Reflection on the Lectionary: John 21:1-19
Animals: Tradition - Philosophy - Religion Article from


Stephen Kaufman, M.D., Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

Reflection on the Lectionary: John 21:1-19
(April 18, 2010)

I am indebted to Rev. Frank Hoffman for helpful insights into this week’s comments. As Rev. Hoffman has noted, Jesus might have been referring to the fish when he asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15). When Peter affirmed his love, Jesus replied, “Feed my lambs.” We may recall that Peter had been fishing when Jesus called him to become a “fisher of men” (Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17). According to this interpretation, John 21 describes Jesus asking Peter whether Peter preferred to catch fish or to be a disciple. Jesus had called Peter away from fishing toward a ministry that involved reconciling all God’s creation.
Prior to this exchange with Peter, Jesus demonstrated his divinity by miraculously assisting the disciples in catching fish (John 21:6). Did Jesus not care about the fish? If Jesus killed fish in order to save people, then in essence he was sacrificing one group of innocent individuals, the fish, for others, his disciples. Even if one did not place a high value on fish, they are living, feeling creatures, and their destruction would seem to contradict the notion that Jesus had a nonsacrificial ministry. However, this was a miracle story, and consequently one may envision the miracle consisting of God creating fish as food, in which case there was no need for the fish to have the capacity to feel pain as normal fish do. By analogy, God created manna and dead quail for the Hebrews in the desert.

Go on to: Commentary on the Lectionary: John 10:22-30
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