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Easter 2020

"Come and have breakfast." (John 21:12)

The third resurrection appearance, according to the Apostle John, took place beside the Sea of Galilee after the disciples had spent the night fishing: "When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. ... Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.' ... Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish." (John 21:9, 12, 13 ESV)

I love everything about this story:  The lakeside scene, the campfire, and the conversation. Words of miracle spoken, and words of friendship restored.  And as everybody knows, breakfast is the best meal of the day!  

It's a minor detail, I know, but here's a question: where did the bread come from?  The disciples had caught fish, but when they got to the campfire there was bread already being warmed. So, did Jesus go out and buy bread?  Did he make it?  Did he harvest the grain, and winnow it, and grind it, and knead it by manual, physical labor, by the "sweat of his brow"?

Did not God say to Adam, "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gen 3:19)? 

The large catch of fish, coming after a long night of fruitless fishing by the disciples, came about at Christ's command. This demonstrated not only Jesus' power, but his rightful dominion over the earth and its creatures.  So why not the bread?  An interesting side-note to this is that Satan believed Jesus to have the right to do so:  "And the tempter came and said to him, 'If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread'" (Matt 4:3).  But of course, that was not the right time to make use of that right.  

I've been thinking about a passage from Herman Bavinck about the resurrection of Christ.  He writes that the resurrection demonstrates many things:  the proof of Christ's identity, the seal upon his finished work, the justification of those who believe in him, the reconciliation of believers with God, and the beginning of his reigning glory in the Father's presence. But according to Bavinck the physicality of the resurrection was vital.  He writes,  

"For Scripture, then, everything depends on the physical resurrection of Christ. The that is integral to the how: if Christ did not rise physically, then death, then sin, then he who had the power of death has not been defeated.  In that case, actually, not Christ but Satan came out the victor. According to Scripture, therefore, the significance of the physical resurrection of Christ is inexhaustibly rich."  (Herman Bavinck, RD III:442; italics in the original)

In other words, if Christ was not raised physically, materially, then all that was lost (the physical world) was not in fact won back. It was not a complete work of redemption -- to be complete he must win it all back.  

Christ accomplished not only the legal and the relational aspects of redemption, but also the physical dimension, as well. The story of redemption begins and ends in a real garden (Gen 2-3).  Jesus is born into this wilderness world, and in the wilderness (not a garden) he triumphed over Satan's temptations (Mark 1:13).  In the garden of Gethsemane he prayed (Jn 18:1), and after the wilderness of the cross he rises and walks in a garden once again (Jn 19:41).  It was his travail and suffering -- the sweat of his brow, the thorns and thistles, and his death -- that restored the garden once again. The tree of death, the cross, purchased access for us to the tree of life (Rev 22:14).  

It was his death, but not a return to dust!  He would not be abandoned to the dust (Ps 16:10), for the restoration of the material creation was accomplished by his death.  So, God raised him from the dead. Physically, bodily, gloriously.  Jesus once again ate with the disciples, and walked and talked with them.  They touched the nail scars upon his now-imperishable body.  The sweat, the thorns, and death itself were borne by the Son of Man. 

So, where did the bread come from at that post-resurrection seaside breakfast with the disciples?  We are not told, and I think it likely he spoke some substance-changing words to a few stones.  Or perhaps he ground some wheat and made some bread.  Yet, by whatever means he made the bread, the sweat and toil and thorns were now behind him.  The new creation had begun.
We his followers, however, live for a season in the in-between.  In between the old and new creations.  We still have to work and sweat to make a living and eat our food.  We do feel the power of the resurrection, of new life, but we live in the now-and-not-yet between creations. Much of the old order still thrashes about.  We sweat and toil and see thorns and thistles and for a while may return to the ground.  But at Christ's return we will see all things (as in, all things) subjected to his power. And then he shall say, "Behold, I am making all things new" (Rev 21:5). 

In the meantime we live with the assurance that Christ's work is complete! And we savor these wonderful words, along with all of his wonderful words: 

"Come and have breakfast." 

Image credit: photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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