Sermon Easter 3
Grace, mercy and peace to you, from God our Creator and our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday mornings – they are rarely anybody’s favorite time of the week. Most of you have the weekends off and then you have to go back to school or work on Mondays. I remember the days when I did that.
It was hard for me to get out of bed sometimes – thinking about all that work waiting on my desk, all the messages that needed to be answered, all the phone calls that needed to be made, all the meetings that were scheduled, and all the reports to be written after all those meetings.
Yeah, I didn’t like Monday mornings at all. And, it did not help that the kids didn’t appreciate getting up on Mondays either.
The message on the back of your bulletin suggests that the gospel lesson for today took place on a Monday morning, a week or two after the resurrection. Peter and a half dozen of the other disciples decided it was time to go back to their regular work. Many of them fished for a living before they met Jesus.
Things are always different after you meet Jesus. Jesus doesn’t just change what you do for an hour on Sunday. Jesus changes how your Monday world goes, too.
Fishing was a nighttime job. Their first night back at work wasn’t very good. As a matter of fact, it was terrible. Have you ever had one of those days where you felt like you didn’t accomplish anything? The disciples had one of those. They didn’t catch any fish at all.
Then they saw someone on the shore already cooking his breakfast. The man on the shore told them to cast the net on the other side of the boat. On the face of it, that is a ridiculous suggestion. They had been fishing all night. They were experienced at catching fish. If there were any fish out there, they would have caught them. Fish don’t just look up and decide to only swim on the right side of a small boat.
But it was one of those ridiculous things that didn’t cost anything, so they figured they would try it. There were only two options. If there were no fish on the right side of the boat, they lost nothing, and they could tell the guy on the shore that he didn’t know what he was talking about. If it turned out that this carpenter really did know something about fishing, then there would be a good breakfast.
They pulled in one hundred fifty-three large fish, and the net wasn’t even torn. It was amazing. John told Peter that the man on shore was Jesus, so Peter jumped out of the boat and swam to shore.
Jesus was there for them on Monday morning, after a long unproductive night of hard work. Jesus even had breakfast on the fire. He didn’t need their fish. He had plenty. And if you remember any other stories about Jesus and bread and fish, you know he didn’t need their catch to feed all of them.
But he helped them catch the fish anyway. He wanted them to succeed at their daily work. And then, he had a new job for them. Jesus changed their Monday morning world. He gave them a different way of looking at their work.
Saul was going about his daily work, too. His daily work wasn’t like Peter’s. He didn’t fish for a living. He was a tent maker. As he traveled with his job, he rounded up Christians. He was one of those super duper religious guys who didn’t like people with different beliefs. He wanted to be sure that his religion stayed pure.
He believed that God had called him to get rid of as many Christians as possible. He believed that they polluted the Jewish faith with all their talk about a Messiah who rose from the dead. This Messiah talk, this talk that God became human, this was blasphemy. It was serious heresy. Saul was convinced it required the death penalty.
Saul was very zealous for his God. He wasn’t content with trying to murder the disciples in Jerusalem. He got letters from the temple to take with him authorizing him to round up Christians when he went to Damascus.
He was on that road, on the road to work, when Jesus met him. It was quite the meeting! A light came from heaven, blinded him like a flash of lightning, and knocked him to the ground. Then he heard the voice of Jesus.
Jesus gave Saul a new way of living. Now instead of rounding up Christians to kill, he was to be a leader of Christians. While he was on the road sewing tents for people, he was to preach the gospel to the gentiles.
Ananias had an encounter with Jesus, too. Ananias was already a believer when he heard the voice of Jesus that day. Jesus told him to go to Saul and place his hands on Saul and restore his sight.
Poor Ananias. Sometimes Jesus tells people to do things they don’t want to do. Sometimes Jesus tells people to go somewhere they don’t want to go. Sometimes Jesus tells people to do things that are difficult and frightening. This was one of those times.
Poor Ananias. Jesus tells him to go to the house where the most famous killer of Christians is staying and pray for him and heal him. Jesus tells him to go heal his worst enemy, not just his enemy, but the man who has been rounding up and killing every Christian he can get his hands on.
Ananias must have been a person of great faith. He obeyed the voice of Jesus and went and healed Saul. It takes enough faith to believe God is using us to serve in the world. It takes great faith to believe that God is calling our worst enemy to be an important servant of God in the world.
Peter, Saul, and Ananias – they were all in the midst of their daily work. Their day started out as an ordinary kind of day, like our Monday mornings. Then they talked to Jesus. He didn’t just change that Monday for them. He didn’t just change the work they did that day.
Jesus changed the way they did their work every day. He called them to new ways of living their whole lives.
Jesus forgave Peter for denying him three times. He even gave him the chance to say, “I love you” three times to make up for it. Then he gave Peter a new way to live. Peter would no longer fish for a living. Peter would be in charge of the community of believers. He would be the one who cared for the flock.
Jesus gave Saul a new way to live. Like Simon Peter, he received a new name. He was no longer Saul, but Paul. He no longer persecuted followers of Jesus. Instead, he became a missionary and preached the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who died and rose again to save the world.
Jesus gave Ananias a new way to live. He made him a healer and taught him that God can use our enemies as well as our friends to spread the gospel.
Jesus does not just change what we do for an hour on (Saturday evening) Sunday morning. He is not just present with us when we worship. He comes into our Monday Morning world and is with us all week as we go about our daily lives.
Jesus gives us a different way of living during the week. He helps us do our daily work well. He forgives our sins. He reminds us that he loves even our enemies. He feeds us our daily bread. He reminds us to share this good news with others.
Alleluia! Christ is risen. Christ is risen indeed. Alleluia.