“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.5 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.” John 21.4-7
What jumps out to be initially (besides Peter from the boat lol) is that Jesus allowed them to labor all night before showing up to provide a huge haul of fish. I mean, really, they fished all night. Why didn’t Jesus come right when they cast their nets into the water? Why wait until morning? Why withhold the catch so they did not catch one single fish until he arrived and told them to cast the net on the other side of the boat? And then he even had fish on the grill — that was just Jesus showing off!
So here we have five disciples and experienced fishermen. I bet they could not remember a night they came up empty. Weird. Certainly they would have caught something unless it was God withholding the fish. When Jesus comes to them, and they fail to recognize that it is Jesus, he says, “Friends, haven’t you (caught) any fish?” Just the question five prideful men want to hear from a stranger on the beach.
Then Jesus instructs them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. They do so and “were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” Then it was John, the disciple whom Jesus loved (and the author of this book) who told Peter — “It is the Lord!” The very minute Peter heard him say these words he wrapped his clothing around himself and jumped into the water,” assumingely so he could get to Jesus faster than a boat with a net full of a ton of fish.
The lessons from this story are many. Could it be that fishing (doing ministry) without Jesus is fruitless? Do we see this today in dying churches where the gospel is not preached or compromised? Or, could it be that the all night struggle of fishing/laboring without any production makes us turn to and rely upon God for the results? Or, could these men who were never suppose to return to fishing for fish but for people are drawn back to their real purpose and calling?
I think the answer is “yes” to all the above. The truth is, things are always better with Jesus. Whether it’s ministry, business, family or friends, invite Jesus to come with you. Follow him as you go and call upon him regardless of the situation. Jesus’ was reinstating his disciples and he does the same for us. It’s only with Jesus that we will find meaning and purpose to this life as we know it.
“O Lord God, it’s one of my favorite stories! Seeing the disciples struggle all night, doing that which they had done hundreds of times. But without you, they came up empty. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill us with your power and might. Help us capture a sense of your essence and know the truth of your love. Keep us on the path to righteousness that we might be all that you have called and created us to be. For you are good and your love endures forever. Amen”