thoughts from john 21a


next week (fathers’s day) we will conclude our series on the gospel of john after a full year.  in this post and the next, i will share a couple of thoughts from john 21.  i really hope that bill the cycle guy will be able to take these thoughts and preach them like they were meant to be preached.

the first part of the chapter (verses 1-14) tells the story of jesus’ disciples going fishing after he was resurrected.  this passage raises some pretty profound questions that i presented to my people for consideration.  such as…

– jesus had told his disciples to return to galilee and wait for him to join them (matthew 28:10).  at some point during the waiting period, peter said, “i’m going out to fish.” why go fishing?

– the other disciples went with him.  why?

– including himself, john lists 6 disciples who were waiting with peter.  where were the other 4?

as the story unfolds, these professional fishermen fished all night and caught nothing.  in the dawn gloaming, they saw an ethereal figure on the shore who asked them how the fishing was going.  upon receiving their discouraging report, the stranger suggested they throw their nets on the right side of the boat.  they hit the mother lode.

we focus primarily (and i have often preached about) on the miracle of their sudden success.  last sunday i suggested to my church family that the greater miracle might have taken place in their failure.

jesus had commanded his disciples to wait for his arrival.  for whatever reason (impatience?  lack of faith?  bills piling up?), they were disobedient.  to me, the bigger miracle is that jesus showed up right in the middle of their disobedience.  while their muscles ached under a sheen of sweat after a long night of failure and frustration, jesus brought them exactly what they needed (his presence and his provision).  they probably expected a stern rebuke.  they assumed jesus would be disappointed with them.  instead, he invited them to breakfast (a sign on friendship and acceptance) and he served them.

the miracle of the empty net is that jesus is not shocked when we fail.  he is not disappointed by our humanity (he knew we were human when he invited us into his family).  but jesus inserts himself into the midst of our frustration and brings us exactly what we need at that moment.

i am constantly amazed by his love.

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3 thoughts on “thoughts from john 21a

  1. i’ve got a blog post in line to be written (who knows when) about john 21 in light of luke 5. i don’t know that it was intended by john when writing, but there’s some interesting symbolism present:

    when the apostles are first called by Jesus (to be fishers of men), he has them cast out their nets and they catch so many fish the nets break. three (?) years later nearly the exact same thing happens except with not broken nets.

    is there something there about time with Jesus enabling us for evangelism and mission? him taking our inabilities and brokenness and lack of preparation and making it all work anyway?

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