Thursday, April 23, 2014
When Jesus turns up for work
Fishermen at work stowing nets, about 100 years ago on Lake Galilee
John 21:2-4 (NASB)
Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of the disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them: “I am going fishing.” They said to him: “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus…
YESTERDAY I met a friend at their work. Another friend joined us from his work across town. The purpose was, firstly, friendship and secondly to talk about Jesus in the workplace and to pray together.
We are all agreed that being a Christian in the workplace – bringing Christian values and integrity, on a foundation of solid Christian belief – is no different in essence to what we enjoy doing as church, in a home group, a team or mission situation, or contributing to the expression of praise and fellowship in a Sunday gathering.
We are also agreed that it has its own complexities. For a start, there are business conventions and Christian conventions and they don’t always play well together.￼ When a colleague passes through the office, the temptation is to stop praying and freeze in suspended animation – why? The short answer is, it doesn’t feel comfortable.
Of the post-resurrection appearances that are recorded, nearly all were to a group of people together. Only one was to an individual, Mary from Magdala. She had come from a place of much demonic oppression, and she was a woman. In that culture, either identity spelt a self image needing plenty of encouragement.
So, for the men, did the transition from being the apprentice of a miracle-working authoritative-teaching rabbi, back to ropes, oars and nets as a fisherman, reeking of tar and fish and getting used to the sardonic deck humour of the working fraternity. “That little jaunt didn’t last long, then!”. Jesus appeared to them, too, as they were ending a night of hauling nets without a catch to sell.
Jesus didn’t appear to people in the synagogue, or the Temple courts, or at the place of prayer. I think we can assume that would have been emphasised by the gospel writers.
Neither did He appear to the main players on their own. Peter, James and John didn’t get their own explanation; however, Mary did, Cleopas and friend did, Thomas, the late adopter, who wanted to be sure, had his in a special way. ‘Second-chance Peter’, who had publicly and shamefully failed, was singled out for unusual affirmation as he stood dripping with the nets nearby – the workplace he knew best. These were ordinary and rather imperfect believers, warts and all, going about their lives and their work as best they knew how.
Whether you feel comfortable talking to Jesus at work or not, He gave you your work and showed you your mission field, so why shouldn’t He be interested in it? He has already invested in you and placed you where you are, and you represent him there five days a week. Jesus is not only alive, He’s in your area, ready to rule and reign wherever we and others will let Him.