Pastor Chuck DeVane
Special to The Sentinel-Record
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.
-- John 21:12-13
I am one Baptist who admires the liturgical calendar of the historic and mainline churches. I love Advent, celebrate Holy Week, and revel in the concept of "Ordinary Time." The last chapter in the Gospel of John reveals Jesus with His disciples in "Ordinary Time," when they were working, wandering, wondering, waiting. There is no special service. There is no outstanding miracle. But the Lord is there, ever-present, ever watchful, always giving, always guiding. Jesus Christ, our extraordinary God and Savior, seems to really enjoy the ordinary.
Jesus loves ordinary people
Jesus had completed there years of extraordinary ministry with the people in this story. Jesus has recently died in an extraordinarily shocking and substitutionary way. Jesus has then appeared to them alive afterwords, having extraordinarily risen from the dead. An extraordinary ascension into Heaven awaits. The extraordinary events of Pentecost are on the horizon. So much extraordinary!
But this is an ordinary day, with ordinary men, doing ordinary things, in ordinary time. The men with Jesus were Galileans, not Judeans. They were fishermen, not businessmen. They were ordinary. And Jesus just loved them. With the propagation of the gospel and the salvation of souls at stake, Jesus wanted to spend time with and have His mission carried out by these extremely ordinary people.
He still does. Occasionally some highfalutin person will repent and believe the gospel and lend a famous name to a church roll. But the vast majority of Christians through the ages have come to Christ from ordinary families, ordinary vocations, ordinary ways and means.
Jesus loves ordinary things
Jesus loves His ordinary people and He loves to watch over us while we do ordinary things. That's what He is doing here, even though the disciples don't recognize Him at first. Jesus laughed at their momentary ineptitude. How can seven men fish all night and catch nothing? He loved them for their effort, though, for God honors work. So, the Lord decides to help them in their work by giving them a fishing tip that results in a great catch.
People mistakenly think that God is most interested in the work being done by famous evangelists and pastors of large churches. The greatest influence on my Christian and pastoral life was a man in my hometown who co-owned a fish market with his brother. As the late Tom T. Hall wrote, "God's got a lot of poor people out doing His work."
All work done by Christians is God's work, and God is with us in it. He is pleased when we do it with honesty and integrity, with service to others, with a view towards glorifying Him. Our vocation, all Christians, is to glorify God and spread the gospel, in our own, ordinary lives.
Jesus loves ordinary time
Often we don't recognize Jesus in our day-to-day lives, like these first disciples. Upon closer proximity and examination, however, "They knew it was the Lord." His appearance was different, glorified, but the voice was the same. Perhaps they saw the scars when He reached out and handed them the bread. His nail-scarred hands reach out to us today.
You would think the King of the universe, recently crucified and resurrected, would have better things to do than sit idle on the shore, then make breakfast for such ordinary fellows. But Jesus was exactly where Jesus wanted to be. You will find Him in such places every day, loving His ordinary people, watching over our ordinary things, sharing with us ordinary time.
So, my fellow Christians, if for any reason you feel unimportant, that you do not matter to most people, remember that you matter to the most important person of all. If you feel your workaday existence is not significant, it is, to the most significant person in the world. If you feel alone or worthless, you are not, you are never alone and you are of infinite worth to God. Jesus loves you, and the Lord is with you, even in, and especially in, ordinary time.
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]