A Different Kind of Communion

John 21:1-14

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 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 as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on 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 of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Spanish Bluebell-II | London, England | April 2023

My high school best friend first opened my eyes to the importance and blessings of the Lord’s Supper. We talked about it one night as we sat in his car outside the Lutheran Campus Center. He asked me what I thought about the bread and wine in Holy Communion. I told him that they symbolized Jesus’ body and blood. He kindly and firmly corrected me. “Jesus didn’t say, ‘This symbolizes my body,’ he said, ‘this is my body.'” I hadn’t really thought about it much before and I was willing to take Jesus at his word. I simply believed that what Jesus said was true. When we receive the bread and wine of the Sacrament of the Altar, we receive the body and blood in, with, and under that bread and wine. It’s a mystery. Don’t try to explain it. Just believe it. Jesus wants us to have him in our being. He wants to be present with us in very real ways. What a blessing this is for us today.

When Jesus called his disciples to bring him some fish, and then gave that which they brought to him back to them, it was a different but very real communion. Not the body and blood of Jesus. He was already there. But a communion of a different sort.

The word communion means to hold in common, to be united with. Com: With. Union: One. When we commune we hold Jesus body and blood in common with one another. We remember his death. We celebrate his love. We repent and kneel, and hold in common God’s love, grace, forgiveness, and presence.

If I put myself in the company of those disciple on the beach that day, I sense a celebration of mutual love, grace, hope, joy, and true gladness. Jesus is alive. He wants his followers to be very certain that it is indeed he, that he is not a ghost, and that his presence is a very good thing. This is the very best kind of communion. Jesus is immediately present. He doesn’t have to come to them through other means.

As they enjoy this time of fellowship and food, it is also a foretaste of an eternal feast that will never end. This day will have come and gone. The meal will be remembered and even reported to us centuries later through John’s witness. This third time Jesus appears is the last John will record. But one day he will appear for all to see. And he will take us to be with him in his heavenly banquet hall. And we will feast and commune like never before. And we will be deeply satisfied.

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