According to verse 14, this is Jesus’ third appearance to his disciples – this time at the Sea/Lake of Tiberias/Galilee.
After his resurrection, Jesus had made at least 6 appearances in or around Jerusalem. After those, the disciples returned to Galilee. In this region, Jesus also appeared several times (to 500 brothers, to James’ brother, to 7 disciples – Peter, Didymus, Nathanael, sons of Zebedee, 2 others). First, he appeared in Jerusalem, then in Galilee.
Before his death, he told them that he’d meet them at an appointed place in Galilee, but they had remained in Jerusalem out of fear. So, he appeared to the in Jerusalem first to encourage them.
Think about the emotions of the previous few weeks. The Triumphal entry into Jerusalem as a king, the Last Supper with strange actions and words, the disappearance of Judas (one of them), the appearance of hundreds of soldiers in the Garden on that night, and all of them scattered, and Peter denied Christ three times, Jesus was crucified like a common criminal, then buried, then AMAZING resurrection. ALL of this happened over the course of just a FEW weeks.
What were they supposed to do?
They did return to Galilee, but they didn’t know what to do next. So they decided to return to their old jobs, their old lifestyles – fishing.
v. 1-3 They went fishing, but caught nothing.
Until 3 years ago, when they met Jesus, they were fishermen – and Jesus had called them and said, “I’ll make you fishers of men.”
Then when they met Christ, they were transformed from fishermen to fishers of men. Now, even in this short time, when they were far away from Jesus in spirit and in body, they returned to their old lives and occupations. Fishing is not bad, not sin. But spiritually, there are at least 2 important lessons.
#1 – Whatever your job was before you met Christ, you were a “fisherman/woman.”
NOW, after meeting Christ, you are a “fisher OF men/women.” So, when we were outside of Christ, our main target was STUFF – titles, TVs, praise, etc. NOW, IN Christ, our target is SOULS of men, spiritual beings.
There is a difference between the jobs (actions) of the two. Fishermen catch living things from the water, pull them out and kill them. Fishers of men catch dead spirits and pull them into Christ’s kingdom and he makes them alive forever.
#2 – We must be very careful not to return to our OLD selves and lives.
True, justification is once for all, eternal life can never be lost – the moment you accepted Jesus as personal Savior and Lord, we were saved from the penalty and punishment of sin. But, now as we are in these bodies, we are CONTINUALLY being saved (from temptation, sin, etc). Therefore, the Bible encourages us who are saved, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling (Paul’s letter to…) Be alert, be self-controlled, pray continually (Thess), do not give your enemy a foothold, for the enemy is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (Peter’s epistle?).
To continue walking with Christ, we must be focused. To fall into sin, it takes only a moment.
Illustration: To drive to Seoul safely, it takes 3 hours – continual focus and carefulness, but a car accident takes only a moment of carelessness.
Jesus is so faithful in keeping his promises.
He chose them (chose us).
The good news is, Jesus never criticized them for going fishing. They worked hard, all night, together, but the result = NOTHING. Their nets were empty.
Luke 5 – similar story – when they met Jesus for the first time, they experienced a similar experience. Jesus was standing on the shore (the same place, by the sea of Galilee). So many people were crowded around him listening to him, and Jesus noticed two boats around him, and got into Peter’s boat and asked him to set out from the shore. From there, he taught to the people on the shore. After that, he said to Simon Peter, put out your net into the deep water and catch something. Peter said, “All night we worked, and caught nothing, but because you said to, we will again.” They did, and the catch was so huge, that the nets began to break and they called the other boat. The two boats began to sink. Peter knelt down, “Oh, Lord, go away from me, I’m a sinful man.” (Christ is too holy, Peter is too unholy) Christ said, “Do not be afraid, from this time on you will catch men.” And they left everything and followed him.
Now, here there’s the similar story.
Jesus was not a fisherman, but they were PROS from that area, – they knew the best when, where, what, how in the Lake of Galilee, but their efforts produced nothing.
Have you ever experienced TOTAL FAILURE in your work, ministry, parenting, relationship, marriage? If you FAIL on your own, we can experience great SUCCESS in Jesus. If we feel EMPTY, he is ABUNDANT. If we are WEAK, he is SUPER-POWERFUL.
The condition is Absolute, Unconditional Obedience. This alone produces miracles.
The action of throwing nets into the water, on the right side of the boat was NOT what caused the blessing, but it was OBEDIENCE to Christ’s words that caused the blessing.
We can experience miracles like this as well if we obey Jesus – because we understand his words. If we do so because we think his words are reasonable, that’s not true (full of faith) obedience. We obey because of who He IS, not because of how reasonable His words sound.
(153 fish? What’s the significance? Some sort of secret spiritual thing? NO. It just provides evidence that this is an ACTUAL historical event)
First, to our sadness, they didn’t know that it was Jesus. They didn’t recognize him as Lord. We don’t know why, but we can guess. (Possibly because of the distance – 90m, or because of the lack of light, mist on the water, their strong concentration on fishing, doubt about Jesus resurrection, no expectation of his appearance there). At first, they didn’t recognize him.
How about us?
Sometimes, are you involved in some things that you think Jesus appearance or presence would be unlikely?
Jesus appeared to them at very unlikely times, in very unlikely places – while walking, in a locked room, morning, lunch, evening – in anything and everything they were doing.
The last verse in Matthew “Behold, I am always with you even to the very end of the age.”
Be honest before God now. In your daily steps and walking, when in your bed, bathroom, office, school, fights, do you feel, do you recognize Jesus appearance in that situation? Recognition of Jesus’ appearance as King of Kings, Lord of Lords – a realization of Jesus appearance = the Christian life in this world.
If you have no recognition of Jesus in your daily life (though you claim to be Christian) then you are a Practical Unbeliever.
At this time, the tired, frustrated, hungry disciples, needed encouragement and direction – so Jesus came to them and made his appearance known to them.
So Jesus provided them with everything that they needed.
- He provided a fire – they were cold from fishing all night on the sea.
- He provided food – they were hungry and tired.
- He provided a warm heart and welcome invitation – they were frustrated and discouraged.
Still now, Jesus is available and ready and prepared for us. He has a gracious and welcome invitation to us.
Sometimes, are you discouraged in your work (even ministry)? Jesus wants to provide to us sustenance and comfort and fellowship like this – He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He wants to provide peace, eternal life. Still now, He says, “Come to me, all who are burdened and heavy-laden…Peace I give to you, my peace I leave with you…”
Galatians “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. So do not be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
His job to appear to us and provide for us, and welcome us is still going on today.
May God bless us all with Jesus appearance.