A beach barbecue with God
Amost a decade ago, Joan Osborne’s song called One of Us got people thinking about what it might be like if God stepped into history and was walking and interacting with people like you and I in everyday situations.
I was recalling that song recently when I read the last chapter of John’s gospel in the Bible.
If you’ve never read this bit of the Bible, it is worth tracking down and reading, because it gives us a unique glimpse into the character of Jesus Christ, his priorities, and his relationship with some good friends in the midst of “normal life”.
The story is set many days after Jesus has been crucified and resurrected, but he has not yet returned to heaven.
It seems that Peter and a handful of other disciples have decided to head out onto the lake and spend a night fishing. As dawn comes upon them we find out that they’ve caught nothing, which had to be fairly discouraging to those in the group who were fishermen by trade.
We also learn that an unidentified figure has also appeared on the empty beach and that he calls out to the fisherman over the water. This person instructs the fishermen to try throwing their nets in a particular direction. The crew, for whatever reason, follow this anonymous person’s advice and the result is a haul of fish so large that they can’t even get the catch into the boats.
It’s at this moment that one of the fisherman, who happens to be John who records the story for us to read, recognizes the mystery man on the shore as none other than Jesus.
Peter, caught up in the excitement of having another chance to spend time with Jesus, jumps into the water and swims to the beach while his friends bring the boat in.
What awaits the men on the beach is not only Jesus, who has only appeared twice before since his resurrection, but the smell of fish cooking on a beach-fire and fresh bread warming in the coals.
John records several other notable bits from the encounter, including a dialogue between Jesus and Peter that involves the Lord reaffirming his follower after some earlier denials that Peter had made about even knowing Jesus.
But it’s what John doesn’t record from that early morning BBQ on the water-front that has made the biggest impression on me.
John doesn’t record any of the chatter that occurs with these men over the meal that they were sharing.
Apparently it wasn’t anything note-worthy.
And that is what I love about it (whatever “it” was).
Jesus has risen from the dead, is about to commission his followers to spread the message of salvation around the entire planet, and his agenda with these friends is nothing more than small-talk and hanging out together.
He spends time talking with them about trivial items (when compared with the eternal destiny of every person for all of history) that are important to them. Jesus cares about them.
And so the song rings out in my mind, “What if God was one of us ...”
Well, it turns out that God did take the time to step into history and walk among us and that one of the glimpses we are left with is this: an early morning beach BBQ with friends, talking about stuff that you and I won’t even care about, but that Jesus knew that those guys cared about.
It’s a glimpse of a God who is interested. Now that is a God worth knowing more ... I think I’ll head off to the beach and read more of what John’s book has to say.
Would you consider joining me?
Dan King is Pastor to Youth and Young Adults at Parksville Baptist Church.