Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. --John 21:12-14
One summer while Emily and I were living in St. Paul, MN we took a short vacation to western North Dakota to visit my grandfather. I was in seminary at the time and finances were a little tight, so we reached out to some friends and family members to see if we could stay with them while traveling rather than paying for motel rooms. Our plan worked well, but it seems that whenever you stay with friends or family while traveling you’re bound to come home with a story or two worth sharing. That trip of ours certainly didn’t disappoint.
Dan was a college roommate of mine my junior year at Concordia College in Moorhead, MN. After graduation Dan’s wife, also named Emily, was completing her studies to become a Registered Dietician, so they lived in an apartment in Moorhead at the time before Dan would begin PhD work at the University of Iowa. We stayed with Dan and Emily the first night of our trip. After an evening of conversation and eating an overly-cooked carry-out pizza we rested for the night.
The next morning I awoke to a peculiar smell. From the air mattress in the living room I could see Dan in the kitchen scrambling a bowl of eggs. Even though it was very early in the morning, Dan noticed me looking at him and quickly filled a cup of coffee and delivered it to me with an enthusiastic “Good morning!” The smell was smoked salmon being warmed in a pan. A little out of the ordinary, perhaps, but breakfast was smoked salmon, scrambled eggs, and red grapes that day. I remember asking Dan, “Salmon, for breakfast?” His response was, “Of course! There is nothing better than breakfast fish!” The phrase “breakfast fish” still makes Emily and me smile to this day because of our experience staying at Dan’s place.
We might not be accustomed to eating fish for breakfast, but for Jesus’ disciples, it seemed to be perfectly normal yet holy. The disciples appeared to have returned to normal life after Jesus’ death and resurrection because they were back to fishing at the conclusion of John’s Gospel. The third time that he appeared to his disciples after being raised from the dead, Jesus instructed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat after having an unsuccessful night of fishing. The resulting, abundant haul should have broken their nets, but they were able to get their catch to shore. They shared bread and fish that morning with their risen Savior. The fruit of their labor had been blessed, consecrated by Christ himself. Partaking in breakfast fish with Christ was a holy moment.
Dan’s offering of breakfast fish was a sign of his hospitality toward friends. Neither Emily nor I will forget that meal or the welcome and sending we received. Jesus’ invitation to “Come and have breakfast” was a sign of blessing and commissioning. Peter was commanded by Christ to feed his followers shortly thereafter. Being fed and sent is a theme that we live out throughout our lives, whether we are staying with friends while traveling or receiving anew the gift of grace in God’s Word and in Holy Communion. What “breakfast fish” do you have to offer to others in Christ’s name? What are the signs of God’s hospitality, compassion, love, forgiveness, mercy, and commissioning working through you? We are called to share these gifts openly with others as Christ first shared with us.