April 8, 2018

Adult Bible Study Online

A current connection to each week's session

The Risen Lord Appears
John 21:1-14

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It happens more than we want to admit. A church plant, a new mission, or a new ministry effort is launched with great potential and response, only to be undone by a lack of resources or a loss of leadership. Even if the leader survives, things will not be the same. Things didn’t work out the way we hoped and prayed for. Good things happened, but the risks outweighed the sacrifices. Now what?

When things change and the future seems unclear, we gravitate to comfort food, comfort work, comfort places, or comfort people. These sources of comfort are not always easy or without complications, but nonetheless seem old and familiar. In these situations, the prospect of discomfort may be off-putting, even if we recognize it as part of a recommissioning.

Today’s story gets its special quality from the light of the resurrection. We have familiar subject matter (disciples fishing, Jesus offering bread and fish, a miraculous catch), but somehow, a different outcome. Jesus’ death cast a cloud over the whole movement. The disciples know that Jesus is alive, but now what? They return to Galilee, and following Peter’s lead, seven of them go fishing. Amid the familiar, they experience the unfamiliar: a miraculous draught of fishes, signaling the presence of the risen Lord.

Jesus starts with the comfortable and draws his disciples into a closer fellowship. He prepares a breakfast of bread and fish for them, and invites them to contribute some of their newly found resources (v. 10). His acceptance is an invitation for the disciples to reengage in God’s activity. The disciples will be witnesses to the risen Lord in a largely hostile environment. This is emphasized by the Lord’s three appearances to them (v. 14).

The common meal (v. 13), which was a kind of communion, may represent the need for a new coming together between Jesus and the disciples. Those who forsook their Lord needed to be brought into fellowship again by some tangible form of communal activity. This may also demonstrate a model of reconciliation for the church today.

  • In what ways may “the comfortable” become a limitation or barrier to our participation in Jesus’ mission?
  • What are some advantages and disadvantages of having a very recognizable chain of leadership in the church?
  • Why might we view the common meal as an important part of church fellowship today?

—Kevin McCabe, Kmccabe57@hotmail.com

© 2018

Kevin McCabe is a writer, teacher, and poet. He was formerly an instructor in Classics at several universities, and has also been the author and editor of two books on Lucy Maud Montgomery and a number of works on the history and literature of the Niagara Peninsula. Kevin is a member of Grace Mennonite Church in St. Catharines where he lives with his wife and two daughters.

This article supplements Adult Bible Study, a quarterly Bible curriculum for adults. Adult Bible Study provides in-depth, challenging Bible study from an Anabaptist-Mennonite perspective, written by an intercultural group of pastors, teachers, professors, and leaders across Canada and the United States. Sessions include daily Bible readings, resources for additional study, and free downloadable resources.

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