Summary: Jesus teaches his disciples some valuable lessons in the miracluous catch of fish in John 21.
1) “Try the right side!” (1-6). Vs. 1-“Afterward”. Not sure how much time had passed since the appearance with Thomas and the others. Vs. 3-Adam Clarke’s commentary: ‘“Peter saith-I go a fishing.” Previously to the crucifixion of our Lord, the temporal necessities of himself and his disciples appear to have been supplied by the charity of individuals: Lu 8:3. As it is probable that the scandal of the cross had now shut up this source of support, the disciples, not fully knowing how they were to be employed, purposed to return to their former occupation of fishing, in order to gain a livelihood.’ I don’t think this means that they thought to abandon their calling. We’re not sure how much time had passed since Jesus met them last and they could very well have been low on funds. In any event they decided not to be idle but to be busy with what they were familiar with. Actually they had done what Jesus had instructed to Mary in Matt. 28:10, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” “That night”. According to Aristotle, nighttime was favored in ancient times. Unfortunately, their efforts ‘netted’ then nothing. Vs. 4-Again, Jesus goes unrecognized (like when he went out to them walking on water, Mary thinking he was the gardener, the two on the road to Emmaus). This could have been due to the fact that it was early morning so visibility may have been an issue. Plus they were a little ways from shore, making it more difficult to see accurately. Vs. 5-Jesus asks the question that would provoke their embarrassment. Jesus knew they hadn’t caught any fish. Was he rubbing it in; was he making fun of their misfortune? No; he had a plan. I like how the disciples answered him-Just a flat out no. No excuses, no story of the big one that got away. How difficult was it to have to admit that despite being a professional fisherman who had worked hard all night, you’ve got nothing to show for it. What a humbling experience. Yet despite their embarrassment, despite their despondency, they didn’t offer excuses; they simply answered the question with the truth. Was Jesus testing their integrity here? They thought he was a stranger. They would need to be reputable men if they were to be carrying the gospel. I would say if it was a test to be truthful in answering an embarrassing question they passed. Vs. 6-If you were one of the disciples, what would you have thought about Jesus’ request? A prideful response would’ve been, “who’s this guy? I’m a professional fisherman I think I know what I’m doing.” I’m sure they had already tried fishing off that side of the boat and got nothing. Why would it suddenly work now? I would have been skeptical. I don’t know if they had any pride or skepticism but what we see them doing is obeying this ‘stranger’. They may have figured, ‘what have we got to lose’. In any event, whatever skepticism there may have been quickly went away when the great haul of fish came. Notice something about the timing of the miraculous catch. Jesus did not come to them until they had spent all night toiling. They were frustrated for lack of return for their efforts. Why had Jesus not come during the middle of the night and performed the miracle instead of waiting until the end of their excursion? Jesus could’ve caused the fish to swim into the net on the left side of the boat so why did he have them throw the net on the right side? One reason was to authenticate the miracle. At the end of the night all resources and opportunities would have been exhausted. No options left. So, Jesus coming at this time would have given no other reason to think this wasn’t a miracle. He also did it this way to test them. It was an issue of faith. It was an issue of obedience. Sometimes what Jesus asks us to do won’t make sense; it won’t seem like it will make any difference. But obedience doesn’t take understanding-it takes faith. It involves trust in the one who’s giving the command. There’s always a good reason for what Jesus asks us to do. “Wade Hughes, Sr. tells the story of a weak and sickly man. His condition grew worse, but he could not afford a doctor. He lived in the deep back woods in an old log cabin, and out in front of his cabin was a huge boulder. One night he had a vision. God told him to go out and push the massive rock in front of his home all day long, day after day, until he told him to stop. The man got up early in the morning, and with great excitement, he pushed on the rock as long as he could. After a rest he pushed some more. The vision from God inspired the man as he pushed against the rock. Each day he pushed a little harder and a little longer. Day after day he pushed. Days rolled into weeks, and weeks into months, as he faithfully pushed against the rock. After 8 months of pushing the rock, the man was getting tired of pushing the rock so much, and in his tiredness he started to doubt his dream. He measured from his porch to the rock, and after pushing the rock, he would measure to see how much he had moved the rock. After two weeks of pushing and measuring, he realized he had not moved the boulder a fraction of an inch. As a matter of fact, the boulder was in the same place as when he started 8 months prior. The man was disappointed because he saw his work had accomplished nothing. He was tired and his dream seemed dashed upon the very rock he had been trying to move. He sat on his porch and cried, because he had invested so much time for nothing. But as the sun was setting in the west, Jesus came and sat down next to the man. He said, “Son, why are you so sad?” The man replied, “Lord, You know how sick and weak I am, and then the vision you gave me built up a false hope. I have pushed with all that was within me for many months, and that old rock is right where it was when I started.” Jesus said to him, “I never told you to move the rock, I told you to push against the rock.” Jesus told the man to step in front of the mirror and look at himself. As an act of obedience the man stepped in front of a mirror. He was amazed. How could he have missed this? He had been so sickly and weak, and what he saw in the mirror was a strong muscular man. He also realized that he had not been coughing all night. It dawned on him that he had been feeling better for months, and it was all because he had been pushing—not moving—the rock. Then the man realized that the plan of God was not to change the position of the rock, but to change him.” God’s instructions might not make sense at the time but when we obey we will experience the success of his wise plans.