Monday, April 27, 2015
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 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. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Our scripture for this week finds us as spectators on the beach, at the Sea of Tiberius. That's the Roman name for the Sea of Galilee.
As we look out onto the Sea, we see a fishing boat, and seven men in it. They appear to be very quiet, as if they are sad or depressed. We can't see any fish in the boat, and in fact, the boat is sitting very high in the water, so it appears they have been unsuccessful all night as they tried to catch fish.
Of course, we know what another spectator might not know -- these men are some of the disciples of Jesus Christ . . . they are depressed and moody because they have just experienced horrific events that led to, and ended in, the death of their Master. So they've come back here to Galilee, to what they know best. They need to make a living, so they have spent the entire night out on the lake.
Early the next morning they give up their futile efforts, and turn for shore. Mornings can be foggy, with so much moisture hanging in the air that voices and appearances are difficult to recognize. A voice calls to them and asks them if they have any fish. It's probably embarrassing to do so, but they call back and admit they have not one fish.
Then the voice calls back: "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some."
They've been fishing all night. The nets are still in the water, over on the left side of the boat -- nothing is happening there. They have fished all their lives, and a stranger is telling them to simply put the nets on the other side?
Maybe they were so tired that they simply obeyed. Maybe in their sadness, it somehow made sense to them. Whatever the reason, they take out the nets and throw them into the water on the right side of the boat. Verse 6 says:
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.
We can imagine that they were stunned! It suddenly dawned on them Who has been calling to them from the shore. The disciple whom Jesus loves tells Peter, "It is the Lord!"
There are two reasons why they recognized it was Jesus -- first, because no one else could do this kind of miracle. The other reason was that it had happened before!
One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, with the
people crowding around him and listening to the word of God, he
saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who
were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging
to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down
and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he
said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.’
Simon answered, ‘Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t
caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.’ When
they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets
began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come
and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began
to sink. (Luke 5:1-7)
Jesus' relationship with the disciples starts and finishes with a miraculous haul of fish. They meet Him first, and then meet Him again in those miracles. There are so many lessons to be learned here. We'll study them this week.