Going Fishing with Jesus

By | 31st August 2020

Simon Peter climbed aboard and helped drag the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ John 21: 11-12a.

Fishing in the Sea of Galilee was a bit hit and miss. The stories we read in the Bible suggest that Peter and the rest of the team only caught anything when Jesus was there to help. In fact, these men were skilled at their job. They, and many others, made their living from fishing this lake, a lake estimated to have 30 fishing towns around it; one of which was Bethsaida, meaning ‘a place of nets,’ or ‘fishery’ and was the home of Peter, Andrew and Philip.

Although big business, it carried little prestige. Fishing was considered a lowly task, a job for the peasants. It was hard work, dangerous, had an uncertain return, and meagre profits. Yet Jesus chose these men to be his first disciples and to go and make disciples of all nations; and used numerous examples from their profession in his teaching e.g. ‘the parable of the net,’ (Matt 13: 47ff.).

After the death and resurrection of Jesus, but before his ascension, seven disciples went out to fish. This is what they knew and likely offered a sense of security in an uncertain time. Although out all night they caught nothing. I know how they feel! I can imagine they might have been quite grumpy come the morning; no sleep and no fish is not a happy combination. Then someone came along and shouted instructions from the shore to ‘cast their net over the other side of the boat.’ Immediately the net was full. Not just full, but full of large fish.

This is how it is with Jesus. If we obey his commands, we can enjoy his abundance. The abundance of fish causes John to recognise Jesus, and in the excitement of this revelation Peter jumps from the boat to go ashore to be with him.

We do not know how Peter greeted Jesus, but we are told he returned to help bring the net ashore; a net full of 153 large fish. Somebody counted them! The net too did not break despite the heavy load it was bearing. There is a lot of fine detail in this story. What is the relevance of the number of fish? It seems a large number that the net would not ordinarily hold. Jesus did not need the fish; he already had some.

This is another example of Jesus teaching the disciples through what is familiar. Thinking back to the parable of the net: ‘Once again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was let down into the lake and caught all kinds of fish. When it was full, the fisherman pulled it up on the shore. Then they sat down and collected the good fish in baskets but threw the bad away.’ (Matt 13: 47-48). Is this what Jesus was showing them, their future work? Casting the net of the kingdom of heaven by taking the good news to the nations.

Then there is the invitation to breakfast. Jesus had already prepared food for them to eat. He took bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish. It was yet another reminder to the disciples of teaching they had received

Jesus continues to speak to us through the everyday things we do: the household chores, our work, hobbies, and interests. He is there in every area of our lives so let’s ask Jesus every day to reveal himself to us, we don’t want to miss any opportunity to hear his voice and receive his teaching.

Assistant Chaplin