"Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?' 'No,' they answered. 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." (John 21:4-6)
Everyone loves a good fish story. I, personally have several of my own, and for the most part, they are true. In our text today we discover the disciples fishing. It was all Peter's idea. "I'm going out to fish," Simon told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you.'" (John 21:3) It would appear that Peter was returning to what he knew best, fishing. Why? Was it because he just needed to get away and think about things? Did he need a vacation? I would suggest that Peter went fishing in order to make a living. Yes, Peter was reverting back to plan B. The stint with Jesus was over. Now, I know that in the previous chapter Peter and the gang encountered the living Christ. However, this chapter seems to imply that they have not yet seen the resurrected Jesus. So, what are they to do?
Well, in the story they are not getting any fish. All of a sudden some wise guy gives them instructions to cast on the other side of the boat. Now, the miracle in this story should be obvious; when they did as told they caught so many fish they couldn't haul the net in. But, I would propose that the miracle was, they listened to advice. I used to fish day and night when I was not working. I once even owned a bass boat. Then I got married. Enough said. LOL. I can tell you from experience that no fisherman (fisher person) wants anyone to think they need help catching fish. Nope! They are able to find the right spot, choose the right bait, etc., all based on their expertise. I refused to own a fish finder. But, the disciples listened.
Then, we discover something very interesting. "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. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish. Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.' Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many fish the net was not torn." (John 21: 7-8,10-11) First of all, for the life of me I can't fathom why Peter wrapped his garment around him and then jumped in the water. The other disciples haul the net toward shore. Remember, it was too heavy to pull in. But, all of a sudden Peter gets back into the boat. What does he then do? He, all alone, drags the net to the shore. Peter is physically able to do what the whole group could not do. Why? Well, let's give this some thought. But first... why the number 153? We have often looked at the significance of numbers in the Bible. Is this number significant? Well...yes, but, there is little agreement as to what the significance is. I have heard it suggested that the number represents all the nationalities on earth. Another possibility, and perhaps the most likeliest possibility, is that it represents the expansion of the church. Either way, we are told that the net held everyone of the fish. Now, let me remind you of the prayer of Jesus in John, chapter seventeen. In that prayer Jesus gave thanks for the fact that he didn't lose one of those entrusted to his care, "except the one destined to be lost." (John 17:12b, NRSV) So, I believe that the number, 153, is a number representing the church and all its peoples.
But, why was Peter able to physically drag the net when all the others together could not? Are you o.k. with me saying, "I don't know?" Well, I really don't know. But, it is sure fun speculating. Could it have been related to the fact that Peter jumped into the water after realizing that it was Jesus on the shore? There could have been something to that. Or, could it have been related to Jesus telling Peter that "you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church?" (Matthew 16:18a) Well, that's just something to think about. Tomorrow we will continue with this chapter.