Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
John 21:1-14 tells the story of Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish when the disciples who were fishermen had fished all night and caught nothing. They had gone back to their old job after Jesus was crucified on the cross.
Early in the morning after the resurrection of Jesus, He stood on the shore of the Sea of Galilee watching some of His disciples from a distance. Jesus recognized Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two other disciples, but they did not realize that it was Jesus. This was the same place where Jesus had first met Peter three years earlier. This was the third time that Jesus had appeared before His disciples after His resurrection.
Jesus noticed the fishermen had caught nothing after fishing all night. Had they lost their touch since they hadn't fished in three years because they were following Jesus? They had been fishing at night when fish usually bite. They were using the same bait they used previously. Still, they caught nothing.
The fishermen went back to what was comfortable for them. Jesus called out to them, “Do you have any fish?” Jesus knew the answer, but He wanted the fishermen to acknowledge that perhaps something was wrong. Jesus already knew that after spending three years with Him that returning to their old ways was fruitless. Therefore, Jesus let them enjoy fishing one more time which would be their last time. Jesus wanted to assure the fishermen turned disciples that the work they had done in three years was not in vain.
So the former carpenter tells fishermen how to catch fish. Jesus called out:
“Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” (John 21:6)
This was elementary to seasoned Galilean fishermen who had already done that all night. Even though they had tried every side of the boat and had caught nothing, they did what Jesus suggested. They wanted to prove Him wrong, so they did it anyway.
Maybe the fishermen were desperate enough to try what sounded obvious. They listened to the voice, threw their net on the right side, and fish began to bite. They couldn’t haul the net in because of all the fish. The net was so full they couldn’t lift it into the boat.
According to John 21:11, the fishermen caught 153 large fish. That was more fish than they had ever caught before at one time. Besides, it was during the day and not during the night as they had set out to do.
Breakfast on the Beach
By now, the fishermen knew the stranger who had told them where to fish was Jesus. He said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Jesus took bread and gave it to them, and He did the same with the fish.
The disciples had seen Jesus do that so many times before.
- He did it with the fish and bread when He fed the five thousand, besides women and children in Jewish territory (Matthew 14:13-21).
- He also did it when He fed the four thousand fish and bread in the Gentile territory (Matthew 15:29-39).
- Jesus broke bread during the last supper He had with His disciples before His death (Matthew 26:26).
The disciples welcomed the opportunity to eat with Jesus again like in old times.
Perhaps you’ve been fishing all night and caught nothing. Jesus knows what you are looking for, and He knows where the fish are. Jesus knows if you are looking for a healing, finances, a healthy marriage, a successful career, security, or peace.
Additionally, Jesus knows where you can find whatever you are fishing for. He’s asking you the same question He asked Peter and the disciples. He wants you to acknowledge things are not working out for you. Once you acknowledge that reality, then you are in the right position for Jesus to help you just as He helped the fishermen.
All you have to do is to obey Him no matter how elementary His advice might be.
Instead of denying your situation or making excuses for it, let Jesus know you are miserable, hurting and you need help. Then He will tell you where to cast your net.
What Jesus tells you might seem senseless, but by faith, you must do what He says. The fishermen thought they knew how to catch fish, but Jesus suggested a better way, and they caught more than they could put in their boat.
Have you been fishing all night and have nothing to show for it? Perhaps it is best to cast your net on the right side of the boat.
Helna on October 18, 2020:
Thank you very much for this encouraging words. Perhaps you’ve been fishing all night and caught nothing. Jesus knows what you are looking for and He knows where the fish are. Jesus knows if you are looking for healing, finances, a healthy marriage, a successful career, security, or peace. I needed it. Thanks for your article. May God Bless you.
Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on October 18, 2020:
Hi, Margaret, I recall an old gospel song: The Darkest Hour is just before Dawn. When we can't see the light, and we are the weakest from hunger for peace, righteousness, and God's love to show through, that's when the sun comes shining in if we are following His Commandments and have accepted Christ as our Savior. Thanks for a great uplifting article. Peace be with you.