The Reality of the Resurrection of Christ – Father Istifanus Sheyin
Chapter 21 of the gospel of John is written as an epilogue. It is meant to further demonstrate the reality of the resurrection of Christ. Certain theologians in the history of the church dared to make a distinction between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith, the pre-Easter and the post-Easter Jesus. Some say the appearance of Christ was an imagination, a vision or hallucination. But we see that the empty tomb was real and the living Christ is real and has a real body with marks of the nails pierced on him. In the gospel, when Jesus resurrected, his body was not found in the tomb, the soldiers were bribed by the guards to go and say the disciples stole the body at night. But even with that, they didn’t succeed in covering the truth. Therefore, the appearance of Jesus was not a vision. A vision cannot appear to the fishermen and cook a meal for them. This tells us that the resurrection is a reality that has come to stay with us.
There is a movie titled A case for Christ. In this movie, an atheist decides to investigate whether Christ is real or not. He decided to embark upon this because his wife was always going to church and he needed to know the reason why. In his quest, he stumbles upon several pieces of evidence of the reality of Christ and in the end, gives his life to God. This movie expresses, among other things, the reality that we must enjoy and glory in the resurrection- that it can never be denied.
In order to deepen this reality, Christ goes further to have a chat with Peter. He asked him a fundamental question “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” The word these here is plural. There are possibly two interpretations of this:
- Christ met them fishing and was pointing to the boat, net and fishing equipment. This meant that He was asking if Peter was willing to leave all that to follow him. The question for us is that do we love Christ more than these? More than business? Some do not go to church because they claim to have work to do. This means they place God secondary after their work. This is sad.
- Christ was looking at the other apostles and remembered when Peter denied him three times. The question thus meant, do you love me more than these your fellow disciples and brothers? It is important to ask the question. Peter did not argue. He just said you know I love you. He did not argue even when Christ repeated the question.
The symbolism of the questioning is that since Peter denied Christ three times, so Christ gave him the opportunity to declare his love three times. Christ knew there was more to Peter than his mistakes and Peter expressed this profoundly in what became a threefold declaration of love. Every time we do the wrong thing, we deny Christ. The love of Christ is a task and a cross. Love always involves responsibility. We do not really love Christ until we take up the task and cross. Peter accepted this cross and when it was time for him to be killed, he opted to be crucified upside down.
In the first reading, Peter and the others chose not to desert Christ. They chose not to deny him. They put God first before anything else. When we put God first, everything in our lives will take their proper places. Make a decision for Christ today because when we listen to the world, we will commit sin with impunity. These sins include but are not limited to Corruption, greed, licentiousness, injustice, among others. Christ has given us the opportunity and challenges us to be witnesses. We need to be witnesses to the truth, not lies, justice not injustice, kindness not wickedness and love, not hatred. May God bless His words in our hearts and help us as we strive to be witnesses to His glory through Christ our Lord. Amen.