This week we’re studying John 21:1-14, the first part of the last story in the gospel of John. It’s the story where Jesus meets some of the disciples on the beach by the Sea of Galilee and eats breakfast with them.
It’s also a story about the first disciples, the apostles, so we might ask ourselves: how does that affect this story’s meaning for us? That’s less straightforward of a question than we might think, before we get into it.
Some notes on the text are here. And here are a few more questions we might want to think about, or discuss in class:
What would we say “happens” in this story? (It could be interesting to try out different sentences that describe “what happens,” like “These disciples meet Jesus in the course of their usual life” or “The disciples meet Jesus and something changes” or “The disciples follow Jesus’ instructions, and they are more successful than they were before” or … In other words, to try that direct exercise in “interpretation.”)
Do any of those “happenings” feel particularly instructive for us, in our typical situations? Which one(s)? Why?
There are a lot of details in this story. Which ones seem meaningful to us? What do they mean to us?
(For instance: Why are they fishing? Does that mean something, other than that they’ve taken up their usual occupation? And supposing it does simply mean that they’ve taken up their usual occupation, is there anything like an instruction or an implication in that, like, should they not have done that, or should they have done that, or …?)
This might be one of those stories that make us ask ourselves “would we want to have been there?” On that beach, with those individuals, in that real-life situation? Or, by extension, would we have wanted to know Jesus that way – that ordinary, historical, person-to-person way, the way we know the other people in our lives these days? But then, by extension, what does it mean to us to meet Jesus today? Or to know Jesus today? We use that language a lot. What do we mean by it? Can we say?
Image: “Der Plausch am Weg” [the chat on the way], Oswald Achenbach, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons