After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (Jn 21:1-14)
“Although there were so many, the net was not torn.”
We come to the second ending of John. John summed up everything and had a perfectly good closing at the end of John 20. Then for some reason he decides to share a few more stories any way. There isn’t a lot of reason given for this, but it causes a lot of conjecture in commentaries.
The first such story John includes is the disciples fishing by the sea of Tiberias, and Jesus appearing to them. Jesus knew the disciples hadn’t caught any fish. The question is formed in such a way, at least in the Greek, that the expected answer is no. You kind of wonder why they were fishing.
Their friend has died and is risen. He has appeared to them a couple times. Never the less, all their expectations had been dashed. Everything they expected of the Messiah died on the cross. And had he really risen from the dead? I could imagine second guessing myself on that. I know I saw him yesterday? But did I? They perhaps don’t really know what to do. What is expected of them yet. Maybe now that Jesus has accomplished everything, maybe now they can go fishing. Return to what they did before, make a decent living doing that. They were all fishermen before. One expects they were good fishermen. But now this evening they are given a sign they can’t ignore. They haven’t caught anything. This isn’t the vocation that God wants them to pursue.
It works that way at times. I know it does for a lot of guys that go into the ministry. Perhaps they have a slight notion that that is what they should be doing. But for whatever reason they go try something else for a while. I think more people should try something else for a while if they are considering the ministry at all. But often they find it really isn’t meant to be. Maybe they lose their job. Maybe they do decent at it and make a good living, but just can’t seem to shake the desire to be a pastor, and others keep sending them that way. God manages to get his will done by hook or by crook.
He instructs the disciples to throw the net on the other side of the boat, the right side. “You will find some.” It’s all in God’s hands. Sometimes you work and work in an area and see so little of a result. You rejoice with angels a few times a year as sinners repent and are baptized. But the work is slow. Then things occur, morning is breaking and it’s time to just pack in the nets. Perhaps it could even seem as if it is time to give up the ministry and go back to whatever it was you tried before going to sem. But then God sends you another call. Throw your nets on the right side he says, you will find some. God knows where the fish are that need to be caught. He will send you to them. This is his work, you’re just his tool.
The disciples catch 153 of them. That’s awesome. The nets don’t break. The gospel is that way, it doesn’t matter how many are caught for the kingdom of God, the net doesn’t break. There is always room for more.