us of the Eucharist again, and its purpose, he reminded Peter, in the hearing of all, that we are fed, we are strengthened, we are blessed, by the presence of the risen Christ to serve, to love in his name. We are fed by Christ to love for Christ’s sake.
The same is true for us every time we gather together and share the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, the Eucharist; we are fed/strengthened/blessed by our crucified and risen Lord Jesus Christ, who gifts us abundantly of himself, more than we can ask or imagine (the breaking nets), so that we in turn may go out into the world in his name, to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God!