Last Sunday, Easter 3, our pastor preached on the appearance of the resurrected Jesus to His disciples by the shore of the lake, as recorded in John 21:1-19. Rev. Douthwaite showed how our being “children” of God is an image of our status in the Gospel, referring not to what we do but to what we are:
He says to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” Children. They’re children here – not disciples, not apostles. For those two titles focus more on what they do – those who follow, those who are sent. But children focuses on what God has done. Because no one does anything to make yourself a child. Being a child happens to you. You are born or adopted into a family. And so while disciple and apostle is the calling given to them and what they then did, children is who they are.
Which is important here because, once again, what the disciples did is fail! They were out all night and (again!) caught nothing. They denied, betrayed, doubted, ran away, and hid when the going got tough. And how often we fail in our vocations, in our lives, in the tasks assigned to us. But that does not change their status as children of God. For children don’t have to earn their way into the family or earn their keep in it – they are loved because they are children. So it is with the disciples, so it is with Paul – who Jesus made His child even though Paul was working against Jesus! – and so it is with us. We’re children of God because we’ve been made so in Holy Baptism. In those waters Jesus came to us and said: you are mine. And so we are. And that day was Easter day for us! The day (as Paul would later write in his letter to the Romans) when we died with Christ and were resurrected with Christ to a new life (Romans 6).