The 21st chapter of St John from which we’ve just heard
today’s Gospel contains in microcosmic form most of the
elements of the previous narratives. We are back in
Galilee, with Peter and his friends going fishing. Jesus
reveals himself as he has done throughout. He feeds them
by the lake. He offers forgiveness, challenge and
Only now, instead of the drama moving forward inexorably
to Calvary and Easter, it moves out from there. The
fishing, the feeding, the forgiveness and the challenge
are all shot though with a sense of something
accomplished, now to be worked out, something achieved
that must now be implemented, something which Jesus has
done which must now sweep Peter and the rest along in the
tidal wave of new life, new possibilities.
The scene is full of a sense of freshness and wonder:
sunrise, lake and breakfast picnic hint at the
transformation of creation itself. The whole story is
pervaded with this sense of transformation. “None of the
disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew
it was the Lord.” Jesus is the same, yet somehow
different. He is described as a man among men, yet he has
somehow been changed.
The resurrection is a thoroughly Jewish belief, yet
nothing in Judaism had prepared the disciples for this.
The transformation spreads through the scene. Fishing,
after a night of hard and fruitless work, becomes a sudden
morning surprise. The consideration Peter needed, but no
doubt dreaded, transformed his denials into stumbling
affirmations of love and loyalty, with Jesus’ questions
themselves being tuned into commissions: feed my lambs,
tend my sheep, feed my sheep.
Finally, the transformation of vocation itself, no longer
is Peter to be Jesus’ blustering right-hand man, ready (so
he thought) to die for Jesus out of a sense of pride and
self-importance; rather, because Jesus has laid down his
life for Peter, Peter will in turn glorify God by his own
What more natural, what more utterly challenging, than the
simple command, “Follow me?”. Everything is different in
the light of Easter, even God. “To him who sits on the
throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honour and glory
Jewish monotheistic worship has been transformed from
within, so that the one God is now known in Jesus of the
Lamb and his victory.
In today’s New Testament reading from the Book of Acts we
are given the insight into seeing that question that has
faced the world since Easter, is the question that
confronted Paul on the road to Damascus: granted that a
new, transforming reality is let loose in the world, are
we prepared to join in the song? And what song is that?
The song is that given us by the fourth century Bishop
Augustine, that we, Christ’s followers, are an Easter
people and that Alleluia is our song.
In a few minutes time young George will come to the font,
and in his being anointed with oil and receiving the water
of Baptism, he will, although unconsciously, have taken
the first and important step of Christian discipleship. He
will, through the symbolism of oil and water and the
affirmations and declarations of his parents and God
parents, have become like us, one of God’s Easter people
singing as we do in these Great Forty Days of Eastertide
“Alleluia”. For Christ has indeed risen, has broken the
powers of death and hell and now invites us his followers
to share, taste and enjoy the triumphant victory of his
new risen life.
Alleluia Christ is risen; he is risen indeed, Alleluia.