Resurrection celebration: A fish fry?

In this Easter season, we Christians spend a lot of time talking about resurrection, and for a very good reason. However, I sometimes hear the topic discussed in remarkably disembodied ways. We may speak, for example, of resurrection as a generic spiritual value, such as “discovering your own personal resurrection.”

Likewise, Jesus’ own resurrection is sometimes seen as nothing more than a powerful spiritual analogy of conquering your demons or overcoming trials and adversities. But the resurrection of Jesus is a historical event, foundational to the Christian faith. It’s an event memorialized by our Lord serving his favorite foods: fish and bread!

But 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. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 

–  John 21:12-14

When we look to the resurrection of Jesus, we must wholeheartedly embrace the mystery and wonder of the physical, bodily resurrection of the Son of God. Just as he humbled and emptied himself, becoming fully incarnate as a human being, so too did Jesus physically die. And even more glorious than that, he defeated death by rising again in triumphant glory.

If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.

– 1 Corinthians 15:13-14

The gospels record for us several scenes of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, including the remarkable story of Jesus serving breakfast on the beach to seven of his disciples. As I read this story, I’m overwhelmed by the humanity of the moment. This is not a seaside memory of Jesus or a time when the disciples gathered to recall his inspirational teachings. No, this is the resurrected Jesus who gets his hands dirty cooking breakfast for his friends. It’s Jesus toasting bread and grilling fish over an open fire. And above all, it’s the continuity of his life and ministry, where now as the resurrected Christ, he continues the purpose for which he came: giving himself freely for the life of the world.

As Jesus prepares this meal, he also extends an invitation. Will you come and eat with me? Come and see the table I have prepared for you. Come and sit with me and receive what I so deeply desire to give you. And as you receive my love and healing grace, will you come and follow where I lead.

– 1 Corinthians 15:19

Jesus has powerfully conquered sin and death through the cross and resurrection, yet he also asks us to follow him in this new way of life. Like the early disciples, we can meet him at a barbecue on the beach. We can come to his table to receive the nourishment he offers, deeply desiring to “know him and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). And as we encounter the risen Lord Jesus, we are transformed and renewed in our commitment and desire to follow him wherever he may lead.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

– 1 Peter 1:3

Father, open our hearts to receive afresh the bread of life that comes from knowing the risen Lord Jesus, and as we receive, may we follow him as his faithful disciples.

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