As we reach the end of our Easter journey, we might ask: what do we do now? How should we live on the other side of Jesus’ death and resurrection? Here is how one disciple answered that question in John 21:3: “‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them.” It’s surprising, in light of Peter’s experience of meeting the risen Jesus, that we don’t find him in Jerusalem, preaching the gospel or confronting the Pharisees. Instead, we find him back in Galilee, back on his fishing boat, pulling in the nets. Peter has returned home and returned to what he knows—fishing. Jesus hasn’t even ascended to heaven yet, but Peter has already gone back to his old job.
This story shows us something of how the Easter events work themselves out in our lives. As the story progresses, the resurrected Jesus meets Peter in the midst of his trawling expedition, fills his nets with fish, and invites him to breakfast. Then, through his lakeside conversation with Jesus, Peter experiences renewal, restoration, reinstatement. This is resurrection life. It is not about us doing extraordinary things for Jesus. It is about Jesus, the crucified and risen one, encountering us in the ordinariness of every day.
Jesus meets Peter in his workplace and invites him to “bring some of the fish you have just caught” to the barbeque. That invitation is ours. Jesus meets us in our places of work, rest, study, recreation and family, and invites us to bring all that we have and do to him, that he might infuse it with his resurrected presence. Jesus extends grace to Peter by replacing his threefold betrayal with a threefold invitation to love. That grace is ours. All of our shame, blame and denial have been consumed by the cross and we now live in the spacious freedom of God’s forgiveness. Then Jesus reinstates Peter by calling him again to “follow me” (reminiscent of his first calling by the same lake). That calling to follow the risen Jesus is still ours today.
So what do we do now? We go back to our normal lives—the messy, the mundane, the seemingly mediocre. And we discover, if we are open to it, that the Risen One is waiting for us there.
Ps Reuben Munn, Professional Teaching Fellow, School of Theology