It’s hard every year to approach the cross and the resurrection in a new and refreshing way. It’s like it is something that is always before us as Christians and yet it is before us to the extent that we almost become immune to it. So when we stop for one week a year to really focus on it it’s hard to know just what to say. It is the deepest and most necessary part of our entire faith and yet there are sometimes when it feels like the most theologically trivial. And it is about the resurrection of a dead man! How nontrivial is that?
Thinking on this I was struck at the events recorded in John 21:
After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 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 as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on 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 of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. . . . This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21.1-8,14)
Notice what is happening here. Several of the disciples are out fishing, not having much luck, when the risen Christ comes by, unidentified by the fishermen, in order to perform a miracle. Once the miracle is completed John recognizes the man speaking to them as Jesus and tells this to Peter, who unceremoniously grabs his clothes and dives off the boat, rushing ashore to Christ. Old enthusiastic Peter is spazing out again, splashing through the water, impatient to be with Jesus on the land.
Seeing this, one might think it is recounting the first time that Peter had seen Christ since he rose, but look what it says in v.14: “This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead(!)” Peter knew Jesus had risen, he had already seen him resurrected (twice actually!) and yet seeing him again the third time Peter is so filled with joy that he quite literally goes overboard with emotion trying to get to him. This may seem overdramatic, but in looking at it, that is where my heart needs to be this Easter– thankful that Christ is risen and that I am able to draw near to him just as Peter did.