John 21:1-14: Wondering, Worshiping, and at Peace
December 24, 2021
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Again Jesus reveals himself (21:1). This time his disciples are going fishing (21:3). There is no suggestion in the text that they have abandoned their vocation by going back to the fishing business and moving away from the apostle calling. They are simply going fishing. They have already met Jesus. But they have not yet received their commission.
And Peter—forward as ever—leads the way for a spot of their favorite pastime activity, as well as means of sustenance: fishing. They catch nothing (21:3). They’ve fished all night, and dawn is breaking. Jesus “stood on the shore” (21:4). They do not recognize him. He tells them to cast the net on the right side (21:6). And when they do so, they catch so many fish that they cannot bring the whole catch in.
Fishermen knew a miracle related to fishing when they saw one, and this was that miracle. John (“the disciple whom Jesus loved”) says to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (21:7). And Peter puts back on his outer garment and swims for shore! It is quite a swim: a hundred yards (21:8). When they all arrive, they find that Jesus has built a fire, with fish already cooking on it, and bread (21:9).
Peter—is there a sense that he was muscular: a hundred-yard swim, and then he goes back to help the others bring in this enormous catch of fish (21:11)? They bring to Jesus some of the fish they had caught. And they count the fish: 153 in total. Not a symbolic number, but the kind of detail that a fisherman would make sure was recorded. 153! And they sit down and they have breakfast with him (21:12).
Breakfast with Jesus! Can you smell the charcoal fire, the fish sizzling, and see the astonished beaming looks on the stunned faces of the disciples? No one asks, “Who are you?” for they all know it is Jesus.
Many applications have been drawn from this story over the years. If you are not successful in one area, try “letting down your nets on the other side.” But, no doubt, the main lessons we are meant to draw from it are twofold.
One, Jesus really did rise from the dead. This was no temporary resuscitation. Here he was, some time later, cooking and eating fish.
Two, Jesus is the kind of Lord that you can sit with over breakfast. What a different picture of God this is than that of the fiery Zeus or the vain Odin. Jesus, with his disciples, sitting, eating—and they with him, wondering, worshiping, and at peace.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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