Nourished in Body and Soul

April 14, 2020  Tuesday

John 21:9-19  When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 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. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, 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 a second time, “Simon, son of John, 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 John, 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 everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Christianity has been plagued by a certain “Platonism” since its beginning.  By Platonism, I am referring to a devaluation of the body in relationship to the spirit/soul.  The ancient Greek philosopher Plato taught this.  To him, the soul was good but had become trapped in the evil body.  For Plato, death released the soul from the evil cage of the body.  This type of thinking has seeped into Christianity since its beginning, mainly because of the influence that Classical Greek and Roman culture had on the earliest church.

This isn’t the picture we have in the Bible, which is what our passage today shows us.  Jesus was resurrected in the same body he had in life.  In John 20, Thomas was confronted with his raised Rabbi and knew him by the wounds on his hands and side.  In his body, now resurrected, Jesus greets his disciples on the beach one morning and prepares breakfast.  This demonstrates to us the goodness (remember the good, good, good, good, good, good, very good of Genesis 1?) of life both in body and soul. 

Jesus fed his disciples.  He cared so much for his people that following his resurrection, Jesus first nourished his followers with his presence and physical sustenance.  He didn’t just say, “see I told you so, now get to work!”  No, our savior “knows our frame, he remembers we are but dust” and gives rest, refreshment, and restoration to his children. 

Since they aren’t merely spirits without bodies, the disciples needed to be nourished bodily as well as spiritually.  We ought not deny the interconnectedness of body and soul.  Our physical health affects our spiritual and vice versa!  Take care of your physical health so that your soul will be healthy too.  Taking care of your spiritual health—making use of the means of grace (prayer, God’s word, godly fellowship, and the sacraments when we meet again)—serves your physical health. It’s much easier to serve the kingdom of God when you’ve been nourished in body and soul, preparing to serve in body and soul for the kingdom.

Jesus knew what he was doing.  He made fish for breakfast on a charcoal fire.  There’s only one other charcoal fire in the Bible and Peter is at both of them.  It was near that first charcoal fire that Peter denied Jesus three times.  Our Lord, caring, gentle, and loving used all of Peter’s senses to bring true restoration.  It was painful restoration at first for Peter, but at Pentecost (Acts 2) and following we see that Peter was truly restored.  Jesus restored Peter through a confrontation that made the Apostle remember his betrayal, repent of the betrayal, and then confirm his desire to follow Jesus in body and soul.

As we look forward to the day we can gather bodily together, take care of yourselves in body and soul. 

Pastor Matt

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