There are so many great lessons in the story of the fishing expedition found at the end of John and so many applications for life. I think this is one of those stories that every time you read it, as you continue your walk in faith, more is uncovered and revealed. I’m going to touch on just a few that were particularly meaningful to me.
To not be frustrated in the ministry field. If we are believers in Jesus Christ we are all also missionaries whether near or far. As missionaries, it is very easy to face times when, to use the analogy of our lesion, the fish just aren’t biting. We are praying earnestly for people, we are living among the people, we are talking and sharing and making community with them, and… they aren’t changing. I know missionaries in foreign lands who spend years and may not have a single person that they can point to who they have witnessed being saved. It is easy to say, this is a dry lake, there just aren’t any fish here. Maybe I should give up. Maybe I should just move on. But, from the lesson today we see it is not us, we aren’t doing anything wrong. It is not the lake. It is not the fish. It is not the location. It is not any of these things. The water on one side of the boat is not any different than the water on the other side of the boat in the middle of a lake. The fish will come when the fish come. The believers will be saved, when they will be saved. Think how it would have been if the fishermen on the boat said, “we’ve already fished in that spot over a hundred times, we’re tired and coming ashore.” Instead, they threw out the net one more time and the harvest was more abundant than they could have imagined, yet no wear and tear at all on the nets.
Don’t get so absorbed in work that you miss the Lord. When the nets filled, the men on the boat got to work. It is no easy or quick task to haul in the nets. Only John recognized that they friend on the shore was the Lord. How often do I go through my days focused on my to-do list and inbox? I get heads down, going from thing to thing, sometimes even praying in the midst of it as I bet the fisherman were, (thank you Lord for this abundance and please help us not tear the nets). But in the process of my business and busy-ness, I completely miss Jesus standing there talking to me and waiting for me.
The image of Jesus may not be what you expect. There is a part of this whole recognizing Jesus, but not wanting to ask Him if He was Jesus, part of the story that is a little bit strange and confusing, but I think there is also a message in it to me. The Lord and the people He may be sending to me and teach me and to have me feed may not look like what my expectation of them is. Who I am, where I live, what I do impacts my viewpoint of what Jesus is going to look like in my day. But, if we learn anything from the bible, our perspectives and God’s perspectives are not normally the same. Jesus to me this day may be a blind man, He may be a man from another country who does not speak my language. He may be a rich man. He may be a poor man. He may be a woman and not a man. Race, politics, power, wealth, privilege. Whatever the idea I may have in my head of how Jesus is going to show up today in my life to have communion and build the body of the church is probably dead wrong. So, what should I do? See everyone I encounter the way Jesus sees them.
Be feed then love then minister. The biggest insight for me was that Jesus was waiting, with a fire, with food, for the disciples at the side of the lake, but they had to come to Him. It makes me wonder how many mornings go by that Jesus us waiting for me, fire built, food ready for fellowship and to feed my soul, but I rush right past Him because of all of the “more important” things on my to-do list for the day.
They disciples continued to hang out, Peter decided to go fishing and others followed. Fished all night but didn’t catch anything. Man calls from shore, they obey, John recognizes Jesus first, but Peter takes action first. Peter drags fish ashore (153). They eat together (still not really recognizing Jesus but having faith)
Appeared, waited, called to them, guided, through His actions and words allowed himself to be recognized, prepared a fire and food, accepted their food, fed them
Look for the Lord in my work, sit and eat with Him