As we move further from that great day of Jesus’ resurrection, we look at an interesting event involving Jesus and some of the disciples. We read in John 21: 1-14 that the disciples are back home near the Sea of Galilee where it all began for them and they’re bored. They know Jesus has been brought back to life, but He has this frustrating habit of turning up in their midst and then disappearing.
Peter is the one to say, “let’s do what we have done most of our lives. Let’s go fish.” (Not to be confused with the only card game Pam knows how to play). And so seven of them set out in their boat to catch a serious quantity of fish. There’s a livelihood to be made in fish.
We’re told that they fished all night and caught nothing. As the night wore on, I can just imagine the frustration in the boat. Perhaps you have sat in a boat awaiting the exhilaration of catching a big one only to have to come home and pretend that it was worth it, being out on the water, even though nothing happened. Telling everyone about the one that got away.
As the dawn breaks there’s a guy standing on the beach stating the obvious. “You haven’t caught anything have you?” I can hear Peter making comments under his breath. Then the stranger says, “try fishing from the right side of the boat.” “What’s with this guy, right side, left side, it’s all the same” But it isn’t, when they try pulling in the net there are too many to haul into the boat and then John says. “It’s Jesus!”
Then Peter put on his clothes, because he was naked, and swam to shore. I’m not making this up. That’s what the Biblical record says. Peter was naked. Were all seven of them naked? That’s not an image we necessarily have to keep in our minds.
Peter leaves his buddies to do all the work of hauling to shore this load of fish that number 153. When they all gather around the Lord, He has a fire going and asks for some fish to prepare breakfast for these friends of His who have labored all night.
There are all sorts of theological discussions concerning the numerical count of 153 fish. Whatever we discuss, it’s all conjecture. But number of fish aside there are a couple lessons that we can gain from this story.
The first is to be attentive to what Jesus may be saying to us. It’s easy to write off as unimportant the words from a stranger on the shore about where we might find fish. Perhaps it’s easy at times to write off that voice we hear, telling us of a better way, as just a crazy thought that is easy to ignore. Perhaps those promptings are really the stranger on the shore, Jesus, giving us the guidance we need to help us get through a disappointing night of anxiety.
The other lesson comes from our understanding that God is the source of abundance for our world. When Jesus took the loaves and fish to feed 5000 and then 4000 there was an overabundance left after everyone had been fed.
At both of those events he took the bread, broke it, blessed it and gave it to the disciples for distribution. Here we read that he took the bread and then the fish and gave it to them.
Sounds very similar to His actions at the last supper. He took the bread, broke it, blessed it and gave it to his disciples. It’s like having confidence in the faithfulness of God to meet our needs out of the abundance of God’s grace and love.
Jesus told us to rely on our Heavenly Father for our most basic needs in this life. In that great concentration of Jesus’ teaching found in Matthew 5 through 7 He addressed the anxiety that can so easily overwhelm us, especially in this time of Covid-19. Jesus said to not be caught up in anxiety about the span of our lives, having the right clothes to wear or what’s for breakfast. All of our needs are in God’s care as are the birds of the air. True life is about coming to an understanding of the Father’s great concern for all of us and when we focus on this reality everything else will just fall into place.
Enjoy your next breakfast as a gift from Jesus and give thanks for the blessing that we enjoy out of His abundance.