My favorite gospel out of the four is the gospel of John. This book was my anchor throughout the beginning of my walk with God. Even to this day I constantly stay in the gospel of John, reading one chapter a day, even when I study and read the other books of the Bible.
Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite sections in this book, though. It’s in the last chapter when Jesus appeared for the third time to the seven disciples. And no, it is not on the popular topic of Jesus commissioning Peter.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged 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." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. - John 21:4-12
There are several reasons why I love these verses. First, Jesus stayed anonymous like when he talked with the two disciples walking down the road asking them what events happened recently; or when he talked to Mary at the tomb, when she thought he was the gardener. The second thing I love is Peter’s reaction to hearing the words, “It is the Lord!” And the last thing I just absolutely love is that there were 153 fish.
All of Jesus’ disciples thought he was dead. They were so full of grief that they weren’t expecting to see Jesus. So, what does Jesus do? He becomes playful in my eyes. What better way to be like, “Hey guys it’s me, I am back!” than to recreate the miraculous catch that he did when he first met them and anonymously at that! One of my favorite books goes into deeper detail on this topic of Jesus being playful. I highly recommend it, especially if you want to deepen your relationship with God. It’s called, “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge.
Once John realized who it was that helped them catch so many fish, he exclaimed, “It is the Lord!” And Peter, Peter, the one who denied Jesus three times, wrapped his outer garment around himself to jump into the water just to get to Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I often become hesitant in approaching our Lord, especially when I have realized I have done wrong. But not Peter. I like to think that Peter knew that Jesus wouldn’t turn him away or hold a grudge. Peter was just too excited to know that Jesus was alive.
We need to obtain that. Always willingly go to the Lord. Don’t let the enemy lie to you. If you are scared to approach God because you believe he won’t forgive you, refute the enemy. Do not believe the lies, “God doesn’t love you”, “God doesn’t forgive you”, “God will turn you away”, “You’re all alone”, “It’s hopeless, things won’t get better.” Believe me, these lies will tear you apart. Trust me, I know! It has kept me from jumping into the water just to get to Jesus as Peter did.
Peter knew Jesus loved him, that Jesus died for him. Nothing is impossible for God. He loves you. Jesus died for you. God will always forgive a genuinely repentant heart. He forgives you. His arms are wide open waiting to receive you. He is an arm’s length away from you. He’s waiting by a fireside with some fish and bread cooking to have a meal with you. He’s prepared the fattened calf ready to have a feast with you, waiting for you to come. You are not alone. Reach out to Him, grab onto him. He will show you the truth. You are His. He will help you. He’s got a plan for you.
Upon reaching the shore, Jesus told the disciples to bring him some fish they hauled in so that there would be plenty of food for everyone. I love the fact that we know the exact number of fish the disciples caught in the net. What other way would we have known if it wasn’t that they counted the fish? Can you imagine?
Jesus said, "Guys, bring some of those fishes over here so that I can cook it up for us to eat." "Okay!", Peter says excitedly jumping onto the boat to help his friends pull the net ashore. "But wait! How many fish did Jesus help us catch?" exclaimed one of the other disciples. "Let's count them!" said all the disciples in unison. "That's fine by me," says Jesus with a chuckle, "I love spending time with you guys."
Why does it even matter to know the number of fish the disciples caught? The answer, I believe, is how the time was spent. Jesus loves spending time with his disciples. He loves spending time with you. Counting the fish would mean an even longer time spent on that shore with Jesus.
How often is God placed on your back burner because there is just too much to do and you don’t have time? Have you ever shortened your prayers to save time? How about pushing off reading your Bible until later because you just don’t have time right now. Have you done that? Maybe some days you don’t even pray or read your Bible? Here is the thing with that though.
All we have is time, it’s just how we use it.
At this moment, as you are reading this, you’re not busy. You are never busy. Sure, you have things to do. But here in this moment… nope. Even when you are doing things, you’re not busy. Not for priorities. Where do your priorities lie? Is God first? Even when you are working, you can pray. I know the disciples didn’t stay quiet counting those fish. They talked with Jesus.
Maybe you should count the fish too. Can you do me a favor? After you are done reading this, go into a quiet room, even if it must be a bathroom. It doesn’t matter. But upon entering, sit down and talk to God. Take your time. You can talk about anything at all! And if you don’t know what to talk about, sitting with God works too. God will bring a topic up. Maybe he wants you to listen. But no matter who is doing the talking, spend this time with him. Do it every day this week. It’ll change everything. Trust me.
Have a good weekend and coming week! God bless!