How many of you ever been fishing before? If you have, how many of you liked it? Disliked it? When I was a young girl my dad would always take me on fishing trips with him. Almost every weekend me and my dad went fishing either to somebody’s pool or off the peer at a lake. I used to love going on those trips with my dad, because they were special to me, and the time was well spent. He had even bought me my very own little Snoopy reel to fish with. Those were good times, and God allowed nature to be at its best. It was very atmospheric, tranquil, and serene. The water was blue, and the grass was green. I knew we were going to catch fish, because my dad knew a whole lot about fishing. I watched him carefully, and took in everything that he had done. How he baited his hook, adjusted his weights, got his stance ready, and how he cast his line into the water. We would catch, as he would say, “a mess of fish.” Now, I am not saying that we did not have our fair share of run ins with the local wildlife. There were times we caught turtles trying to steal minnows off the hooks, numerous amounts of snakes scaring our potential catches away, and then a few instances when I almost tripped and fell in the water. So, in itself, fishing is an activity that requires a lot of patience, time, and effort. The disciples knew well of their jobs, because some of them were fishermen by trade. It was a fair trade, but it would be far more meaningful when Jesus said in Matthew 4:19, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Not just fishers of fish, but fishers of men. Being “fishers of men” is not just some sport you do to past time or a catch to throw back, but like fishing, this also requires time, patience, and effort. Just as the disciples had fished all those times with Jesus, I too, had fished with my dad. I watched and I learned from a great teacher. This was all in the process of receiving knowledge, understanding, and gaining wisdom…But, the tides change direction, and the times pass for things to come into season. The uncertainty of the unknown deters self-will from His will, and we go out in a high pursuit forgetting those things we had been taught.
21 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
We see here by the text that this Simon Peter; the very same Simon Peter who told Jesus he would not deny him, but did, the very same Simon Peter who cut off the soldier’s ear at Jesus’s arrest, (who told you to cut off his ear Peter) is the very same Simon Peter who decides to go fishing without the Master. I am not saying all of this to criticize Peter, but to only exemplify how we can be zealous for the things of God, but fail to realize that we STILL need Him with us in every part of our lives. Especially fishing! So again poor Peter takes leadership, and says, “I go a fishing.” Several things could have taken place here. Peter could have been perplexed about the things that had previously occurred with Jesus, or he just simply wanted to go fishing. The waiting may have had him feeling some sort of way. How many of you know that waiting can sometimes cause weary. We also see that Peter did not ask anybody to go with him, he did not seek anyone’s help, he did not even pray before he left; He just left, and the other disciples followed him. So they set out to fish; baiting their lines, and casting their nets. They toiled, and they toiled, and they toiled all through the night trying to catch some fish, but morning had come and they still caught nothing. This possibly caused them frustration, and aggravation. When we put our feelings on the forefront we bait our hooks with our dilemmas, our wills, our pride, our understandings, our wisdom, our judgments, our thoughts, our ways and then we try to “attract a catch” with our superficial knowledge, and self righteousness. We cannot catch anything that way. By putting ourselves forward we bring nothing but ourselves back. Our feelings and our circumstances can cause us to bait the hooks with our justifications, and in the end we did not catch the fish, because the futility of our work was in vain. Ecclesiastes 2:22 says, “For what hath man of all his labour, and the vexation of his heart, wherein he hath laboured under the sun?” We work extremely hard over something and achieve nothing. In the end we lose what we never gained. It is a service of self that willed barren results. But God! The One who cared enough about their catch, and asked them, “Children have ye any meat?” They answered Him no, not knowing that there very eyes had deceived them, and they knew not that it was Jesus! Jesus told the disciples that He would make them fishers of men, not fishers of fish. “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” The right side is symbolic of those who believe, (the sheep) and the left are for those who refuse salvation (the goats). Jesus said in Matthew 25:33 in the Parable of the Sheep and Goats, “And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.” The disciples obeyed this One stranger, and cast their nets to the right. The scripture said they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. My brothers and sisters we must remember what Jesus said in John 15:5, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” As soon as Jesus came to shore, they caught a multitude of fish. We have to remember to follow Jesus’s direction, and allow Him to teach us how to properly fish. We have to let Jesus pave the way, and clear the path. The gospel must fall on willing ears before it will be accepted. The Holy Spirit prepares the hearts to receive, and then when we, His messengers, bring the message in His way, a multitude will be saved.
John immediately recognized that the stranger was the risen Lord, for he had supernatural knowledge and power. Peter being zealous swam first to Jesus, and the others came along afterwards dragging in the net of fish. Each one of the disciples were given gifts that honored Christ. No need to worry what each servant is doing compared to others. We each have our own work in Jesus Christ. In that where God guides, He provides. When the Lord gives vision there is always provision. Jesus had already prepared for them before they made it to shore. They were given food to eat (fish, bread) and a place to sit and rest. Now catch this…“Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” Jesus wants us to bring Him the fish that we catch! Jesus says, “Be ye fishers of men”, not cleaners of sin! We catch’em, but we let Him clean’em! Although there were so many, and such great fishes, yet none were lost, nor damage was done to the net. Because the net of the gospel has enclosed multitudes and is stronger than ever to bring souls to God.
Isaiah 43:19, “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.” A new thing! Threatening voices which tell of an inexorable law of repetition, relentless working out of a foregone conclusion and appointed destiny. God can and will provide all that is needed. Preparation and guidance; these are the ideas involved in the promise to make a path. Difficulty, and peril; these are thoughts which associate themselves with the desert and wilderness. Jesus prepared breakfast for His disciples on the shore after they toiled in relentless efforts to catch fish. He provided them with His mercy and grace! One day we will look upon His face. He is the only way, the truth, and the light. He is the testator of the New Testament. He makes a way when it seems there is no way!