On the Beach


Devotional for Friday, May 15

There are stories in the Bible so powerful that I find it daunting to try to expand or elaborate on them in any way. To do so is like standing before a beautiful painting and breaking the holy silence in the gallery by saying, “Note how the lines merge at this point.”

In this Easter season, I want to share with you such a text. It is, by the way, my favorite part of the Bible, the story I turn to for comfort. For me, it captures everything being revealed about God from Genesis to Revelation in one simple story.

As a reader, do me a favor. I know we often read blogs as part of our hurried lives, our eyes racing over the words while our emails and texts beep for attention. Don’t do that today.

Please, either slow down or come back when you have more time, and carefully read John 21:1-19. Click on the word “John” in the previous sentence, and you’ll have the story before you. You also can click on this YouTube link and see a video depiction of the story. (You may get a commercial first.)

There are characters in pain in this story; remember, the disciples knew Jesus was alive, but they also knew they had hidden when Jesus needed them most. Facing the resurrected Jesus was a difficult and even frightening act for them, particularly for Peter, who had denied knowing Jesus three times.

And yes, I feel like I’m already over-explaining it.


Now that you’ve read or viewed the story, I want to share with you a few of the thoughts I have had about it over the years.

Even when faced with miraculous evidence of God’s presence, the best of us, when confronted with our sinful weaknesses, may want to turn back to what we used to be.

Because of the resurrection, we are a people of abundance. We simply have to see and accept that abundance.

The resurrected Jesus meets us where we are, with love, grace and forgiveness, even if the sin is abandonment and betrayal. I wonder, had Judas lived, how would Jesus have offered him forgiveness?

And of course, as we are restored by Jesus, there is a mission—perhaps a difficult one—but a mission that gives us purpose beyond our former lives.

Because of Jesus, we know we worship a God of love, a God who asks only that we return to him by accepting the free gift of forgiveness and salvation and then respond accordingly.

Lord, meet us where we are with your grace, and may we once again be astonished by the love you offer. Amen.

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