The catch

John 21: 3 – 6

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We are also coming with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish to eat, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find the fish.” So they cast it, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great quantity of fish.

The back story is that as far as the disciples were concerned Jesus was dead and this whole revival was a washout. Even if they believed he had arisen, they didn’t know what that meant for them. What were they to do now that the Lord was gone? So, they reverted back to what they knew. They went fishing. Fishing is what they did before they met Jesus.

The disciples fished all night and caught nothing. How exasperating that must have been. They went back to what they knew and failed miserably. The next morning as they were returning to shore, they encountered Jesus standing on the beach. They didn’t know who it was though. He called out to them telling them to cast their net on the right-hand side of the boat. Amazingly, they did as he said which resulted in a great catch.

Imagine their situation though. These fellows knew how to fish. It was their area of expertise. Here they were returning with an empty boat after a long night of fishing. What would your reaction have been if some joker on the shore who probably got a good night’s sleep told you to cast your nets yet again and specifically to cast them on a particular side of the boat? I mean who is this guy and why is he getting in their business?

As you see, they did comply, and the quantity of fish was so great that they couldn’t even haul it aboard. They had to drag the net to the shore. As soon as John saw the enormous catch he said, “It is the Lord!” (v. 7). John knew the blessing of the Lord when he saw it. He knew that catch was the manifestation of Jesus on the scene, so he knew at once who the man on the shore had to be.

What a tremendous story this is, but it also teaches us something. It represents doing things our way versus doing life according to Jesus’ instructions. I will tell you plainly, I am like the disciples. Let’s just figure out what to do and get on with it. However, if we will wait on the Lord and inquire of him, we will receive a tremendous haul rather than having to wash a bunch of nets which netted us nothing. How much energy do we throw at something only to get minimal or even no results? If we would but check in with Jesus first, we can be eating fish instead of washing empty nets.

It also seems that when we do business, ministry, or whatever according to Jesus’ leading and instructions, we get more done in less time. Those boys could have saved themselves a whole night of fishing. One gets the sense from this passage that as soon as they let down their net according to Jesus’ instructions, they immediately took in a great haul. Whatsmore, they did not have to let down their nets multiple times. Just one cast got them a catch so large that they could barely tow it to shore.

So, what sounds better to you, toil or results? Here is what I am saying to myself. Get up in the morning and read my Bible and pray first. Check in with Jesus about the day and let him guide my steps and work. Frankly, my plate is full enough that I don’t need to waste my time on useless enterprises. Jesus, just tell me what to do that I may bear fruit! Now, what do you say?