Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church

Breaking the Fast

John 21:1-19

Did you enjoy your breakfast this morning? For those of you who missed Sunday School... we had breakfast with Jesus. No... we didn't have fish... but we are having crawfish later today... right after worship. I hope that we haven't spoiled your appetites! Actually... I expect ya'll could eat crawfish anytime!

Eating seems to be one of our favorite pass times, doesn't it? We always seem to have a bigger crowd on potluck days... especially for the crawfish boil! Did you know that we had more people signed up for the crawfish boil than we had in church last Sunday? That might give you an idea of the importance we place on eating!

Well... eating in an important part of life... if we didn't eat we wouldn't live. It played an important part in Jesus ministry as well. It's mentioned in one form or another 169 times in the New Testament... 124 of those are in the gospels and Acts.

In Matthew 11 we read:

18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.'
19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."

It seems that Jesus would eat with just about anyone. In Mark 2 we read:

16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the "sinners" and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: "Why does he eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

Jesus set many examples for us... about what behavior is appropriate in God's sight. And... like Jesus... we are to sit down with saint and sinner alike... it is the ultimate gesture of acceptance.

A few verses later in Mark we have the story of the disciples picking grain on the sabbath.

23 One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain.
24 The Pharisees said to him, "Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?"
25 He answered, "Have you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in need?
26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest, he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions."
27 Then he said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.
28 So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath."

Even on the Lord's day... it is lawful to eat and to do what is necessary to prepare our food.

We also know that Jesus was concerned about hungry people. In Matthew 15 we read:

32 Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way."
And he fed that great crowd from seven loaves and a few small fish... and there were seven baskets of broken pieces left over!

In our story today... Jesus invites his disciples to "break the fast" with him after a long night of unsuccessful fishing. But first he tells them to lower their nets on the other side of the boat... and when they obey him the catch is so great that the nets are strained.

Fishing was a metaphor for what Jesus wanted his disciples to do for him after he was gone. Remember the story in Mark 1 when Jesus began calling his disciples:

16 As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.
17 "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

And all of us know that fishermen sometimes catch fish... and sometimes they don't. We know that the disciples would find that to be true as well. In our story today they had worked long and hard trying to catch fish but they failed... until Jesus told them to try the other side of the boat.

I'm reminded of a parable Jesus told which we find in Matthew 22:

2 "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son.
3 He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
4 "Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'
5 "But they paid no attention and went off--
8 "Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come.
9 Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.'
10 So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.

We might ask ourselves today... which side of the boat does Jesus want us to fish from... and are we obeying his voice?

But there is more to this story... Jesus invites his disciples to a leisurely breakfast which he himself cooks for them. "Come and have breakfast." An invitation to end the long period of fasting. It conjures up for me a mental picture of the centuries the Hebrew people had waited for their Messiah... and here he is at last... inviting them to the banquet. But will they come? Well, we know what happened, don't we? Eventually Paul... on the road to Damascus... was confronted by Jesus... and told to go to the other side of the boat. By God's grace he took the message to the gentiles... and we know the rest of the story... because here we are today... almost two thousand years later... being invited by Jesus to eat with him... to break the fast of our desolate lives... and partake of his blood and his body at the Lord's Supper to which all are invited. Hear the voice of Jesus saying... "Come and break fast with me." Amen.

A Sermon Preached on May 2, 1999
The Rev. Shirley R. Frazier
Carolyn Park Presbyterian Church, Arabi, LA

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