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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 4 - Light Overcomes Darkness
B - The Resurrection and Appearance of Christ (John 20:1 - 21:25)
5. Jesus appears by the lake (John 21:1-25)

a) The miraculous catch of fishes (John 21:1-14)

JOHN 21:1-3
1 After these things, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I’m going fishing.” They told him, “We are also coming with you.” They immediately went out, and entered into the boat. That night, they caught nothing.

After his resurrection, Jesus enjoined his disciples to go to Galilee, their home district, adjoining Lake Tiberias. He, as the Good Shepherd, would precede them and meet them there, but his love for them meant that he appeared to them sooner, while they were in Jerusalem to calm their fears. This is when on Sunday evening after the Passover, he saluted them with Peace divine, and sent them to evangelize the world (Mark 16:7; Matthew 28:10).

So, did the disciples after his commission to catch men, respond to his command? Did the miracle of Resurrection change their thinking so that they hastened to evangelize the world with the message of eternal life? Sadly, no. They reverted to their old tasks and split up into groups, some alone, others in partnership of fishermen.

One evening, Peter set out to fish, saying to his friends, "I go a fishing." He left them to decide whether or not to follow. They joined him to the shore, embarked on a boat and rowed to the middle of the lake. They cast their net many times, exhausted all night long, but caught nothing. They forgot Jesus saying, "Without me, you can do nothing."

JOHN 21:4-6
4 But when day had already come, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn’t know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus therefore said to them, “Children, have you anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” They cast it therefore, and now they weren’t able to draw it in for the multitude of fish.

Jesus did not abandon his disciples, despite their wandering into byways. He stood by the shore awaiting their return. He could have thrown fish into their nets, but he wished to teach them that they could not act on impulse after his great victory, or revert to their ordinary tasks. They had agreed to a covenant with him; he was their partner, but they had forgotten him in the cares and problems of the day and behaved as if he were absent and distant.

He did not address his followers as apostles, but as children or youths. They had forgotten much of what he had told them, nor did they apply his injunctions. Despite this sorry behavior, Jesus humbly refrained from rebuking them, but asked them for some food. They had to confess that they had caught nothing, and that God had not been with them. In short they admitted their mistake.

As day was breaking, Jesus came to them; it was as if new hope was dawning on them. He did not say, "Never mind if you have failed", or "Try again, you may succeed." By a royal command, he said, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." Though they were not far into the lake, but near the shore, where big fish are rare, nevertheless, they heeded this suggestion and cast the net to the right.

Jesus saw the fish in the water, as today he knows where those who are longing for him are to be found. He will send you to such. He does not say, "Catch everyone in your net", but simply, "Cast your Gospel net in the place where I want you, and you will see the workings of my words."

The disciples obeyed this strange order, and yet did not quite recognize Jesus who seemed an ordinary person. Maybe he was just using a common salutation, but it had a confident tone. So they took courage and cast their nets, though exhausted, and behold, the nets were filled. There are spiritual guides sent by the Lord who fish where he sends them, and their nets are full of fish, so much that they are unable to carry the haul on their own. They need sincere colleagues to help them in love.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, forgive our concern with our livelihoods, more than our desire to win others for you. We thank you for coming to us, even when we have strayed. You lead us to confess our failure. Teach us to obey your word and lead us to those who seek you, and lead them into your Gospel net, that they may become your own for ever.


  1. Why was the abundant catch a cause for shame to the disciples?


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