6th April 2021 Canvey Methodist Church Bible Studies

Canvey Methodist Church Bible Study- Tuesday 6th April.

Hello Friends

I hope that you are all well?  What a joy it was to meet once again in our own church building, and to do this on Easter Sunday as we offered exuberant worship to Almighty God, in celebration of the resurrection from death of His Son, and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. In this ground shaking and breaking event, the timeline of human destiny was changed in a moment; death was shown not to be the end, the torn temple curtain marked the end of the “sin created barrier” between heaven and earth, and the shed blood of Christ guaranteed all who availed themselves of its embracing sacrificial power, the forgiveness of their sin and peace with God from this life into the next. As Jesus rose to life and the gravestone was supernaturally rolled away, the Devil was defeated, divine goodness triumphed over evil, and the light of undeserved love was released into the world of both the past and into the future.

The cross of Christ stood, and indeed stands, in both measured time and in eternity as a fulcrum of both judgment and grace; “a line in the sand”, drawn to mark a sea change of salvation for a creation enslaved by its own poor free will choices. It’s significance is therefore far greater than any mortal mind can fully comprehend. It marks the point of intended and preplanned divine sacrifice; a rebalancing of the created order by Almighty God that was motivated by total, pure love for all that He had made.

In our Lent and Easter “Here and There” studies we ended on the theme of the tremendous Hope that is ours in Christ. 

Before we move on to consider the “Post Easter” life and times of the first disciples, below are the responses received from last week's study.

In the “ Conversation and reflection” section we were asked to ponder the following questions.

 

1 How hopeful do you feel at this moment for the future?

 

2 Reflect and talk about what the atmosphere may have been like among the women and the disciples in those days, between crucifixion and resurrection.

 

3 How might we, as a fellowship/church continue to support those struggling while being a signpost for hope? See ‘Follow-up’ activity below.

 

Responses: 

 

From Rev Peter:  Thanks once again for the Bible studies. I feel they have been very fruitful in all kinds of ways. For me, partly based on the studies and partly on my preparations for Easter Sunday, I have felt inspired to send this greeting to friends in various places, here and overseas:

 

Dear friends

I am feeling inspired this year to send an Easter greeting with the hope that with you and yours all continues well. I wonder how you are feeling as we approach Easter after all that has happened during this pandemic?

As I think about the story of the three women looking for Jesus’ tomb, as Mark 16 tells it, I feel the weight of their fear as they enter and find it empty and run off as fast as their legs can carry them.

It seems like the fear of so many of our neighbours who are refusing the vaccination that most of us think and hope will save us from the pandemic. Fear can exert such terrible power. In the end reality usually dissolves it. Hence on Easter Sunday we can now celebrate the joy of the Resurrection. Let us hope that fear of the vaccine will likewise soon dissolve. Let us continue to shine our light!  Bless you all,   Peter

 

From Val:  This last, but most important part of our Lent Bible study, I found it emotional, but maybe that's just how I'm feeling.  To think of Jesus on that cross for the sake of our sins seems overwhelming to me but when he rises again on the 3rd day, oh what great joy we will feel.

I am looking forward to celebrating Easter together this Sunday and to feel the happiness of worshipping together one again. I hope it won't be long before we are also allowed to meet as a fellowship - I look forward to sitting with you, listening to God's word and sharing a cup of tea or coffee, chatting and listening to each other about the things that are important to us.  Even though we may be sitting further apart and wearing masks in the beginning it will be wonderful to share our faith and time with each other.  I miss each one of you and wish you all good health and happiness and may God bless you and all your loved-ones. Love, Valerie.

 

From Me:

 

I was impressed this year by Easter Saturday; this strange empty space between the solemnity and anguish of Good Friday and the intense Joy of Easter Sunday. It almost seems sacrilegious to undertake normal daily tasks and activities on such a day, sandwiched as it is, between two Holy and significant Christian Festival Days. Perhaps others have felt like this also. In fact, in some church traditions, Easter Saturday or Holy Saturday, is marked by holding an Easter Vigil that ends the Lenten season. This  observance commemorates what these traditions consider the final day of Christ’s death, which is traditionally associated with his triumphant descent into hades. For me, as I approached this Easter Saturday just gone, I thought about the disciples. They had just experienced the trauma of Good Friday and the death of their Lord on the cross, but, unlike us, they had no expectation of his resurrection to come the next day. They must have been filled with remorse, as well as with fear of the authorities as mentioned in scripture.  I was heartened that, on Sunday at church, Paul Saunders, our preacher spoke of just this aspect of Easter, of the disciples and of their feelings. He spoke of them wrestling with feelings, perhaps agonising that they could have done more to save Jesus. 

Easter Saturday reminds me that, no matter how bleak the circumstances may appear to be on one day, that the next day that follows can bring new light to the situation in a way that changes everything, lifts the mood, and transforms life.

Thus, with the living Jesus there is always hope!!

Colin

 

Today's Bible Study -  Did we dream it? Can it be true?

Answer: Invitation to A Barbecue on the Beach

 

Bible Reading:  John 21:1-25-    

Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

 

21 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.[a] It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus[b]), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

 

4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

 

5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

 

“No,” they answered.

 

6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

 

7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.[c] 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

 

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

 

Jesus Reinstates Peter

 

15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?”

 

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

 

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

 

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of Jonah, do you love me?”

 

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

 

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

 

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of Jonah, do you love me?”

 

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

 

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

 

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

 

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

 

24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

 

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

 

Footnotes

 

a.John 21:1 Greek Tiberias

b.John 21:2 Thomas (Aramaic) and Didymus (Greek) both mean twin.

c. John 21:8 Or about 90 meters

 

Comment:


 

The Day After Tomorrow is a 2004 American climate science fiction disaster film, in which humanity is faced with the dawn of a new ice age. Much drama ensues and heroic rescues are achieved as the characters battle against the odds to reach those they love. The film ends with humanity moving south to live into tomorrow and to rebuild in the warmer areas of the planet.

What were the tomorrows going to be for the friends of Jesus after the tumultuous events of the first Easter Weekend. They had seen their Lord and friend, Jesus cruelly arrested, tried, crucified and buried; they had experienced stomach churching fear of arrest by the same authorities and so they had gone into hiding; they had then heard perplexing reports from their women folk that Jesus was no longer in the tomb but had risen from death, and then, joy of incredible joys, they had seen Jesus themselves, inexplicably with them in a locked room, and inviting physical inspection of his living physical presence with them. And night fell, then morning came, and tomorrow dawned into a new day. What then! 

It seems they went to Galilee. But why go there we may ask?

The answer……..they were wisely heeding the angel at the tomb of Jesus' resurrection who said to the women, 

'Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.' So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word" (Matthew 28:5-8).

 

Jesus said he would see them in Galilee, and so that is where they went. Once there though, it seems that they had time on their hands whilst they waited for Jesus. Perhaps they were still finding the events of the last 72 hours hard to process. This was, after all, quite a different kind of “tomorrow” than the one that they might have been expecting after the death of a dear friend! In any event, This group of Jesus friends fell back on what they knew best… fishing!

The apostle John, when looking back on these events in the 21st Chapter of his gospel, described what happened as follows:

 

“After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself:

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” 

 

What, though, is this mention of “the sea of Tiberias''?  Were they not in Galilee! 

The Answer……..Yes they were indeed in Galilee. At that time, the "Sea of Tiberias" was another name for the Sea of Galilee, which, incidentally, was also called the Lake of Gennesaret. Tiberias was the city that King Herod had built on the western shore of this lake and named after Caesar Tiberias to impress him.

 

Thus it was that seven men, (Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee (also called Bartholomew), the two sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples of Jesus), found themselves in a boat, on the Sea of Galilee spending a fruitless night together fishing. 

And then, through the early morning mist, a figure on the shore, who they did not recognise, attracted their attention. Having established that they had caught no fish, this mysterious stranger suggested that they throw their nets over the right hand side of the boat in order to remedy their situation. Either this man sounded like he knew what he was talking about, or perhaps it was because the disciples were so dispirited by a sleepless night of fruitless work, that they felt that they had nothing to lose and so they heaved the net over the starboard or right hand side of the vessel. 

Immediately, their nets bulged with so many fish that they could not land them back into the boat but instead started to tow them back towards the shore. 

It was at this point that the apostle John, described as the disciple that Jesus loved, concluded that such a series of events could only have been orchestrated by the Lord Jesus Christ himself. “It is the Lord”, declared John, and then his friend Peter, upon hearing this, wrapped his cloak around him and jumped into the water to wade to the shoreline where Jesus stood.

All this frenetic activity occurred whilst not one of these seven friends of Jesus had realised or recognised that it was actually Jesus standing there on the shore advising them about where to fish. I wonder if there is a lesson for us here? How often is it that our work or even our life itself seems to be fruitless; when maybe even our best efforts do not seem to be good enough? Perhaps we too, do not see or hear Jesus in the stranger or in the friends around us. His promise though, is that he is always with us and that he will never leave or forsake us. (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). When we meet together in our two’s and three’s and more, Jesus is there amongst us, whether this is by phone, on Zoom, standing chatting on the street, having coffee in a cafe or sharing fellowship in church.(Matthew 18:20). Jesus can, and does, speak to us through each other. And he turns up in the most unusual places. In Galilee, it was on the beach, with a fire lit and burning, fish gently cooking upon its heat, bread rolls awaiting, everything all ready for a shared breakfast.

We read that Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.” And Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish. The catch numbered one hundred and fifty-three. With the seven disciples, with Jesus, that works out to more than 19 fish per person!! When God blesses, he does so abundantly. 

Of course, it is unlikely that Jesus and His disciples ate all of the fish themselves. Most likely is that most of the 153 fish caught were distributed to the people in the area, many of whom would undoubtedly also heard the Gospel from these fishers of men.

Incidentally, someone must have counted these fish for it to then be recorded that there were 153 fish! When people respond to the message of Christ’s, “fishers of men” they are not an anonymous shoal or a “catch” but they are precious individual souls, loved and valued by God.

Love is mentioned quite a lot following this barbecue on the beach. 

In  ppJOHN 21:15-17 we read:  So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. 

But why, I wonder did Jesus repeat the same question to Peter three times?

The answer, because Peter had denied Jesus three times in the Temple courtyard.

In English, these questions about love seem to be repetition, but in fact they are not. It’s all about the different words for “Love” that exist in the original Greek language used to write the gospels.

For although the second and third questions read the same in English, they are actually quite different in the original Greek. While English has only one word for “love,” there are quite a few in Greek. There is eros for erotic love (none of the Greek words in the New Testament translated, "love," in English is eros), philos for friendship, storge for affection from familiarity among family members or others brought together not by their choice, philostorgos, which combines philos and storge, and philadelphia for brotherly love. And then there’s agape, the sacrificial, unconditional love. 

In the passage above, Jesus uses the verb form of agape in the first two of His three questions and the verb form of philos in the third, while Peter responds with the verb form of philos all three times.

 

Thus, this passage actually reads: 

 

“Do you love (sacrificial love) Me more than these (other disciples)?” (John 21:15)

“Do you love Me?” (Sacrificial Love), (John 21:16)

“Do you love Me?”( Friendship love), (John 21:17)

 

So what is really happening here?

Jesus initially asks Peter if he loves Him sacrificially "more than these" (John 21:15). Instead of addressing the comparison, Peter answers by claiming his love for Jesus as a friend; after betraying Jesus, there was no way he could claim anything more than that. Jesus then drops the comparison with “these” and asks Peter if he loves Him sacrificially. Peter sticks to his claim of friendly love. With His third question, Jesus drops the level of love down to Peter’s, and there’s a match. Jesus will start working on us with whatever level of love we have for Him, but He does demand humility, which is what Peter displayed in John 21:15-17, in contrast to his prideful declaration in Matthew 26:31-33.

 

The passage finishes with a conversation about Peter's future task of “feeding sheep” and, along with the beloved disciple John, living life and being faithful to their calling, even unto death.

 

Questions to Ponder: 

Are there times when you have recognised that God has spoken to you through others?

Post Easter, how do we respond to the call of Jesus to love sacrificially and with friendship?

Who are the “these” in our lives and can we love them too much?


 

There may be other questions and responses that have occurred to you in following this Post Easter study this week.

Please do share your thoughts and I will share them next week.

 

In Christian Love

 

Colin