Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Jesus Appears to the Disciples - Again!


Jesus Appears to the Disciples - Again!

When Tim and I were first married, I was working at Charleston Area Medical Center and taking graduate classes at night. It worked out very well, I worked 12 hour days - 6 - 6, had an hour off for dinner and then would go to class at 7. The classes were being held in a building that actually connected to the hospital. Couldn’t have been a better arrangement! Classes lasted from 7 until 9:30 and then I drove home. We had bought our first house and were living in Sissonville then - a small town about 15 - 20 minutes west of Charleston - famous for the MTV Series Buckwild! The drive from Charleston was easy, just up the interstate; because I left so early in the morning and got home so late I always drove it in the dark! One night as I was driving back home after class - it was just me on the road which was usually the case - I was looking up at the darkened sky when all of a sudden I saw this green ball streak across the sky and then explode into what looked like flames. It was a miracle I didn’t wreck because I was so awestruck by this sight - so I was pretty fortunate there were no other cars on the road. I was just filled with this sense of awe and wonder over what I had seen. I couldn’t imagine what it was and even wondered for a minute if I had imagined the whole thing - but even I didn’t think I would have imagined a big green ball streaking across the sky and blowing up. When I got home I of course told Tim about it - and in the days before Facebook or Twitter or any of these instant information sources - I wondered how I could find out what it was. Tim suggested I call the airport - 911 operators would probably question my sanity and there really wasn’t a crime to report....... so I did call the Charleston airport. After being routed around to several people, I was finally on the phone with a very nice gentleman who told me that what I had seen was a meteor falling through the atmosphere and then burning up. A fairly common occurrence I was told but usually not visible unless the conditions were just right. And in fact this had happened over the air space in Kentucky. Now I think about the wonder with which I witnessed this unusual event and it was such an awesome visual picture that I remember it today as if it had just happened.
But how often are we overtaken by this sense of wonder; how often are we filled with a sense of awe at something that occurs. Because of TV and Movies and the Internet and YouTube and video games that are so real you can’t tell the difference between real and game, visual effects create scenes that are pretty preposterous yet look very real - we just aren’t so easily thrilled by a beautiful sunset or a brilliantly colored bird flying to our window or the stars on a clear night. We don’t marvel at nature or feel intimidated by a roaring thunderstorm. We are just immune to the nuances of nature around us. But yet when we read much of scripture, that is what we see - this great feeling of wonderment at the stars at night and the sun in the sky, at the working of the animals and the variety of fish swimming in the sea. The Hebrews had this great reverence for lightning and thunder and even a simple thing like the springing up of their crops. The things of God filled them with a sense of reverence and respect and admiration for God’s handiwork.
Much of the reason we aren’t quite so awestruck is because we have this thing called science. Whether we liked science or not, we all had to take these science classes all the way through school. We learned how rain was made and that the stars were distant suns and that a sun was a ball of burning gas. We learned how fish breathed through gills underwater and how seeds planted in the soil grew into plants. We learned that it was the rotation of the earth that created our seasons....... And learning the ‘how’ of so much around us robbed us of some of that sense of wonder because now we could explain how these things happened. Unlike the ancient Hebrews who would look at the sky at night and wonder in amazement at these points of light in the sky or who looked at a flame in wonder of how that flame produced light and heat or even how the flame came to be. As we read through much of the Old Testament and especially the Psalms we understand this sense of wonder of God’s people - since they didn’t know how anything worked their only explanation was that God did


it. There was a much greater sense that God was in charge of everything because they couldn’t tell you that seasons came and went because of the tilt of the earth in proximity to the sun so the explanation was just - God did it and any God who could do such a thing must be someone spectacular .
Both stories we read today had our characters feeling a sense of awe and wonder. The Isaiah story shows us Isaiah, just an average guy working in the palace of the King. Good cushy job, secure and pretty easy; good pay. Just a normal routine life. When one night he has a vision - a dream. And in that vision he is taken up into the courts of heaven and on the throne he sees God - and he is awestruck. God in all his glory and splendor with robes flowing down to the floor and angels flying around him singing God’s praises. What an amazing sight! And Isaiah is so filled with wonder he falls on his knees and hides his face because he doesn’t feel he is worthy to see such a beautiful sight. Being in God’s presence and this feeling of just overwhelming majesty - a truly awesome experience! Isaiah is filled with wonder and awe at God!
The story from the book of John took place during these 40 days after the resurrection when Jesus is sort of flitting around visiting his disciples. The disciples are still unsure of what is going on and what they are suppose to be doing and since Jesus is sort of here some and not here some they decide to go and do the one thing they do know about - and that is fishing. Remember, most of the disciples were fishermen before they became disciples of Jesus. They do what we often do, in times of stress and uncertainty, we do something we are familiar with. The disciples go fishing. But they are not having any success. They have fished all night and haven’t caught a thing and now that it is getting to be morning they are pretty discouraged. They look at the shore and there stands Jesus - remember Jesus’ occupation was as a carpenter, not a fisherman. Jesus, however, still gives the disciples some fishing advice. “Throw your net onto the other side of the boat” he yells out to them. They sort of look at him funny - after all what does a carpenter know about fishing. But it is Jesus and they figure they ought to at least humor him - so to the other side of the boat they go and throw in their nets - and lo and behold catch more fish than the net can hold! Their amazement came at the fact that here this carpenter was able to even help them with fishing! It was an awe inspiring moment that Jesus is able to help the disciples with their fishing - and we need to think of Jesus in the same way - “Jesus can’t help me. He doesn’t understand what I am going through” or “What can Jesus do about my situation? I’m not worthy, or important enough, or needy enough for Jesus to help me.” Not so. We are all important to Jesus - every one of us and there is not a situation here that Jesus cannot help with. And if we just turn to him and listen to him and let him in - we too can be filled with wonder over what this carpenter can do! It is a matter of putting aside logic and our understanding and even our desires about how things should work out and just let the risen Christ be a part of our life - and if we do that we will constantly be filled with wonder over what he really can do!
We, who live as people who are enlightened about the things around us; who understand the difference between reality and fantasy; who think logically and rationally and realistically. Yet God wants to fill us with wonder and awe over what he has done for us in Jesus Christ. He wants us to be awestruck over a story that makes no rational sense - there is no logic to angels telling women about a man who has raised from the dead; there is no logic to the once dead Jesus walking along a road and talking to people who don’t recognize him; of a Jesus who can just appear in a room but yet still has a substance the disciples can see and feel;
Its a nice story. But it needs to become more than that - we need to understand the reality of what God has done even if it doesn’t seem possible to our science oriented minds. God has raised his son from the dead; he has empowered him in a way our logical minds can’t conceive - yet he calls us to believe with all our being that it is real! There really were angels sitting at the tomb, Jesus really did raise from the dead, Jesus really could appear through walls - And these mystical, magical events are what are the basis of our faith. And these events need to fill us with a feeling of awe and wonder at what God truly can do.

Amen!