Reflections on the Readings for Sunday 14 April 2013
Acts 5:2-32, 40b-4; Psalm 30:2, 4-6, 11-13; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19
The Acts account of the life of the early church crackles with energy. Living in the light of Easter, Jesus’ followers are convinced that the world is different, even if the powers-that-be are trying to live out of their old paradigm. The religious leaders think that they can quash the challenge to the status quo by silencing the apostles, as they tried with Jesus himself. But Jesus’ followers simply have to bear witness to the reality they have experienced. Belief in the resurrection gives them courage and hope to live in the light of the Kingdom of God even in the midst of opposition.
If the same Jesus who preached and embodied the Kingdom of God is exalted to the right hand of God, then divine reality is fundamentally different from the one the religious powers are trying to construct and defend. The followers of Jesus don’t have to live according to the rules of their false world any longer. True, the leaders have power, even power to kill them, but they do not have the power to contain God or to bend the divine to their own image. Their power is at best penultimate, for “power and riches, wisdom and strength, honour and glory and blessing” belong to the Lamb.
When the disciples in John 21 try to go back to their old way of life, they spend a fruitless night fishing. When they follow Jesus’ instructions, they discover abundance. And it isn’t only their physical need that is met with food. In the poignant conversation of Jesus and Peter, we eavesdrop on how Peter is freed from the terrible burden of his three-fold betrayal as Jesus points Peter back to the way of love and service. It is also the way of persecution, because it is the way that dismantles strongholds by undermining their power.
What does the world look like for us in the light of Easter? Whose reality does the resurrection and exaltation of Jesus undermine and turn upside down? What could we be doing, or thinking, or seeing differently, as we live out our Easter faith? Maybe we should be casting our nets on the other side.