This was first posted in April 2012.
I hope you won’t mind if I share a personal testimony with you on this occasion.
I began the Easter period this year with a prayer that I might have a deeper grasp of the reality of the resurrection of Jesus. In the prevailing sceptical climate I felt the need for it. It has always seemed to me that a warm, fresh, revelatory (rather than mental) grasp of that great truth is a paramount need of Christians. After all, it was the grasp of that reality that brought back life and joy to the disciples after Good Friday and gave them their new strength and momentum. It was the resurrected Jesus was the starting point for their preaching and witness.
For the disciples the reality of Jesus resurrection was only too evident; he actually moved frequently among them, ate with them and taught them. What an amazing and privileged experience! Even Paul the apostle did not experience that, but he did have a most amazing visitation from Jesus in which he heard his voice and in which he was blinded by the revelation of his glory.
There was no going back after such a revelation. In our own times (especially in the Moslem world at the moment) many people have had visions of Jesus or seen him in dreams and heard him speak. The reality of those experiences has,as with Paul, sent them out on a life journey of witness with persecution and rejection and given them sufficient impulsion to sustain them through such trials. Such testimonies are thoroughly biblical in nature and remind me immediately of the revelation that John had of the ascended Jesus, which he describes in Rev. 2.
But, what of me? What of my prayer? The answer did not come as vision or dream or visible reality of that sort. But it came very quickly, and it came in a manner in which I have been refreshed in the fact of the resurrection many times before. On the very same morning as the I had prayed I was having a “catch-up” coffee with a friend. It was a good time, though I was struggling with stress headaches from too much computer work and from trying to marry an old printer to a new machine and print an important hand-out for a meeting.Toward the end of the coffee time my friend suddenly produced a cheque book and said, “I would like to buy you something you need”. I was taken aback and blurted out the struggles I was having with the computer. Immediately my friend said, “You need a new printer – I’ll buy you one!”, and promptly wrote out a very generous cheque saying, “Get a good one, not a cheap one!”
The fact was I did not need the money for a new printer. I could have got one myself really. What I could not do at that moment, with all the struggling, was to pull myself together enough make the decision as to whether it was right to spend money on a new printer, and if had been able to make such a decision I would certainly have bought a cheap one. But here was something being offered in abundance and in genuine love which somehow immediately gave me the strength to go on from the coffee shop and buy a new printer and then complete the all-important hand out. It was a direct gift from God.
What has this rather self-centred story got to do with the resurrection of Jesus? Well, it was one of those moments I have come to call a “catch of fish” moment. You will remember that after the resurrection, Peter, John and others (in an anxious and difficult time) went fishing one night and caught nothing. In the early morning an unknown figure on the shore told them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. When they did so, they promptly caught an enormous number of fish. The critical point in the story, however, comes with John’s comment to Peter, “It is the Lord” (meaning “it is Jesus”), referring to the figure on the bank. Contemplating an overflowing catch of fish, larger it would seem than was needed, and in unusual circumstances gave him a revelation that the hand of the risen Lord was in this. This was not really a catch of fish; this was a meeting with the risen Jesus.
When the cheque book appeared on the table after coffee and the over abundant offer was made of a printer, I was standing exactly where John stood and saying exactly what he said, “It is the Lord!” It as a moment of revelation, and the presence of Jesus was palpable (at least to me!). The generous (almost overgenerous) cheque fell into the background as I am sure the 158 fish (an overgenerous catch!) fell into the background in the sheer exuberance that the real thing had been a personal meeting with the Lord. My friend gave me something not merely of immediate physical or emotional need, but of profound spiritual need, namely a chance to glimpse the reality of Jesus in our midst.
His Resurrection & Everyday Life
So my prayer brought no visions, no dreams, but nonetheless a profoundly biblical and God-given moment with the resurrected Jesus in an ordinary life situation. I suspect that is where and how the risen Jesus wants to meet most of us and assure us that he is constantly with us. I have been aware of other and different ways in which the risen Lord manifests himself to us now in our times, but this Easter, for me, this was the way it happened. Actually, it was one of at least three similar “catch of fish” incidents during the last week.
May God give us all the eyes and heart of John, to see and recognise the hand of the Master, and then, having seen, to testify. Had it not been for John’s comment, even Peter might have missed the wonder of the Lord’s hand.
Hallelujah! He is risen indeed!