John: Coda

John 21:1–25

When I was a teenager listening to CDs, it was popular for artists to put “secret songs” at the end of an album. You’d think the record was over but if you left it on for another 25 minutes of silence, there’d be another song.

Some of my favorite sitcoms have a tag or coda at the end. The story proper has ended. The credits have rolled. But there’s one more gag left.

Marvel has teased nearly all of its upcoming movies with adding a scene after the credits.

I think that’s what’s going on in this last chapter of John. He pretty much wrapped it all up and summarized the whole thing in 20:30–31. John gives us one last scene. It has a lot of echoes with the previous one. It involves characters who don’t recognize Jesus. The spotlight is on the dynamic between Jesus, Peter, and the “disciple Jesus loved.”

One last miracle.

One last meal together.

The last time they’d eaten together, the meal had been the formalized ritual of Passover. This one is casual breakfast on the beach. The last meal was haunted by a heavy sense of foreboding and dread. There’s a light-hearted, jovial quality here.

There’s that hint again that wherever Jesus is, there is more than enough. Echoes to the feeding of the multitude with fish and bread.

And then this curious exchange with Peter. Peter, who had denied Jesus three times on the night of his betrayal. And while Peter was there at the empty tomb, what Peter had done, for us the reader, still hangs unresolved.

What if there’s something there for us? If when we wrong Jesus, he simply asks, Do you love me?

Curious, too, that the other gospels record Jesus’ invitation Follow me at the beginning of the story. John doesn’t mention it until here at the very end. Perhaps for John, the invitation to follow Jesus is not just for beginning the story but for continuing it day by day.

What about you? What do you see?


About peterjwhite

I am a pastor to college students in Tulsa, OK.
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