Australian readers may like to ponder that today coincides with Anzac Day (though the actual holiday's tomorrow). Those who landed on the beach at Gali-poli in 1915, & those on the beach in Gali-lee this first Easter both had to face the hard fact of a monumental stuff-up! On the one hand, the generals got Galipoli monumentally wrong & sent rank after rank of our young men as lambs to the slaughter (ah, religious terminology!). Talking of lambs, surely God must have stuffed up too, with his Messiah ending up crowned with the then equivalent of barbed wire & nailed on a cross? Even the smallest Australian town has its War Memorial, monument to the futility of that war, & the pain that seared most families in our young nation. Are our churches simply more overtly religious equivalents to these memorials? Did God get it monumentally wrong, too, in his determination to love us to bits? Can we ever untangle such a mystery? Of course not! We can only enter into this kind of God so far as grace can take us, & that will mean at least some suffering on our part, too. So we can be raised again with Jesus.
The apostle-disciples we meet up with by Lake Galilee today are suffering in their own way, grappling as best they can with the mystery of what's been going on. They've distanced themselves, geographically, from recent events in Jerusalem, while they try to get back to normal(!) But they can't distance themselves from God any more than we can. He meets them, as ever, where & as they are. Shows them love won't go away any more than it will admit defeat. Though JN doesn't call this a 'sign', that's what it is. Before we can move on from a Galipoli or a Galilee, we have to recognize the God in our midst, maybe more recognizable in the worst of times than in the best. But only by those who through grace persist into the mystery. Who don't settle, spiritually speaking, for 'fast, junk, food'.
The great catch of fishes isn't a red herring. It points (a sign) to the fact that the barbecue breakfast re-inforces & continues Jesus' habit of eating with people. Connecting the pangs of physical hunger with our spiritual pangs, too.Whether we realise it or not. Nor is Jesus' word fencing match with Peter just a diversion about sheep. It, soo, is a sign. That the real message is Love Alive Among Us after hate & death have done their worst. At Galipolis & Galilees everywhere, wherever you & I are blown to bits by what other people do to us, or bog down in our own self-pity.
Jesus' little word game with Peter presupposes a prior reconciliation between them after the latter's denial during the Passion. (1 COR 15:5 probably encapsulates that, though it's more revealing for the post-Resurrection appearances it omits than those it touches on.) We all need to deal with God head to head, heart to heart, failure & all, his (as we see it, or at least ponder the possibility) or ours. We need to enter this combat of love personally, & together as part of the Body. Sometimes we learn the personal bit first, sometimes the Body bit. (The latter gives Paul's 'body parts' a renewed meaning!) But whichever way we experience it, the combat of love is both personal & Bodily. That's the only way we're ever able to obey Jesus' "Follow me" with which the Gospel ends but discipleship begins - & keeps on keeping on, mystery & all.