After the Resurrection, Jesus sent word for the disciples to meet up with Him in Galilee.
In One Perfect Life, John MacArthur comments that word of this meeting spread and that is why 500 gathered to see and hear Jesus (1 Cor 15) after the Resurrection. MacArthur believes this gathering was on the mountain where Jesus gave the Great Commission.
But before this, maybe because the disciples were back in Galilee wondering when they would see Jesus again, Simon Peter resorted to what was most familiar for him and took the others fishing with him.
This event looks and feels very similar to the event in Luke 5 near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. (Much like the two accounts that bookend Jesus’ ministry of Him chasing the money changers out from the temple,.)
In Luke 5, Jesus climbed in Peter’s boat after a night of fishing. Peter had caught nothing. Jesus told him to cast his net again. After heeding Jesus’ advice, the catch was so large, both his and his partner’s boats were threatened with sinking. Then Jesus told Peter, “From now on you will catch men!”
Then in John 21, we read that again the disciples had caught nothing. Jesus called out from the shore and told them to cast their net on the other side. Just like earlier, their nets were full. It’s a large catch. 153 fish.
Why the specific number? It certainly tells us that the writer, knowing a minute detail like this, was likely an eyewitness to the event. A ministry friend has told me that at that time in history, there were 153 nations on the earth, so the catch represented to gospel going to the ends of the earth. I love that! (I’ve not been able to verify it though)
While back on shore after the miraculous catch of fish, Jesus asked Peter 3 times (mirroring his 3 denials), “Do you love me?” Each time when Peter said “yes,” Jesus told him to “feed my sheep” or “feed my lambs.”
Just like the call in Luke 5 to “fish for men,” here Jesus was re-confirming Peter’s call to lead the church.
Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” What does “more than these” mean? Could Jesus be pointing to the pile of fish he’s just caught, and this is Jesus way of asking, “Peter, are you going to go back to what is comfortable, fishing, or are you going to finish what we’ve started and live out your call?”
A few simple reminders on evangelism from Luke 5 and John 21…
- We can fish for a long time, catch nothing, and be ready to lay down our nets. Don’t give up!
- We’re more effective fishing when we listen to Jesus. God’s Spirit will lead us to whom we should speak to, when we should speak, and what we should say.
- Sometimes the time, place and circumstances don’t make sense, but Jesus says it’s time to drop our nets. Just listen!
- Sometimes successful evangelism is as simple as going to the “other side of the boat” and being willing to try something different.
- There is the potential for incredible fruit (nets breaking, boats sinking, 153 large fish) when we follow Jesus. “The Harvest is Great!”
I want to be faithful to His call on my life. I want to trust Jesus to fill the nets and overflow the boats in my life and ministry!
To learn more about Walking As Jesus Walked and Discipling As Jesus Discipled, visit: SONLIFE.COM