After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
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.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go." (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, "Follow me."
From the moment Alexander wakes up, things just go wrong in his way. As he gets up, the chewing gum that was in his mouth last night somehow ends up in his hair. He trips on the skateboard and drops his sweater in the sink while the water is running. At breakfast, his brothers Nick and Anthony find prizes in their breakfast cereal boxes (just one indicator of how old the book is) but as for Alexander, his cereal box only contains…breakfast cereal. Alexander thinks going to Australia would be better than this Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. In the carpool on the way to school, he is the only one who does not get a window seat and at school his teacher says she likes Paul’s picture of a sailboat better than Alexander's picture of an invisible castle. At lunch, Phillip has two cupcakes for dessert, Albert has a Hershey bar with almonds, and Paul has a jelly roll with coconut sprinkles. But Alexander's mother forgot and so - there is no dessert in his lunch bag. That evening at home, they have lima beans for dinner (which Alexander hates), he watches kissing on TV (which he also hates), and at bed time Alexander is forced to wear his railroad train pajamas (which he also hates). Then his Mickey Mouse nightlight burns out, he accidently bites his own tongue, and the cat crawls into bed with his brother Anthony instead of him. In the end, Alexander says it has been a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day for him. His mother says to him that some days are like that, even in Australia.
Have you ever had that – a day where everything went wrong? I know I have had my share of terrible, horrible, no good very bad days. Like the day at age 12 when a weightlifting barbell that had been carelessly placed upright against a fence by a cousin of mine, fell over and hit me in the mouth – knocking out two of my front teeth. My adult front teeth. Yes, that was a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. Or when a company I worked for was bought out and suddenly many of us where left without jobs. That was a Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Or when we were on our way home from visiting friends and missed a stop sign and were hit by another car; the car was flipped on its top and slide quite a few more feet before coming to a stop, with us dangling upside down inside – and although thankfully not injured, it still felt like a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day. I can think of many days where I just wanted time to turn back and I could have a do-over. And, Yes, I have to agree with Alexander’s mom - some days are like that… Terrible, Horrible, No Good, and Very Bad - even in Australia
…or even by the Sea of Gallilee..
That is where Peter was having not only but but a couple of terrible, horrible, no good very bad days.
I honestly can’t imagine how Peter must have felt that day, there by the water. Not that long ago, Peter and the other disciples and Jesus were together and then Jesus was arrested and before the sun even came up that day, Peter denied Jesus, denied knowing Jesus and being with Jesus, three times.
Aren’t you one of his disciples? No, I am not.
Aren’t you one of his disciples? Not me.
Didn’t I see you in the garden with him? No, wasn’t me….
The memory is still so fresh. Oh how heavy Peter must have felt. How ashamed. How filled with guilt.
What now? They get back to the shore…and Jesus doesn’t yell at him or anything – instead Jesus prepares fish.
So..they sit by the beach and eat and after breakfast Jesus says “Simon, Son of John, – DO YOU LOVE ME?
Not only once but three times. DO YOU LOVE ME?
Peter denied him three times, three times he gets asked the question.
SIMON, SON OF JOHN, DO YOU LOVE ME
Jesus offers Peter a new start, a do-over, a way to let go off that terrible, horrible, no good very bad day and all those that followed.
Jesus takes Peter back into the sheepfold and even more so, he gives him a new assignment. Jesus does not only affirm him and call him to continue as a follower of the way, but he now wants him to be an instrument, a vehicle…
Simon son of John, do you love me? Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep. Care for the young and the old. Care for them and feed them and love them. It is about living and acting and being love. Be the love of Christ. No matter what happened – God is doing a new thing - you are loved, now live that love.
But Peter isn’t the only one. We also get the story of Saul, better known to us as Paul.
We are told he was ‘breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord”. Sometimes we want to do that too, don’t we? Sometimes it feels good to be really mad and to whisper under our breaths and to wish terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days on others because they have done something that we think of as despicable or vile. And Paul is breathing threats and murder when he is struck off his horse, confronted by Jesus, and unable to see. Ananias, we are told, takes him into Damascus – although hesitantly – and lays hands on him and baptizes him – because Jesus has chosen him to be an instrument to proclaim his message. In him, God is doing a new thing and Paul is changed from persecutor to proclaiming the Good News of God’s love.
God is doing a new thing. And in Christ, we each are offered a chance for a new day, a clean slate, a new way of being - something not terrible, horrible, no good very bad
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Do you love me?
Feed all people. Care for all people.
Love the unlovable. Take care of the lonely
Care, feed, and proclaim and be changed by living lives of love.
Sing songs, come to church, worship the Lord, live your life - but above all: Be love.
Be love and Follow me – Jesus says -
Whether we are fishing or herding his sheep - “Follow me”
As he prepares a feast for us and we offer of ourselves. “Follow me”
“Follow me” into such a close friendship, such a deep love, that all can be forgiven, and all can be made whole, and none have a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.
Follow Christ into a new thing. More committed than ever.
Do you love me – Jesus asks. Follow me - Jesus calls.
Will you follow?