Summary: This sermon focues on the importance of being fishers of men.
Introduction: Some time after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James & John, and two other disciples were all together. We aren’t told exactly when this particular encounter took place but we do know that it was after Jesus had appeared to his Disciples in the Upper Room.
Our text doesn’t explain why the Disciples were together but apparently they had made the trip from Jerusalem to Galilee and were now waiting for Jesus to appear to them as He had promised to do. I’m sure that the events of the past few weeks must have dominated their conversation while they waited and waited, and waited some more. Perhaps they discussed their plans for the future. Perhaps they were trying to figure out what they were supposed to do next. They knew that Jesus was alive because they had seen him with their own two eyes on two different occasions. But everything had happened so quickly, one night they were sitting around the table enjoying the Passover meal together, and the next day they witnessed Jesus’ death and burial. Then on the first day of the week they discovered that Jesus was no longer dead, but that He had risen from the dead, just as He had said that He would.
Now here they were together again near the Sea of Galilee waiting and watching for Jesus to appear to them again. It must have been a confusing if not overwhelming time in their lives. Their Master was alive, but at the same time, He wasn’t with them at this particular moment, and they weren’t sure when he would appear.
Peter, like many of us, was not a very patient man. Apparently Peter got tired of sitting around doing nothing, so he decided to go fishing. Maybe the stress had finally gotten to him and he thought fishing was just the thing to do. After all, as many of you know, there is just something therapeutic about going fishing. I don’t know about you, but one of the things I enjoy the most about fishing is being able to get away for awhile and not think or worry about anything but catching fish. Maybe that’s why Peter wanted to go fishing. Maybe he wanted to get away from everyone and clear his head a little. Or perhaps Peter was considering going back into the fishing business full-time. After all that’s what he had done before he became a Disciple of Jesus Christ.
Much of the fishing on the Sea of Galilee was done at night in those days, as it still is today. Fishermen would use torches to attract insects to the boat, which in turn attracted fish to the area. They would then throw out their nets and catch the fish. But even though Peter, and James and John were experienced fishermen they didn’t catch a single fish all night long.
You know that doesn’t bother some fishermen. My father is a good example of someone who can fish from daylight to dark and not catch any fish, and still have a good time. I’m not like that, if I haven’t caught a fish after a couple of hours I’m ready to quit and go home. I suspect Peter and the rest of the Disciples were more than just a little disappointed that they hadn’t caught any fish. They must have been exhausted as they approached the shore around sunrise. That’s when a man called out to them and said, “Hey friends, haven’t you caught any fish?” I can imagine them grumbling underneath their breath before replying, “No we haven’t.” Then the man, who just happened to be Jesus, called out to them and said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” I imagine the other disciples looked at Peter to see what he thought of the idea. He may have said something like this: “Well it’s certainly not going to hurt anything to try.” To their amazement, they caught a ‘boatload of fish,’ 153 to be exact. This must have triggered a memory for the Apostle John of an incident that had taken place earlier in their lives, because He suddenly recognized that this stranger was really no stranger at all, but that it was the Lord. He told Peter, and Peter, immediately put on his cloak, jumped out of the boat, and swam to shore to meet Jesus, while the rest of the disciples pulled the boat filled with fish to shore. When they arrived on shore they immediately noticed that Jesus had already built a fire and had some fish and bread ready for them to eat. Some people might just dismiss this story as just another ‘fishing story,” but I believe that there are several things that we can learn from this particular story.