John 21 v5-14
“He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.”
These disciples led by Peter not only had gone back to their fishing, they had gone back as failures, disappointed and for Peter especially in need of healing from the guilt of denial. Making it worse, they came back with nothing. They were not even good fishermen anymore!
Jesus on the shore creates a beautiful scene which is a re-creation of their memories. There are transformational hooks in our memories that we can go back to where we can once again be fired back into life and the person God has called us to be.
- The event of encountering the God who calls.
We know from Luke’s gospel (ch.5) that they have already experienced this miracle of fishing. The outcome of the first miraculous catch of fish was that they received their calling. They would leave everything and follow Jesus. They would be fishers of men. Jesus re-enacts the scene. He is bringing them back to their primary calling. He is re-aligning them.
- The event of encountering a lavish God.
Why did they catch so many? “Remember that miraculous catch when our nets began to tear so we had to call other boats to come and help us?” This time they struggled to pull their nets in because they were full of fish but their nets were not torn. John is one for detail and he shows it by remembering the number. Why 153 large fish? Is this some symbolic meaning understood by those who study numerology? Or is it just a fun number, an odd number just to make everyone smile? I don’t know. But it’s lavish! Jesus is calling them back to walking with a God who produces surprising moments for those who follow him.
- The event of encountering a God who multiplies what is in His hand.
Why could the disciples not see a bbq from a 100 yards away? Only if the bbq was quite small. When they land “they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.” Jesus doesn’t ask Peter to bring the fish in because he doesn’t have enough to feed them though that is probably what they thought. So here is Peter and the disciples counting up 153 large fish on the shore and then Jesus announces “Breakfast is served!”
No one asks Jesus where he got his fish from?
So 7 fishermen and Jesus have breakfast that Jesus has already made for them. The original meaning is that Jesus had 1 fish and a bread (cake). He didn’t have a lot on that bbq. The disciples turn away from the 153 large fish and start eating the breakfast Jesus had prepared for them. “Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” Their minds are taken back of course to the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus didn’t have much to work with back then either. The multiplication was huge. 5 loaves and 2 titbits of fish which were no more than a garnish to cover the bread compared to the huge need of feeding 5,000 men plus women and children.
God will build with whatever and whoever you have become. I don’t understand it but God is a master at using small things. But put who you are and what you have into the hands of Jesus and see what He does! And there will always be left-overs, whether 12 baskets or 153 large fish!
Whatever you are going through today let God remind you of things in the recesses of your memory. Times when He called you; when He lavished His love and blessing on you and when He took what seemed so small and insignificant and multiplied it many times to bless many.
He is calling you back again from failure and disappointment. He hasn’t finished with you yet.