Resurrection….and Recommission

John 21:1-14

Have you ever experienced a complete dead end?

There are different kinds of dead ends….

  • Some you can just turn around and re-route – find a new road.
  • Others just look like dead ends but with a little patience and perseverance, and on closer inspection, you are able to find some alternative actions.
  • However, some really are dead ends and you know that there is no way out on your own strength or resources. Ever felt like that? Have you ever felt that you were at a complete dead end?? Nowhere to go? No resources left? Out of imagination?  All out of steam?

Our text for today takes us back to the Sea of Galilee where several of the disciples have gathered by the lakeside…..and are, in a way, at a complete dead end in their lives and work.

  • Their master has been crucified. They’re still in shock. What were these past three years all about? Despite their promises to always stick with Jesus they had all fled in his hour of trouble.  They had all failed him. It’s true that he had appeared to them on two occasions following his resurrection……and while they expressed joy, they were also afraid. What did this all mean? What were they to do now??
  • Our text states that this was Jesus’ 3rd appearance to the disciples after his resurrection.
  • Peter decides to go fishing…..although we’re not told why. Others join him. 7 disciples (5 named, 2 unnamed) head out in the boat.
  • They fish all night but catch nothing.
  • From the shore a stranger (Jesus) suggests they throw their nets on the other side….
  • When they do so…..they catch a huge haul and John realizes that it must be Jesus (who else could it be?? It no doubt reminded them of their original calling and commissioning to be “fishers of men” – recorded in Luke 5).
  • They come ashore and eat breakfast with Jesus, who has prepared fish and bread over a fire.
  • He invites them to bring some of their fish and add it to the fish he has provided.
  • In the remaining portion of chapter 21 Jesus re-commissions Peter for service – as a shepherd to the “flock” as well as a “fisher of men and women”.

While the story begins in a dead end, we find the story ending with new possibilities. The disciples (and especially Peter) are invited back in…. are re-commissioned for fishing. They are not only forgiven but given meaningful work. “Take care of my sheep. Follow Me.” And so what began as a disaster, ends with an open door for continued fishing / service.

This account reminds me of the feeling that we often had in our work in Japan as church planters and missionaries. There was probably not a single ministry where we did not feel at times to be at a complete DEAD END. I’d love to stand here today and claim that we’d caught 153 big fish! But the truth is that we often felt as though we’d been fishing all night with zero results. How about you today??? Any dead ends?

While we’ve barely touched on this account today….. I hear three of Jesus’ statements ringing in my ears:

1. Keep fishing! (I’ve called you and I will be with you… whether you feel like you’re catching fish or not…)

2. Try something different! (Throw your nets on the other side….)

3. Bring some of the fish you’ve caught! (Let’s have breakfast together. Bring what you have….when added to what I provide, it will be enough!)

(the above is a summary of the message shared during our worship on May 1, 2022.)