May 7, 2011
John 21:5, Page 1697
“So Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No.'”
The Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus
“Breakfast with Jesus on the Beach”
I love to fish, and I grew up fishing frequently. I almost always fished in the ocean and I often castnet small fish to use as bait to catch large fish. At times, my castnet would be so full of fish I was amazed. But most often, my cast yielded few, if any, fish. I found out it really mattered where you cast the net. You had to cast where the fish were, even if you could not see them. Jesus called at least four fishermen to be his disciples: Simon Peter and his brother Andrew (Matthew 4:18, page 1505-1506) and James his brother John, sons of Zebedee (Matthew 4:21, page 1506). Jesus helped them catch a lot of fish one day.
They Caught Nothing. After Jesus had appeared to the disciples in Jerusalem, Peter and some of the disciples decided to go fishing in the Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias (John 21:1-3, page 1697). They fished all night and caught nothing. I loved to fish all night at Sebastian Inlet in Florida. I did not fish for food, but for fun. I released virtually all the fish I caught. Even if fishing was slow sometimes, I really liked being at the inlet, seeing the stars and waves, and watching the water run through the inlet that connected the Indian River with the Atlantic Ocean. I have many great memories of fishing. Peter, Andrew, James and John were all trained fishermen, and they knew about fishing. Yet, they caught nothing. They were about to get one of the best fishing memories of their entire lives from Jesus.
Jesus Stood on the Beach. When the day was breaking, and the men had been fishing all night, Jesus stood on the beach. When I do park ministry just about every day, I watch people on the beach, and they can easily see people out in the waves. Although the disciples could see Jesus, they did not recognize Jesus. Jesus called out to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” Jesus does need to possess supernatural knowledge at this point to know they had caught nothing, although He certainly knew all things as God. He could have seen the guys struggling all night and catching nothing. Furthermore, sounds carry very well over water. Notice too that Jesus called them “children.” They were grown men, but now Jesus emphasizes a fatherly and family quality with them. I love to see the different ways that Jesus addressed His disciples, because those titles describe different aspects of His love for them. The disciples answered the question of Jesus with one word: “No” (John 21:5, page 1697). They had caught nothing, all night. Notice the approach of Jesus here. He did not immediately identify Himself to them, but rather focused their attention upon their own fruitless efforts. He did not walk upon the water to see them, but rather stood on the beach and merely called a question to them. His question anticipated a negative answer. It implies He knew all along they had worked hard for nothing. Sometimes we can work really hard for no return. In this case, Jesus wanted them to know more about the resurrected Christ. Things will always improve when we start listening to Jesus, and start doing whatever He tells us to do.
Cast the Net. If you had been fishing all night, and someone on shore told you to cast again, would you? What if that person on shore told you that you would catch many fish? What if Jesus told you to cast the net and you would catch many fish? Well, Jesus gave the disciples very specific directions on where to cast the net–the right side of the boat. The disciples cast the net there, and they caught fish, lots of fish, more fish than they could handle in their nets (John 21:6, page 1697). When we learn to follow the directions of Jesus, and do what He tells us, we reap great rewards. We will have more fish in our nets than we know what to do with.
It Is the Lord. The disciple whom Jesus loved, believed to be John, told Peter that it was the Lord. Peter threw himself into the sea, because he had been stripped for work (John 21:7, page 1697). Notice here the modesty of Peter, and by implication the other disciples. They respected and honored the Lord Jesus, and did not want to be partially clothed before Him. Notice again how Jesus approached the disciples. He supernaturally prophesied they would catch many fish when they cast their net, and they did. He did not identify Himself directly, but through the sign of the fish in the net. They heard His voice, but did not immediately recognize Him.
The Other Disciples Came. With the net full of fish, the other disciples in another boat came and helped drag the net to land. They did not have far to go, but only about a hundred yards (John 21:8, page 1697). We see here that disciples needed other disciples to haul in all the fish Jesus provided. Jesus will always expect teamwork from His disciples, both in our spiritual lives and in our physical help for one another, which of course relates directly to our spiritual lives. When you have a load of fish from Jesus, do not hesitate to call other disciples to help you with them.
The Charcoal Fire with Fish and Bread. When the disciples came to shore with their catch, they found a charcoal fire with fish and bread laid upon it (John 21:9, page 1697). We should notice carefully the different lessons Jesus teaches the disciples here. First, we see that Jesus directed their fishing efforts and provided a net full of fish when they followed His command. Second, we see that He did not need their fishing efforts to provide a meal for all of them, because He already had His own fish and bread on the fire, waiting for them. Third, we see the honor and respect they have for Jesus. Fourth, although Jesus provided a great catch of fish, He still intended for them to learn to follow His leading, and rely upon Him alone to provide all they will ever need in life.
Bring Some of the Fish You Have Now Caught. Jesus had His fish, but also wanted some of their fish (John 21:10, page 1697). Jesus perhaps wanted them to know that He could use His fish and their fish too. He also wanted them to know just how many fish He had provided to them. When Peter unloaded the net, he found 153 large fish, and the net was not torn. Not only had Jesus provided food for them, he had kept their nets from breaking (remember the work of Zebedee, Matthew 4:21, page 1506).
Come and Have Breakfast. Jesus always feeds us everyday. The Psalmist says: “The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time. You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:16, page 998). Here, Jesus invites the disciples to have breakfast He provided just for them. They must have been tired and hungry from fishing all night, and from struggling with the large catch of fish, and dragging it to shore. Jesus always loves to provide food for all of us (Matthew 6:25-27, page 1510). No one questioned that it was Jesus with them on the beach that morning, for they all knew it was the Lord (John 21:12, page 1697). Jesus took the bread and gave it them, and the fish likewise (John 21:13, page 1697). This picture of Jesus giving would remain in their minds, and be recorded in Scripture for our edification thousands of years later. God determined in eternity past to present this portrait of love, knowledge, provision, and fellowship for all of us to read, remember and apply in our lives. Imagine spending time over breakfast with Jesus after a night of fishing. Jesus not only provides everything for us, He also provides an abundance so that we will have enough for every good work (2 Corinthians 9:6-9, page 1813–the purpose of hard work).
The Third Time Jesus Manifested Himself. Jesus manifested Himself. I love this word “manifested” because it tells me that Jesus appeared deliberately before the disciples. Remember, He previously appeared in their presence in the middle of the room, after the doors had been locked. Now, He appears to them on the beach outside. Actually, He emphasizes that He “manifested” Himself to them. Jesus manifested Himself then, and He did so to increase their faith in Him. I look forward to the day when we see Him up close and personal (1 Corinthians 13:12, page 1798).
So we learn more about the Post-Resurrection Ministry of Jesus.
● Jesus loves to manifest Himself in our lives in various ways, but they always testify of His love and presence with us.
● Jesus loves to feed us, and convince us that He desires to fellowship with us as we go through each day of our lives.
● Jesus encourages team efforts, and we need to work together and be knit together in love. As a team-building exercise, Jesus loves miraculous fishing and beach breakfast with His men.
Application for Today
Today I will feel the presence of the Lord Jesus in my life, and in the lives of my friends in Christ. We will see Jesus in the way He provides (a) abundant food for us, (b) abundant love for each other, and (c) abundant work that requires a team effort. He will be with me today, and always. Will you see Jesus feeding you and loving you today?