Jesus teaches us to go and “fish.”
After Jesus’ death on the Cross, His disciples lost hope. They had believed Jesus was the Messiah, the “anointed one,” the expected deliverer of the Jewish people.
What they witnessed was not the crowning of a king but the slaughter of their anticipated future. Simon Peter, the first disciple Jesus had called to follow Him, went back to fishing (John 21:3) and some of the other disciples followed him. However, they were not successful. They caught nothing when they diverted to their old ways.
While they were out in the boat on the Sea of Galilee, the resurrected Jesus stood on shore. At first, the disciples did not recognize this figure who noted their lack of a catch and suggested they throw their net over the right side (John 21:6). After they followed His instruction, the disciples caught such a haul (153 large fish) they were unable to pull the net into their boat.
As soon as Peter understood this was Jesus, he wrapped his outer garment around himself and jumped from the boat and into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat. There on shore Jesus had a fire going with His own fish and some bread, but Jesus invited them to also bring some of their fish.
When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these [the fish]?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15
Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16
The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. John 21:17
Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection twice before, yet the disciples were still fishing for “fish.” They were not out fishing for men. So Jesus uses the situation to reaffirm to the disciples they should be out sharing and doing for others what Jesus taught them. Not reverting back to their old lives. They should be bringing more people into the knowledge of the kingdom of Christ.
Jesus stated to Peter, if he really loved Him (and Peter confirmed “Yes,Lord”) then he should minister to the people (sheep) of this world. The people Jesus left in the disciples’ care. Jesus wants the disciples to tend to other people’s needs. Show His sheep the love Jesus showed the disciples. Jesus wants the disciples to follow Him in His death the same way they followed Him during His life on earth; by loving on those that God created.
This story shares with us that we Christians are to do the same. Once we come to know Jesus and His love for us, we are to leave our old selves and minister to others. We are to share and do for others the love Jesus did for us, thus spreading His kingdom.
I have to admit I’m not always good at this task. I tend to be more like Peter. Thinking I can do on my own, forgetting it’s really Jesus that leads me. So if you also are like Peter was, ask God right now for a better understanding of how you can best go and “fish” for men.
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