Words of Light and Hope from Tony Hawes.
From Cross Purposes by Eddie Askew.
“When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread” John 21.9.
There’s something very earthy and real about Jesus in the Gospels. Whenever I look at old master paintings of the Christian story I’m struck by one thing. It’s nothing to do with the composition or drawing or colour, but the fact that Jesus is almost always portrayed in spotless white robes. Whether he’s depicted teaching by the lakeside, performing a miracle, or chasing traders from the temple, he’s always radiantly clean.
This worries me a bit because I don’t believe it could have been true. Jesus walked dusty Galilean tracks and squelched through Jerusalem mud in the rainy season. He sat on rocks to teach and in working fishing boats. There were times when he slept out on the hillside. Here on the beach he must have made the fire and gutted the fish. The hands that welcomed the tired disciples were not neatly manicured but work-worn, with dirt under the finger nails. He had the smell of fish on them, and the tang of wood smoke on his tunic.
Jesus was part of the real world, and he calls us to be the same. Involved. Sometimes I suspect I’m inclined to stand aside and keep my hands and clothes clean, unblemished by the world. I believe Jesus would rather see the honourable stains of service, my clothes dirtied in an honest attempt to get involved.
Another thought that crosses my mind is equally challenging. It’s the realisation that Jesus comes into my world not neatly starched and ironed, but travel-stained, smelling of smoke and fish, or their modern equivalents, in guises I may not instantly recognise. I must take care I never let him pass by unrecognised.
I see your hands, Lord, by the fire.
Hands of a craftsman calloused by carpentry, gentled by compassion.
Healing hands that touched, turned life around.
Hands of the word made flesh, making flesh new, and spirit too.
New worlds of hope created by your presence…..