Last week we heard a bit from Rational Thomas—the guy who didn’t really buy the whole resurrection from the dead thing. This week, we will hear the story about Peter, who while stripped naked for fishing, puts on his clothes and jumps into the sea to swim to the Lord. He was not too crazy—according to the story, even fully clothed he beat the boat back to shore.
These John stories are strange. I’ve learned a couple things about the Gospel of John over the past couple of years: first, it’s a funny book. You should giggle sometimes when you read it. Second, John isn’t always talking about the thing he’s talking about—sometimes, when he’s talking about loaves and fish, he’s really talking about the presence of the risen Christ in the meal his followers share. It’s not the sign, but the presence of God John wants us to contemplate.
John, therefore, is a complicating and frustrating book. Instead of showing Jesus performing miracles, John chooses to tell the story of seven signs—none of which convince anybody of anything. It’s as if, seven times over, John says, “God can show you as much as you want—but you can’t see it unless you believe.” It reminds me of a mundane part of our life here at OSA—we have signs everywhere asking people to keep doors closed or to leave the rocks in place in the garden. But you have to be looking for a sign to notice one, and you have to read it correctly if you do notice one for it to be of any use at all. John is a Gospel of people receiving signs and not believing, of reading the signs and disagreeing with what they signify. And under that tension, John is also telling us, over and over again, to look past the signs to where they’re trying to guide us—to Christ, alive and with us. Could this be true?
Every week I am continually struck by our age of mirrors. Where is truth to be found? Can it be found in an age which does not even believe in such a thing?
I think—I hope—that we find truth together here at OSA. I believe—I hope—that just as Jesus was present in the shore and the breakfast by the sea, he is also present in our Sunday meal, in our simple bread and wine.