Most scholars tend to agree that the 21st chapter of John is an epilogue, added later. They argue over when it was added and by who, but I'm not really interested in that piece of the debate. What I care about is why it was added. Why, after the nice, tidy finish of Jesus appearing in the upper room, breathing the Spirit, sending his disciples, reappearing for Thomas' sake, and then John's closing editor's note, does John (or pseudo-John, honestly who cares) then choose to reopen the story?
It reminds me of sitting in a movie theater, seeing the credits begin to roll and saying, "you know what, I'm not leaving yet, something else is coming." And sometimes it does. The best scene in 40 year old virgin is the Age of Aquarius song and dance routine.
John closes the scene and his book at the end of John 20 and then reopens it after a brief pause to say, "And you know what? They didn't get it."
Jesus appeared to them twice. They saw him. They touched him. They heard his commissioning words. The smelled his stinky breath. And then they waited. We don't know how long they waited, though it couldn't have been more than 50 days. And when it didn't seem like he was coming back a third time, they gave up, headed to Galilee and returned to their old lives.
And so the book gets reopened. Jesus comes back for an encore appearance, and this time, does whatever is necessary to get his boys off their butts and into his service. For most of them, it was the chance to be a part of another miraculous catch. For Peter, it was a return to the courtyard, charcoal fire and all, and the chance to say, "I do love you." For the Disciple Jesus Loved (a piece we don't get in the Lectionary) it was the knowledge that he'd be around for a good long while.
And, then, it seems, they got it. So John closes the book again. This time for good.
Today I give thanks that God reopens books and adds chapters of hope and restoration. I give thanks for encore appearances and words and signs that get us moving. I give thanks for second (third, fourth,...) chances.