What happened next? Part 1
“After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.” Acts 1:3
Just over a week ago we celebrated Easter. It was a truly joyful service at HTR; it was wonderful and special, and do catch up online if you weren’t there! But that’s it, Easter’s over now for another year. The last hot cross buns have been eaten, the remaining Easter eggs on sale in the shops have now gone, routines are back after all the extra bank holidays and church services. Easter is finished, back to normal life. Or is it?
After Jesus’ resurrection, He stayed on earth for 40 days before returning to the Father (Acts 1:3). 40 days! Even after rising from the dead, He knew that His work on earth wasn’t quite finished, there was a bit of mopping up to be done! Jesus knew that the disciples were going to need a bit of help to understand what had just happened.
One lovely story that happened in those 40 days after Easter is in John 21:1-14, where Peter and some of the disciples are out fishing. I wonder why they were fishing. The Messiah had conquered death and yet they go back to their old jobs! Normal routines resume. Maybe they just needed to do something “normal” after all the drama. Or maybe they were questioning whether Jesus really was alive and so wanted the security of their old profession. Maybe they didn’t realise the implications of Jesus being alive, or maybe they were confused! Maybe they didn’t know what else to do. Whatever their reasons, they are at a crossroads where they can either let Jesus’ resurrection change their lives, or they can go back to how things were before they met Him.
In this story, despite fishing all night, they don’t catch anything, but the risen Jesus calls from the shore advising them to cast the net onto the other side of the boat, and sure enough they catch so many fish they can’t haul them in! If this sounds familiar, it is, because this is exactly what happens right at the very beginning of their adventure with Jesus, when Peter is first called by Jesus, and first starts to recognise that He is special, and leaves his old life to follow Jesus (Luke 5:1-11).
In this moment on the shore, the risen Jesus reassures them that He really is the Messiah, that He really is alive, that the adventure they had started a few years ago is not only still alive too, but is about to get even more exciting. And so, just as He had called them to follow Him at the beginning, now He was calling them again. I love the way He uses the same miracle to bring them back on track.
How do you feel now, a week or so after Easter Sunday? How do you feel about the story we heard about Jesus’ resurrection? Is it something you find easy to believe? Does it leave you with questions or feeling confused? Jesus stuck around to help the disciples make sense of what had happened, and make sure they grasped how important it was. He didn’t let them slip back into “normal” life, but helped them live a new life.
I find this so encouraging. Faith journeys can be up and down. We can have times where we really grasp the excitement of what it means that Jesus is alive, and perhaps we felt that on Easter Sunday, but then for all sorts of reasons (distraction, confusion, doubt) we can slip back into old routines. I love the fact that Jesus knows this will happen to the disciples, so He makes sure He is there to help. He knows it can happen to us too, and is ready to reassure us and guide us in whatever ways we need. Easter is not finished! In fact, it is just the beginning. And on Wednesday we’ll find out what Jesus did next!
Lord Jesus, thank You that You are alive and with us. Thank You that You are ready to help us to understand what that means. Lord, we ask that You would help us to live changed lives now we’ve heard afresh that You have conquered death. Amen.
Photo by Jasmine Waheed on Unsplash