April 3, 2022
“When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea. But since they were not far from land...”
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“When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea. But since they were not far from land, (about 100 yards away), the other disciples came in the boat dragging the net full of fish. When they got on land, they saw a charcoal fire there with fish lying on it, and bread. ‘Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,’ Jesus told them. So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish – 153 of them. Even though there were so many of them, the net was not torn.” John 21:7b-11
The theme of the last chapter of the Gospel of John seems to be restoration for Simon Peter and shoring up loose ends for six other disciples. (John 21:2) Today I want to focus on two less-obvious aspects of this chapter.
The Bible tells us they were fishing in the “Sea of Tiberius,” another term for the southern part of the Sea of Galilee. Tiberius was a Roman town. Since religious Jews would never choose to live around Romans, Tiberius would have been safe enough for the disciples to lay low and still fish in familiar waters.
While Pilate defended Jesus three times, then he recanted; Peter denied Jesus three times, and, in John 21, he repented.
We know Peter’s heart desired reconciliation with Jesus. The very moment he perceived Jesus was on the shore, Peter jumped into the water. This scene is reminiscent of an earlier time when Peter’s lack of faith prohibited him from walking on water.
“‘Lord, if it’s You,’ Peter answered Him. “Command me to come to You on the water. ‘Come!’ Jesus said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the strength of the wind, he was afraid. And beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’” Matthew 14:28-30
We can assume Peter possibly believed he would walk on water because, not wearing proper swimming attire, he tied his garment around himself. I think Peter was trying to communicate to Jesus that he was willing to be faithful, given another chance.
The second observation in Chapter 21, concerns the number of fish the disciples caught. To this day, 153 known fish species have ever lived in the Sea of Galilee. (About 30 species live there today.) The miracle may not have simply been a great haul of fish. Perhaps, they caught one of every type of fish. Regardless, their catch of fish foreshadowed worldwide evangelism, which would spring forth from the disciples’ preaching. It also foretold the end of the age when all mankind will be judged.
“Again, the Kingdom of heaven is like a large net thrown into the sea. It collected every kind of fish, and when it was full, they dragged it ashore, sat down, and gathered the good fish into containers but threw out the worthless ones. So it will be at the end of the age.” Matthew 13:47