Drawing near the conclusion of Jesus’ ministry on Earth, the Lord came to His disciples again to further prove He was indeed resurrected and alive in the flesh.
Jesus had previously appeared to His disciples in closed rooms, but on this day, He would pay them a surprise visit when and where they least expected Him.
“1 After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together.” (John 21:1-2)
An alternate name for the Sea of Galilee, the Sea of Tiberias is a body of fresh water located approximately 60 miles north of Jerusalem where fishermen thrived during the days of Jesus’ ministry. And after Jesus died, a number of His disciples returned to their livelihood along the freshwater lake.
Among the men were Peter who was Jesus’ chosen leader of His ministry, His “rock”, Thomas the Twin whose real name was Judas, Nathanael whom very little is known, both James and John, the author of this gospel as well as two other followers of the Christ who are not mentioned. It’s safe to deduct both disciples were also into fishing since they all eventually got into a boat.
“3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are going with you also.” They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.” (John 21:3-4)
Peter was a fisherman by trade and after Jesus died, he returned to his home in Bethsaida in Galilee. Here, Peter was simply going about his business of catching fish along with a few more followers of Christ, but their overnight attempt was unsuccessful. When daylight came, and very unsuspectingly so, Jesus appeared on the shore of the Sea where the disciples were fishing. After spending the night on a lake and not catching any fish, it is no surprise they did not recognize Jesus at first.
“5 Then Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any food?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish.” (John 21:5-6)
By calling them children, Jesus made it rather obvious who He was but the men did not recognize Him, perhaps they imagined he was someone interested in buying fish but they had none to sell or give away until God instructed them where to cast their net.
And when they obeyed the Lord, their harvest was more plentiful then they could handle. When this happened, the men knew something strange was going on…
“7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment (for he had removed it), and plunged into the sea.” (John 21:7)
Here, John reveals that it was him who first recognized Jesus, but it was Peter who went after him despite the face he had to jump into the water and swim 100 yards to Christ who stood along the shore.
“8 But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from land, but about two hundred cubits), dragging the net with fish. 9 Then, as soon as they had come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have just caught.”” (John 21:8-10)
After Peter jumped into the water to get to Jesus, the other disciples used the skiff to get to shore. Skiffs are small row boats designed to carry people, gear or food for short distances such as in this instant, but far too small to host all the disciples, their fishing gear and their catch if their outing was successful.
Here, the disciples rowed to shore as they pulled the miraculous catch in their net. Although Jesus already had fish and bread for the men, and HE could have fed thousands of people as HE did before, He called on them to bring some of their own catch to share in a morning meal prepared by God himself.
“11 Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.” (John 21:11)
Peter was a fisherman by trade and he was not about to lose a week’s worth of wages by letting the fish get away or worse, die of asphyxiation in the net under water which would spoil the fish and completely ruin their hopes of a reward for their efforts.
With more fish brought to shore than the net could normally handle, there was no doubt God had His hand in this morning breakfast.
“12 Jesus said to them, “Come and eat breakfast.” Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?”—knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then came and took the bread and gave it to them, and likewise the fish.” (John 21:12-13)
Did Jesus take on another body so His disciples could not possibly recognize Him? Were they not so accustomed to His voice that in this instance, each one would have immediately known He was the One who had been with them all along?
The fact is, John tells us his account of the miracle, or at the very least, the breakfast Jesus prepared for him and the other fishermen on the boat. And from their vantage point, they could not tell it was Jesus who was soliciting them for fish over a football field away from the seashore.
Think about this for just a second. You’re standing at the end of a football field and you shout out to another person on the complete other end of the field, some 100 yards away, and ask if they have any fish… Good luck getting heard at all!
“14 This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.” (John 21:14)
Although no one does have a precise account of the number of times Jesus chose to reveal Himself to the living after He rose form he dead, John tells us about the third instance in which he found Himself in the presence of God in the flesh. John knew the number of fish in the net, pretty obvious someone was there counting with Peter…
Jesus was captured and tortured, hung on a cross where He died, then rose from the dead to walk among those who chose to believe based on personal contact post resurrection. But here, the Lord chose breakfast by the sea to reinforce His deity and stoke His disciples’ fire so each one would be ready for the work ahead.
Are you a fisherman or a woman after God’s heart on a mission to drive fish to Jesus? I invite you to click HERE to reach out to me so we can get together in a virtual meeting and further explore ministry opportunities as fishers of men and women, for God’s glory! Let’s pray…
We thank you for your blessings in our lives,
We praise you Lord for the wisdom found through the gospel of John,
We ask you Lord to inspire us to live out the apostle’s writings
As we continue to learn more about you through your word.
Lord we ask you to strengthen us each day as we endure through battles,
Allow us to praise and love each other through faith in you Jesus,
Shield us from evil through the truth, the gospel, salvation and prayer,
Guide us to abide by your word as we spread your gospel to one and all
Becoming examples of Christian faith through our character as we walk the narrow path.
God we pray that you will continue to bless us, to bless our lives and fill us with hope
We ask you Lord to guide our footsteps and lead us to the way everlasting,
Through faith in you Lord we seek salvation and our place with you in Heaven
According to your ways, your everlasting wisdom and strength.
May your will be done
In our lives, for your life.
We thank you for your love and all you bless us with each day.
This message was written by Daniel St.Pierre