Fish and bread around the campfire- about simplicity in the kingdom of God.
Updated: Apr 20
"After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. Now he revealed himself like this: 2 Simon Peter and Thomas, called Gemini, and Nathanael, who was from Cana in Galilee, and the ⟨Sons⟩ of Zebedee and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter saith unto them, 3 I go fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. So they went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. 4 And when early morning was come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus therefore said to them: Children, do you have anything to eat? They answered him, No. 6 But he said to them: Cast the net on the right side of the boat. And you will find. So they cast it out, and could not draw it for the multitude of fish. 7 Then saith that disciple whom Jesus loved unto Peter, It is the Lord. Simon Peter therefore, when he heard that it was the Lord, girded on the outer garment-for he was naked-and cast himself into the lake. 8 And the other disciples came in the boat-for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits-and drew the net with the fish after it. 9 And when they were come out on shore, they see a fire of coals lying, and fish lying thereon, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them: Bring here of the fish which ye have now caught. 11 Then Simon Peter went up and drew the net full of large fish, an hundred and fifty-three, on the land; and though there were so many, the net did not break. 12 Jesus said to them: Come, have breakfast. But none of the disciples dared to ask him, Who are you? For they knew that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus comes and takes the bread and gives it to them, and likewise the fish. 14 This is already the third time Jesus revealed himself to the disciples after he was raised from the dead." ( John 21:ff, Elberfelder translation)
My dear friends,
the Lord and God of us all-our triumphant victor over Satan and death-surprised His disciples, dejected by the death of the cross (and the empty tomb), one morning-with breakfast.
How I love this story!
Everyone has their favorite Bible stories, don't we? I love this morning by the Sea of Galilee, when Jesus allows himself the fun of making himself known by the very same miracle in the very same place with which he once called his first disciples. "Cast the net". There, where everything began-there the circle closes.
Honestly, it brings tears to my eyes. It shows the deep connection and the lightness that Jesus now had. All accomplished. Now- let's have breakfast together. Enjoying our time. Clearing out failures. Confirming each other's love. Now- for a little while- I belong to you once again, my friends and companions.
Campfire and fish.
Jesus was revealed.
Only God himself can overcome death. No more persecution. No more hiding, no more withholding of authority. He now had the freedom to use his authority also for himself and not only for others - and he did it by appearing in different guises. In which he suddenly disappeared before all eyes. God on earth there stood on the shore- and invited his disciples to sit around the campfire, gutting fish and toasting bread?!
Jesus! Where is the banquet? The sparkling red wine? The overloaded buffet platters? The Sunday roast? "the table in the face of their enemies, the glass poured FULL"?
And where on earth are the angelic choirs????
Well, I smirk.
Right there, where the disciples pull the net to shore and count the fish, a big catch that will sustain them financially for quite a while.
Right there, where Peter throws himself into the water for joy and swims to shore. He is so blown away that he doesn't even think about running to meet Jesus on the water- nor his shame of denial. Joy in its purest form.
Exactly where the disciples are involved, involved. In creating together, in the process of roasting and sharing anticipation, in gutting the fish- in what they did a thousand times before with Jesus.
In the simplicity of the morning, the smell of the campfire, the fellowship and peace: in the slowness and the time spent together.
No five-star menu in the world could have guaranteed them that. It is a ritual of togetherness- a moment of coming home. A moment of familiarity and shared memory.
Jesus truly sets the table richly for his friends. And all he needs is a campfire, bread and fish.
We seek closeness to Jesus in ever more complicated concepts.
For us Christians, discipleship itself is becoming more and more abstract, more and more complicated.
The Internet is both a curse and a blessing in this regard, the pace set by social media, the sensory overload immense. Those who try to maintain security in their faith by "cross-checking" on the Internet, in groups, in forums, will be left hopelessly overstimulated and confused:
"Higher, faster, further! Louder, more pompous, more grandiose! More powerful, more domineering-and if you can't keep up, you'll miss out on the blessings of your life! Buy the book! Do the study! Analyze yourself! Listen to the podcast! Pray for everyone! Donate! Get involved! Sanctify yourself, pray in this way, work on your hurts, evangelize at the same time, don't forget praise, face your fallenness - but don't forget that you are chosen, loved and co-heir! Seize authority, rule over your life! Give the Holy Spirit space in your life, watch your words, and don't miss the conference in June with speakers from all over the world! Book the online ticket-now!"
Bible passages, prayer requests, memes with supposedly true Bible statements rattle across the screen every second. One can no longer really distinguish the true from the false - because there is no time for that.
"Quick! One minute in between out of the hamster wheel, into the other, but no more than 10 minutes, we don't have time!"
Like the white rabbit we rush through life- and then wonder that the Holy Spirit obviously does not speak. That we do not find clarity in the ways and false doctrines spread as fast as conspiracy theories.
The real problem is:
Being a Christian does not work like that, because being a Christian works very, very badly when we are stressed and overwhelmed.
What we all forget is the time Jesus had with his disciples. The simplicity. The paths they walked.
Jesus didn't use a one minute break app to refocus on his Father, but spent the entire night alone in his Father's presence.
He didn't use any elaborate magic tricks to prove his authority, but led the blind man away from the crowd to the village to heal him.
He went to the places where no one wanted to be ( Pool of Bethesda), conversed with the people with whom no one wanted to be seen ( Woman at the Well of Samaria), elevated women and children, confronted the proud and respected, and lived a life of absolute simplicity. Thus he was free- free from caring about possessions and subordinates, free from time pressure and schedule. Able to be interrupted at any time.
Community- and this is still the case today- we do not experience it at mass events. There we experience group dynamics, influence, emotional mass hysteria.
Whether it is a worship night or a soccer stadium, whether it is a concert of Iron Maiden in Wacken or Jenn Johnson live - the feeling of togetherness will be the same - depending on which group you belong to.
But real community needs time and interest. It needs to be involved with each other. It needs shared rituals and it needs the feeling of creating something together. It needs shared memories and conversations. It needs - silence and time.
Yes, we can have a great evening together in a five star hotel-with the solo entertainer blasting Pink Floyd in the background and the cocktail hat shining in the evening sun-but the real, the genuine memories-they are made over a shared bottle of wine for two by the lake-with long conversations and the feeling that the other is really present.
And so it is with prayer and with Jesus:
The Holy Spirit cannot be put into pizza boxes, cannot be filled into to-go cups, the Bible cannot be understood by memorizing passages and babbling away. No.
It takes time, the will to engage with Jesus, and more than 10 minutes a day to walk with Him.
To do this- we must learn that less is more.
And find Jesus in all the little details of the day- in the heart-shaped stone. In the squirrel that makes us smile. In the impulse to stop when the neighbor wants to tell us something, in the will to answer the email that carries a deep longing.
For me, this superficiality, this unwillingness to let ourselves be really penetrated by the simplicity of Jesus, is the worst illness of Christianity. Because if we do not slow down the pace, we cannot follow the Shepherd.
You know, he is eternal.
Jesus has time.
How much time do we allow him?
Light a campfire again.
Use the study Bible again instead of the Bible App.
And if you have questions, ask them to the Holy Spirit instead of the swarm.
But you may need a night at the lake, alone with Him, to hear the answer.
This week is about simplicity and turning back to the essentials.
So that the war in your brain shuts down.
Thought impulses, meant to be taken into real life, you will find (*grin*) of course on my social media page https://www.facebook.com/Sibyllezion and in the associated groups.
I've decided to reduce them to three per week. They are published Wednesday, Friday and Sunday.
Reading and thinking about them usually takes a bit longer than a minute.
Applying and trying them out hopefully even more.