Faith after Easter: How to meet Jesus in the everyday

Sunrise over Galilee.

The disciples of Jesus are always portrayed as touchingly human. They share the same bewilderment, frustration and irritation we can imagine for ourselves in their situations. At the same time they are, for the most part, loving and loyal. We hope we would have been too.

One of the touches that show how far they were from plaster saints is in John's Gospel. Jesus has appeared to Mary and to the disciples, including Thomas. But what are they actually to do with this wonderful revelation? He has not ascended; there is no Holy Spirit for them as yet. They know Jesus is not dead, but at the same time he's not really available to them. He comes and goes, and he hasn't told them what he wants them to do.

So Peter says, "I'm going fishing" (21:3). The others join him.

Today, 2,000 later, we're in a different situation. We have the Great Commission and we have the Holy Spirit. But it's striking how often we feel ourselves to be in the disciples' position. We aren't really sure what to do. Jesus is not reliably present; he comes and goes from our lives, or we from his. We are at a spiritual loose end.

So it's possible to see the decision by Peter and the disciples in either a positive or a negative light. The negative light is this: unable to make a decision about how to live out their discipleship, they default to what they know. They don't pray and seek the Lord's will because they don't know how. They're fishermen so they fish. They don't lose their faith, they just park it.

The postitive light is this. They don't know the way ahead. They are vague about a lot of things. But they know Jesus is alive, and they trust him for the future. So they do what they've always done, knowing he's not far from them and will come to them and bless them in their daily life and work.

It's not long before he does. John tells of him standing on the shore asking after their catch, and of an unforgettable breakfast on the beach.

The point is this. Easter is Easter whether we feel it or not. Sometimes we won't; the high point of Easter Sunday is all too soon left behind. We may not doubt the Resurrection, but we don't quite understand what it means. It's then we have to carry on, doing what we do, patiently waiting, faithfully working.

Waiting for an encounter with the Risen Lord, who stands on the beach asking what we've caught.