John 21, 4-8
Something to read
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, 'Children, you have no fish, have you?' They answered him, 'No.' He said to them, 'Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.' So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!' When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
It is a frequent occurrence in the Gospels that when the crucified and risen Christ appears to his disciples, they do not at first recognise him. Now, considering their devotion and the devastating occurrences of witnessing their Master's agony and death, it is difficult to understand how this is possible.
Yet, we must recall that the Lord's chosen apostles were not quick to believe in the resurrection. Interestingly, Jesus appears to the women disciples first, but the men do not believe them.
Rather, they recognise Jesus in the sign of abundance – the massive haul of fish. Then, their eyes are opened and they see it is the Messiah.
Something to do
There is no faith without doubt. We need only recall the story of the 'doubting apostle' Thomas, who demanded proof of his Lord's resurrection.
When you doubt, whether it be doubting the existence of God, the possibility of an afterlife, or that life itself is truly meaningful, remember that even the disciples - who knew Jesus, touched him, spoke to him – doubted and even despaired.
Be open with God about your doubts. Ask boldly for illumination – if you are going to doubt, be as bold as Thomas and ask for proof. But be prepared, like Thomas, to confess Jesus as 'my lord and my God' when you encounter divine grace.
Something to pray
Loving God, we live in an age of doubts and materialism. Many no longer believe in you or in anything that can be called divine. When we wonder if you are truly present, be with us in our questions and in our unbelief. Help us always to hold to the Larger Hope; through the love of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today's contributor is the Rev James Matarazzo Jr, a United Church of Christ (USA) minister from Boston, Massachusetts. He moved to London in 2007. Jim is a founding member of INERELA+ (International Network of Religious Leaders Living with and Affected by HIV and AIDS), a Christian Aid partner. He is now working on a DPhil in Systematic Theology at Oxford University.