Summary: Do not give up
3rd Sunday of Easter
Casting Your Net on the Right Side
John 21 : 1 – 19
The Rev. (Dr.) Ezekiel Ette
Have you ever had unsolicited advice? Just go to Facebook and type in a problem that you are having and see the number of total strangers who would give you unsolicited advice. Professor Maud once asked Dr. Laura what to do about the biblical injunction that advised people to own foreigners as slaves and not fellow Israelites. It ignited a big theology debate in my group among fellow clergies.
In this third Sunday after Easter, we are still in the Post-Resurrection appearances of the Christ to his disciples. Our Gospel reading this morning is another post resurrection appearance. Like all post appearances, there is a lesson here. Beyond simply noting that Christ did indeed appear to humans to see physically and not as some phantom ghost which was a common heathen story, the Apostle John recalled a story about one such appearance. The story is prefaced by an editorial addition in verse one of the 21st Chapter. The editor reminded us at the beginning of the reason for the story : “”Jesus Manifested himself again”. This comes immediately after the story of the appearance to Thomas. Like the previous story, there were many witnesses, seven in number (V.2). A background is given on why the seven were together in V.3. Simon was going fishing and the others accompanied him. Now understand that this was a stressful period and so Simon needed something to take his mind off the tragic, shocking and brutal crucifixion. Well despite all efforts, the group did not catch any fish all night and so by dawn, they were obviously exhausted. V.4 states that with the break of dawn, sleepless and tired with nothing to show for their efforts, it was right then that Jesus appeared. As it is usual with us humans, when we are at the end of our wit, we fail to see the door. They did not recognize the Lord. Note the question that the Lord asked in V.5 “Do you catch any fish?” “Do you have any fish?” And what was their reply, a simple “No” without an elaboration. The Lord gave them an instruction “Cast your net to the right side of the boat and you will find a catch. Notice that they did not argue. It is interesting that even though they did not recognize the Lord, they obeyed this “stranger” and did accordingly. The evangelist reported in V6 that they could not even haul in the fish they caught because of the great number. With the miracle, John recognized the Lord and the others recognized the Lord too and those who were ashore rushed to drag the fish and then on the beach there was already fire ready with fish and bread for breakfast. With the extra fish brought on shore, the Lord invited them to breakfast. “Come and have breakfast” he said (V.12). This, the evangelist noted, was the third appearance after the resurrection (v14).
About 100 years ago the Austrian Psychologist, Sigmund Freud said that tried as we would, sometimes our efforts sometimes meet with little success and in order for us to make sense of it all we rationalize, we make excuses and we find someone to blame. We live in a world where our efforts sometimes are not rewarded proportionally. Students in my class often tell me “I spent so much time studying for that test and all you gave me was a “C”? Others said “I put in so much time writing that paper, and the grade did not reflect the time I put”. I often tell them that it is not the time and the effort, but what are required and need are the products. Sometimes in life the product does not reflect our effort and sacrifice.
You spent so much time in the office and you think you are doing the most work, but when it comes time for a raise and promotion, someone else gets the raise and someone gets the promotion. You have been waiting for the position to open for a long time and you have all the required credentials. You interviewed well for the position and waited for the call, but it did not come and finally when the response came it was a letter telling you someone else has been hired for the position. A friend of mine said he put in a lot of effort in his novel only to discover after five years of completing the manuscript that no publisher was interested in a story he believed was the best ever told. I once worked with a lady who told me that she had waited so long and none of the men she was interested in wanted marriage. Her sister who was not as pretty as she was, and was not educated as much as she was, got married and all of her friends were married. She said she was tired of being the only one without a husband among her friends. “Why pastor”? she asked. “What is wrong with me?”