Breakfast with Jesus

“Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. (John 21:12)

These are some of the most mundane words you will ever find in all of Scripture. But in context, they are some of the most moving words of all.

“Come and have breakfast.” I’ve spoken these words myself a few times, and they’ve been forgotten almost as soon as I’ve said them. But when Jesus spoke these words, they were unforgettable. That’s why they are recorded for us in John’s Gospel.

Consider the context. The crucified and buried Lord has risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples on two separate occasions. In the process of adjusting to this life-altering event, Peter and some of the other disciples decide to do something familiar. They go fishing. (Remember, they were fishermen before Jesus called them to follow him.)

They get into the boat, fish all night, and catch nothing (not the first time this had happened). Then, just as day is breaking, Jesus calls to them from the shore, but they don’t realize it’s him. “Cast your net on the right side of the boat,” he tells them. And the resulting catch is so large, they’re unable to haul it in.

When they arrive onshore, there is a charcoal fire, some fish laid out on it, and some bread—a welcome sight to weary fisherman. Jesus tells them, “Come and have breakfast.” Then we read that, “Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish” (John 21:13).

What is so moving about this breakfast scene?

Partly it’s the miraculous catch that had just happened after a fishless night on the water – a reminder that “apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5). It was an unforgettable object lesson for those who would soon be fishing
for men.

Maybe it’s that Jesus has invited those who had earlier fled from him to the intimacy of a shared meal on the shore. For Jesus to feed breakfast to such failed men must not only have provided food for their stomachs, but grace to
their souls.

And then there is the charcoal fire. Peter had warmed himself by a “charcoal fire” (John 18:18) just moments before denying three times that he knew Jesus. Now, this same Jesus is inviting Peter (who had just jumped into the water from the fishing boat and swam to shore) to the warmth of a charcoal fire. The grace-filled irony of this should not be missed.

John doesn’t mention it here, but even after his resurrection, Jesus’ hands bore the marks of the nails that were used to crucify him (John 20:27). Consider that Jesus handed out fish and bread to his disciples with nail-scarred hands that morning. Jesus—the risen Lord who defeated sin and Satan and death—is there, on the shore, serving breakfast to his tired and hungry disciples. 

Along with the net full of fish, the crackling fire, the fresh baked bread, and the satisfaction of a hot breakfast, the presence of the risen Lord signals to those weary disciples that everything is going to be okay. And that is true for anyone who receives grace from those same, nail-scarred hands.

To turn for a moment to our own time and place, for the second year in a row, we will not be having breakfast together in our Fellowship Hall on Easter Sunday. Like many others, I will miss this. But isn’t it good to know that the same risen Lord that invited his disciples to breakfast on the shore that morning, invites us to have fellowship with him by faith? Jesus calls us, failed and flawed though we are, to find warmth and strength and satisfaction in him, the one who defeated death for us.

And so, as we remember Good Friday’s cross and Sunday’s empty tomb, let’s not forget Jesus’ invitation to his worn and weary disciples, to come and have breakfast with him.

Pastor Jonathan Kroeker