The lessons come thick and fast in the narrative, (John 21:1-15) and certainly an opening message is that Jesus often will encourage us to learn to fish in a new place. Clearly, the disciples could not have caught a thing if Jesus had not turned up. Even when Jesus called out to them, the turning point was obedience.
The story is an intriguing one.
The lake, like our lives, is teeming with life and promise and we often just cannot see it. We’ve all encountered barrenness, emptiness – nothing in our nets, and had to continue. And in some cases people are tired, the way these fishermen were tired after fishing all night. Some are tired of life, tired of trying. Nothing ever seems to happen for them. It happens for everybody else, but not for them. Their lives are empty and unfulfilled.
And yet, we live in earshot of the encouraging instruction of God. And if we follow the advice He gives, we will be surprised at what happens to us.
It’s amazing what obedience will bring.
Fishing all night without a single catch is challenging, but when Jesus says for you to cast your net on the other side, it may sound patronising and simple, but what if he’s right? What if there’s something tremendous and exciting down there merely waiting for you if you make a little adjustment in where you’re letting down your nets?
What if it’s only a matter of learning to fish in a new place – that is not that far away?
Life, like the lake, is filled with possibilities that are rich beyond all imagining. The lake is deep. It has far richer resources than we usually imagine. It is never completely fished out, not for any of us. We only need to learn to readjust, to let our nets down in a new area, to rediscover the riches.
And when we do, we pull up our nets full of fish again, then we suddenly realize the presence of God in our lives.
It is after the fishermen let down their nets on the right side and pull them in teeming with fish, that they suddenly recognize Christ on the shore and realize there is a connection between him and what has happened. “It is the Lord!” exclaims John. And then they can’t wait to get to shore and spend time with him.
It takes God to reveal God
Some of the most life changing and astonishing encounters are not far from us – but it takes God to reveal God, and Jesus is breathtakingly brilliant at doing just that. He does all things well! (Mark 7:37)
Have you spotted the connections in your life and ministry between obedience and your encounters with God?
It doesn’t really matter how many fish there are to be found suddenly in the net, what matters is that things have changed. Obedience breaks the status quo.
One challenge leads to another. Jesus would shortly ask Peter to bring the fish he had just caught and join him in a fish breakfast at the beach fire He already had burning. Peter for a moment will enjoy the meal, and then as Scripture reports, when they had finish eating will ask Peter the hardest question that he will ever face. (John 22:1) In the providence of God, the wonderful encounters we experience today, may lead us deeply into challenging, and life changing encounters shortly after.
But it all starts with obedience. Whatever He tells you, do it. (John 2:5)