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“Then as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish on it and bread.”   John 21:9

This particular interaction chronicled in John has so many aspects to it.  There is of course the reinstatement of Peter after his denial of Jesus after His arrest.  There is the commission to go out and feed His lambs.  Yet there is another aspect that intrigues me that I have not heard spoken of much.

For Jesus at this point has already shown Himself as the Risen Lord.  To His disciples there can be no doubt that He is the true Son of God; the Christ.  With that sure and true knowledge, it would seem only natural (that is to say worldly) that Jesus should command more tribute and outright servitude.  Although they had not caught any fish, they were probably still dirty from the activity of letting out and bringing in the nets.  Being a dirty profession, they were also minimally if not shabbily dressed.  Once they realized that it was their Lord Jesus Christ, should they have not been compelled to go somewhere and bathe and put on clothes more appropriate for being in His presence?  Especially after all Jesus had done for them; had He been an earthly king, He would have demanded a response from them that showed a much greater amount of respect and servitude.

So let’s explore how Jesus Christ actually handled this.  First, He did not summon them to some great audience with Him.  No Jesus Christ came to them and in fact He waited for them to finish their task of fishing, before He made His presence known.  Next, Jesus did not command that they come into His presence with gifts of great tribute or presents of great wealth.  No, Jesus knew that they had come back from their quest empty handed.  Jesus Christ again wanted to teach them; through blessings, the difference between human centered effort and Jesus centered effort.  For on their own, they had no fish.  Once they followed the direction of Jesus Christ, their nets were over flowing.

Finally, and this is the part that I find so blessedly generous as well as surprising (although based on Jesus’ life and teachings I probably shouldn’t be surprised), Jesus did not demand that they fall on their knees, drop everything and serve Him.  Later Jesus would lay out for Peter the direction of service that He wanted Peter to fulfill out of Love.  But what did Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God do first?  He served them.  Jesus, the Creator, had food waiting for His created.  There was a fire for warmth, as well as fish and bread waiting for them to fulfill their earthly need for sustenance.  Is that not amazing?  The disciples would end up giving life long, love filled and all inclusive service and worship (as they and we should) to Jesus Christ.  However, even as He did throughout His pre-death life, Jesus, the Risen Lord provided the humble example of serving them first.

Dear brothers and sisters; what are we to take from this?  I believe that we can take great assurance from this interaction with His disciples.  Remember how just a few days earlier, Jesus had prayed for Himself, prayed for His disciples, and then prayed for all of us who would come to believe in Him as well.  Out of His Amazing Love, Jesus will provide abundantly such that our “nets” will be overflowing.  I believe that Jesus stands ready to be in relationship with us; to serve as needed.  But here is an equally vital point for us to understand.  Jesus Christ does this out of Love; Love that is in Him and that He has seen from the Father.  He does not do this because we are deserving of His blessings and service.  Thus we should have no since of pride or entitlement based on Jesus’ actions.

It is critical, for our sake, that our response should be that of humble, total worship and love in return.  Jesus knows that we are not capable of a perfect response.  He knows that our actions in response, even our repentance would be imperfect.  He died to perfect it.  That does not, in any fashion, relieve us from the responsibility, which we should undertake with joy and thanksgiving, to live a life of service and repentance in response.  It is in that life so lived, that we bring the justified praise to the life of Jesus Christ and to the Name of the Father, whose plan Jesus Christ carried out.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that You, the Creator, would consider us, Your Creation.  We are in awe that You not only consider us and our lowly state, but that You sent Your Son to live among us, to provide us the perfect example of service to You and each other.  Through Your Spirit, help us to live out that example of service in our lives; reaching up first to You in all that we do, and then reaching out in service to each other.  That the lives we live would bring praise to You we pray.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen

 

“But as his part is who goes down to the battle, as shall his part be who stays by the supplies, they shall share alike.”  1 Samuuel 30:24

“Friend I am doing you no wrong.  Did you not agree with me for a denarius?  Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?”  Matthew 20 13, 15

“I was saved when I was but ________ years old.  I volunteer on _______________ committees.  I have been on ____________ mission trips.  So and so only shows up to church on Sundays.  So and so doesn’t tithe.”  Have you ever heard these types of statements among believers in your faith community.  Please don’t misunderstand me, there is nothing wrong about having a long relationship with Christ, serving on committees or doing mission trips.  Also, tithing can be commendable as well as being at church more than just on Sunday.  But let’s delve more into scripture.

David is on the march.  While he and his men were away from their home city, a group came and ransacked it kidnapping all their families and stealing their possessions.  After first getting the approval from God, David and six hundred set out to retrieve their families and possessions as well as teach the invaders a lesson.  David’s army  finds the intruders and attacks.  The army is victorious but some of the enemy has fled and needs to be pursued.  However, 200 men are so weary from battle they can not continue.  Plus David can not carry all of spoils of his first victory with them so somebody has to stay back to gaurd them.  400 men continue on, finding the intruders, completely annihilating them plus taking a considerable amount of treasure back with them.  The 400 men who went with David now come back to the 200 men who were too weary to go with the army.  A few men (the bible describes them as wicked and worthless) tell David that the 200 men who did not follow David into the second battle deserve no share in the great spoils of the second victory.  That may seem reasonable to us.  We may see these folks as slackers or lazy.  David does not.  He replies that they provided a necessary function, albeit a different one and thus deserve the same reward, the same respect.

Jesus’ parable has a similar message.  Workers are hired to do a job and they agree upon payment.  Some work the entire day and some less, some significantly less.  It was not as if the ones who came later in the day, again were slackers or lazy.  It was they had not had the opportunity to be selected to go to the field.  The workers who had worked the entire day are paid their agreed upon wage.  When they see that the ones who had worked less than the entire day get the same, they feel cheated.  While they get exactly what was promised them, what they started the day believing was fair,  comparing themselves to others causes that which they agreed upon to be no longer sufficient.  The all day workers believe they are better, more deserving than the one hour workers.  The Master is not fair.

Comparison and judgement are very dangerous practices that can lead each of us to an evil place.  I do more so I deserve more.  I am smarter than you so I should be compensated more.  The amount I give is substantially more than you so I should receive much higher praise.  That is the way of the world.  For so often in the way of the world, I work harder and longer just so I can earn more money.  I get a higher education, not for education’s sake but so that I am more marketable.  I spend more hours with the expectation of higher reward.  It is natural in the world to do those things, not with the intent of service, but with the intent of return on investment.

Our Heavenly Father teaches us, both through His Son Jesus Christ, as well as throughout His word in the bible, that the way of faith is vastly different.  That difference is derived by and through intent.  There is a need.  That need may have to do with  time for a committee, playing of music, giving of money, listening and being with a fellow believer, traveling to do work and countless other needs.  God has given us all talents.  Yet those talents are very diverse and not always obvious to our eyes.  God has also given us His true Love.  It is from and through His Love that we are drawn to meet those needs.  Our intent is service and the more pure that intention is, the less we feel any sense for the need of reward and/or praise.  I do as I am called, knowing full way that my brother and sister receive different callings and it is wrong for me to judge them based upon what my calling is and what talents I have been given to use.

Dear brothers and sisters there is another great truth.  And that truth is that God is not stingy or miserly with His blessings.  He gives.  He gives constantly and generously.  He also gives based on what He perfectly knows is what is the best for us.  That someone else seems to be receiving more, in a worldly sense, is just that; the worldly sense.  There is no need to compare because God Almighty gives abundantly to meet everything we need.  Let us strive to cast off the world and its precepts of fair and live a life of gratitude in service.  A life acknowledging the greatest gift we all have; the gift of Jesus Christ as our savior.  Praising God for all He provides, to all of His creation.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, You are Gracious and quick to supply all that we need with great abundance.  Forgive us Most Merciful Father when we look at the blessings of others and covet them with a belief that they should be ours as well.  Pour out Your Spirit of Discernment that we would come to understand the particular talents which you have provided as well as the perfect individual blessings You shower down upon us.  That our lives would be a testament service and praise to Your Most Holy Name.  We pray in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen

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