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INTRODUCTION: We have one last message in our series about the last days of Jesus’ life on earth.
There are many more events and issues we could address, of course, but this would take us almost a whole year to do so.
I have tended to address issues or events which come to my mind which are some of my favorites.
Partly because they are familiar, but partly because they have been misunderstood by a lot of people.
Take for instance this passage in the last chapter of John’s Gospel.
Jesus has risen from the dead, and he has appeared to the apostles as a group two previous times.
The first time was on Easter Sunday, the second time was the following day.
This even is probably at least a week, more likely two weeks after the second sighting, and before Pentecost.
A few of the commentaries I looked at reflect the general impression that these men are out of God’s will, or, are in danger of slipping back into their former lives instead of doing what Jesus had been training them to do.
But I don’t agree.
Let me remind you of a couple things as before we examine this passage.
Jesus’ last visit with them was in Jerusalem, probably in their hideout.
He told them to go to Galilee to wait for Him, AND, Jesus suggested that they were to wait for anointing of the Holy Spirit who would guide them.
For the most part these were men of action.
A man of action can only sit around and do nothing for so long.
I think this is what we see at the beginning of this passage.
I. Why Worry While Waiting :1-3
Jesus knew that Peter had intangible leadership qualities.
Sure, he often spoke without thinking and he tended to have a the philosophy of doing something rather than sit around waiting.
Jesus told him that Satan had gotten permission to sift him as wheat, but Jesus said He had prayed for him, so that when he returned he should strengthen his brothers.
So here we have an instance where Peter does not say, “Let’s go fishing,” or “Everyone, come with me; we’re going fishing!”
He merely says “I’m going fishing.”
And six other of the disciples said, “Me too.”
Why there were not 11 of them going, or were all of them former fishermen like Peter, James, and John, is hard to say, and all we can do is guess, since it doesn’t really matter.
By the time you get to the end of this chapter you will see that arguably the main goal of this incident is for Jesus to solidify Peter’s position as leader of the group.
You know the end of the story is that they fished all night and caught nothing.
Fishermen tell me that the best fishing is at night, so this couldn’t be the reason they caught nothing.
Some argue that Jesus purposefully prevented them from catching anything to teach them that they are supposed to be catching people, not fish.
Seasoned fishermen tell me there is a difference between going fishing and going catching.
Without reading too much into this narrative, let me move on to the arrival of their (and our) Lord.
Waiting For Jesus is Worth It :4-7
The first thing I want to say about Jesus is that
He came unexpectedly
I can easily imagine the day after the disciples arrived in Galilee that they got up early hoping to see Jesus even before breakfast.
He didn’t show up, so, no big deal, let’s eat.
Then they sat around waiting all day, believing He’s show up any minute.
Every footstep, every new sound of a voice might be Him.
Maybe that first day they stayed up well after dark, but eventually fell asleep.
Day after day their hope began to wane.
Finally, after so many days, perhaps all 7 of them are sitting on the shoreline watching other fishermen come and go, perhaps confabulating about their old fishing days.
Finally, probably one of the boats they use to own was just moored there, so they jumped into the dingy, rowed out to it, and spent all night fishing.
Jesus shows up that next morning, just as the sun was coming up, and while the men were about a hundred yards away, He shouts out to them, “You haven’t caught any fish, have you?”
Of course, He knew the anwer to the question.
They don’t recognize His voice, either because He disguised it, or He was too far away, but whoever this man was makes the brazen suggestion that He knows where the fish are when the professional fishermen don’t know!
It could be, though, that they think whoever this is WAS a professional.
He came unexpectedly
They had waited ~two weeks
The sun was barely at it’s peak
Jesus was 100 yards from them
How brazen to tell fishermen where to catch fish!
ILLUSTRATION: I am not much of a fisherman, and it isn’t even close to being an obsession with me, but I have a brother named Levi who is.
For years he kept trying to get me to fish with him, but I just wasn’t interested.
Finally, he said, “I’ll tell you what, you get a Maine fishing license and if you don’t catch any fish I’ll pay you back for it.”
So I got a 3-day license one time a few years ago.
We got into his very nice bass boat and headed out on a pond near his house, it might have been Caribou Pond, and we came to a floating island.
We slowly approached one side of it, cast a line out, no fish.
Changed bait; no fish.
We drifted around to the opposite side and he said, “See that branch in the indentation there?
Cast your lure right there and you’ll drag in a big one.”
I did and low and behold I caught the biggest bass I had ever reeled in!
Of course, it was the only bass I had ever caught in my life, and it wasn’t a keeper.
And THAT is a confabulation!
Fishermen seem to know the exact spot where fish hangout.
The problem I have is this: is it POSSIBLE that all night long these professional fishermen have only been casting the net on the port side of the boat, or maybe aft, or even off the bow, but NOT off the starboard side?
Seems a little strange to me.
I think Jesus is orchestrating an event that will send their minds back two years, plus or minus to this event:
I don’t think Jesus was angry with them, it is just that He saw an opportunity to remind them that while they were waiting for Him AND the Holy Spirit, they do not want to forget their purpose in their calling.
Up to this point, much of what Jesus taught them seemed to be theory.
Much like a carpenter sitting in a classroom day after day learning about measuring, tool safety, design, tips and tricks of the trade; watching videos on how to safely how to use a hammer, and a saw, and a transit, and levels, and stud finders, and on and on, week after week.
“When are we going to see some real tools and material and blueprints!?” Sure, Jesus did send them out two by two at one point, perhaps even several points, but they were still struggling with cognitive dissonance, because so far nothing is turning out like they had imagined.
Jesus is just helping them to see that one day it will all make sense.
I don’t think Jesus was angry with them
Wait in Galilee & wait for the Holy Spirit
Much of what they learned is only theory to them
But there is another lesson to be learned in this passage.
The Joy of Resting in Jesus :8-14
They catch this ginormous load of fish after following up on Jesus’ suggestion and John, the ever perceptive one, recognizes that the man must be Jesus!
Not because he could see His face more clearly, but because his mind caught the lesson almost immediately.
John Recognizes Jesus’ voice immediately
1st time they caught fish, the net was breaking
This is time it didn’t!
Could this be a hint toward churches counting decisions when they ought to be counting disciples?
They were hungry - Jesus met their need
Let me point out also that before the resurrection, the fish they caught almost escaped because there were so many of them.
But after the resurrection, even though there was a large catch, John notes that the net didn’t even snap one cord!
I don’t know how big these fish were, but even at a pound each that would be 153 pounds.
That’s quite a bit of resistance as they tried to pull the catch in, especially in a floating craft.
Also, before the resurrection, Jesus helped them to catch fish when they couldn’t do it.
After the resurrection He did the same thing, but this time they were saved for good, all 153 of them!
I might be reading too much into this comparison between the two miraculous catches of fish, but I DO wonder if in the first instance they might have been able to count how many of them there were, but in the second one, they didn’t loose any.
Could this be a hint toward churches counting decisions when they ought to be counting disciples?
Let me say that again: Could this be a hint toward churches counting decisions when they ought to be counting disciples?
I further want to point out that they had fished all night, and I think it is a fair assumption that they were hungry.
Jesus greets them with what they needed, a great breakfast.
What THEY fished for all night long, Jesus already had prepared for them already; cooked and ready to eat.
How seemingly strange that John would add this firsthand observation:
First, He had to invite them to come eat.
Second, they seemed reticent to even hint that they were skeptical as to who He was.
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