Summary: Jesus gives explicit instructions even to experienced fishermen.

Weekend Message/Devotion

May 4, 2019

Gone Fishing – The Jesus Way

John 21:1-19

Sermon Prayer: “Heavenly Father, I stand before Your people, to deliver Your message. Though the words are mine and I prepared this message, I pray that this message is Your message in its entirety. I pray your blessing and anointing on the message, its delivery, its reception - and most of all, its application in our lives.” Amen

In today’s gospel reading, Jesus makes His third appearance after the resurrection to His disciples, as they were casting the nets for fish just offshore in the Sea of Galilee. They were not at all fruitful and probably getting discouraged. Jesus approached the shore and called out to them “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No”, they answered. (v-5)

It’s one thing to fish for the enjoyment of the sport, even with little or no catch. However, it is quite another to be a fisherman for one’s livelihood and not have anything to show for an outing. The reading says that when Jesus spoke to them, they didn’t recognize that it was He. Even so, when He instructed them to cast the nets on the other side of the boat, they did so. Amazingly, they wound up with a boatload of fish.

When Edna and I were early on in our mission ministry in the Dominican Republic, our financial situation was very bleak. I had just shared this story with the folks that gathered for a message, that evening when I was preparing a newsletter to friends back home. I explained that we were well accepted among the people and they were responding positively to our ministry, so much so that we found ourselves in need of a larger meeting place and funding for more ministry supplies. I am no artist, but I drew a depiction of the fishermen in today’s reading trying to haul in the overloaded nets. The response from home was very humbling and more than met our immediate needs.

In the reading, the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” (v-7)

The question arises frequently asking just who is this disciple that Jesus loved. As is so often the case, I can find no definitive Scripture to answer that question. However, it is generally accepted among theologians that it is John the disciple.

And then, here we go again with Peter – the Impetuous one. Peter jumps from the boat and makes his way to join Jesus on the shore while the rest of them follow in the boat. Jesus had prepared a fire and cooked fish for them as they enjoyed this third reunion with Him.

The reading closes with a dialogue between Jesus and Peter. Here is where we see Jesus with incredible compassion restore Peter after his betrayal. Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love Me?” Peter replies the first two times in the affirmative. The third time, Peter was hurt by being asked three times. My take is that he probably was feeling some guilt, as well and re-emphasized: “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Home in on that part of Peter’s response – “Lord, You know all things!” He does, you know. Jesus is making it very clear that if Peter truly loves Him, he is to “Feed My lambs”; “Take care of My sheep” and “Feed My sheep”.

Many of us – maybe most of us – maybe even all of us have been restored in relationship with the Lord. There is not one of us that have never betrayed the Lord in some way or another. Yet, when we reaffirm our love for Christ, He ALWAYS restores us. This brings us back to that realization that God knows all things. If you think that by saying “I love You Lord” with just words alone and no change of the heart, you are sadly mistaken.

“Lord, You know all things!”

Our reading ends with some very good advice (vs 18-19). “Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

In the prime of our life, we have a lot of free rein to venture and experiment with life. When we become old, we lose that independence. Where we go and what we do is determined by who has taken us by the hand and leads us on. Maybe even where we don’t want to go! Nursing homes are full of elderly folks, who have no say so at all in how they dress, where they go, what they eat, etc. Without regular oversight by family and loved ones, they are at the mercy of the caregivers.

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Samuel Ravelo

commented on May 17, 2020

Howard, I was also a missionary in the DR (98-2000). Thank you for your sermon!

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