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JOHN 21:1-14

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
April 30, 2000

Last week was a tremendous time for us as a congregation - in one week to celebrate Palm Sunday - Maundy Thursday - and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is no greater event in human history than the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

This morning we want to look at what comes next. After such a tremendous celebration - where do we go from here? What do we do now? I encourage you to turn with me to John 21:1-14 - our text for this morning.

John 21 takes place in the period of time between the resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Its evening - the scene is shore of the Sea of Galilee.

John 21:1-14: After these things, - after the events of the resurrection - and the first two times Jesus has been with the disciples - after these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias - another name for the Sea of Galilee - and He manifested Himself in this way. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

On the Sea of Galilee fishing was done at night. Fisherman used torches to attract fish to the boat and then caught them nets. That night - even though these were skilled fisherman - that night they caught nothing.

Verse 4: But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. In the twilight of the early morning - about 100 yards from the shore - it was impossible to see who was standing there. So - this unknown person - who was - Jesus - said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

There’s a moment of recognition here. The disciple whom Jesus loved - who was John - suddenly realizes who’s on the shore. John tells Peter, “Its the Lord.”

Verse 7: So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” Simon went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are you?” knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.

After the resurrection - what comes next? Where do we go from here? There are three things happening in this scene that we want to highlight.


The disciples had been through the betrayal - the trial - the crucifixion - Jesus’ death. Its hard to imagine how each of these disciples struggled so deeply with these events. Their faith was put to the test.

Then they met the resurrected Jesus. Imagine - He died and now He’s alive. They had seen the empty tomb - shared a meal together - seen Him pass through walls - seen Thomas worship Jesus when his doubts had been removed. A transforming experience for the disciples. Everything they’ve hoped and believed and lived for is true and certain.

The last thing we’d expect - after everything that just took place is for these disciples is to go fishing. But, seemingly with nothing else to do, Peter says, “I’m going fishing.”

There’s something familiar about this - the life of a fisherman that Peter grew up with - the companionship with the others - the good memories. Back to the routine - back to the familiar.

There is a familiar story about a man who fell off a cliff. On the way down he was able to grab a root sticking out of the cliff. So there he was dangling from this root - unable to climb up and falling would have meant certain death.

So he cries out, “Is anybody there? Help me!”

This voice comes from above, “This is God. I provided the root for you. I’ll take care of you. But, you have to do one thing.”

The man - who was greatly relieved asked, “What do I need to do?”

And God says, “Let go.”

The man thought for a short time and then called out, “Is there anybody else out there?”

There are times in our lives - experiences we go through - which are very difficult. We cry out - and in the midst of things we experience God’s provision - protection - presence in our lives. And when the crisis is over - we’re tempted to go back to trusting ourselves and not God.

James - in the first chapter of his book - tells us that the purpose of these trials is to cause growth in our lives - to perfect us - to prepare us for greater usefulness and greater service for God. (James 1:2-4)

Resting in the familiar can never take us where God wants us to go or produce in us the kind of Godly character that is useful in God’s service.


In verse 6, Jesus tells the disciples to put their net into the water on the right side of the boat. When they put the net in they catch so many fish that they can’t haul the net into the boat.

3 years earlier - Peter, Andrew, James, and John had been fishing on the Sea of Galilee. It was frustrating. After a whole night of fishing they’d caught nothing. Then Jesus said to them - put your nets in again. When they let down their nets they caught so many fish that the the nets broke and the boats began to sink. Jesus says to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” (Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11)

Now, on the Sea of Galilee - their nets full of fish - John connects the two events together. Peter - when he realizes its Jesus on the shore - leaves everything familiar and rushes to Jesus. Its not a coincidence. The two events together are reminder to the disciples - they’re suppose to be catching men not fish.

Its also interesting that John records that the disciples caught 153 fish - and exact number. There are a number of different explanations as to why this number - 153.

The most interesting comes from Jerome - the early church father - who said that the Greeks had discovered 153 kinds of fish in the sea. Of course today we know that there are lot more than that. But in that day they knew of 153 species. Its been suggested that this was God’s way of saying that the Gospel is for everyone - regardless of background, color, culture, whatever. No matter what type of fish we’re dealing with we’re to catch them with the Gospel net.

Jesus is bringing His disciples full circle - back to the beginning of their ministry together - and reminding them that they are called to go and share the Gospel with others.

The third part of this event that we want to see is in how JESUS PROVIDES FOR HIS DISCIPLES

When the disciples get to shore - the fire is going - the fish are cooking - the bread is ready. Jesus says, “Bring your fish and come to breakfast.” This whole scene seems almost unreal. The disciples sitting on the shore of the Sea of Galilee - a beautiful peaceful morning - having breakfast with God - who just a few days earlier - had been crucified - and now is resurrected from death. And once again, Jesus - God - is serving the disciples.

There are several things going on here. First, notice that Jesus provides everything. Everything we have - everything we need - comes from the hand of God. We didn’t provide the world or the food that’s in it. We don’t provide the opportunities that come our way. Behind all of this is the hand of God already at work in our lives. He has already put us where He wants us to be - leading us into situations to share His Gospel - providing all that we need to do His ministry.

Second, notice that Jesus invites the disciples to bring the fish they caught. That’s amazing. The privilege that God gives us to participate in His ministry - to take part in what He’s doing.

This is the same Jesus who miraculously fed 5,000 plus people with 5 loaves of bread and two fishes. But we need to remember that Jesus sent the disciples out into the crowd to find what food there was. The bread and fish came from a little boy who was willing to give them to Jesus. (John 6:1-14)  God could have done the miracle by Himself. But He chooses to involve us.

On January 31st - Alaska Airlines Flight 261, flying from Puerto Vallarta to San Francisco, crashed into the Pacific Ocean about 20 miles off the Californian coast. All 83 passengers and the 5 crew members were killed.

According to those investigating the crash - the plane suddenly dropped 7,000 feet - then remained stable for 9 minutes - then fell 18,000 feet in the final minute. Other than the pilots struggling with the aircraft they really have had no plausible explanation for those 9 minutes of stable flight.

However, an Alaska Airlines pilot who listened to the recordings of what happened in the cockpit reported hearing Linda Knight - whose husband is a pastor in Monroe, Washington - heard Linda Knight explaining the Gospel over the intercom during those 9 minutes. Just before the crash she led the passengers in a prayer to God for forgiveness of their sins.

It wouldn’t surprise me if that was true. That’s how God works. He provides the resources and the opportunities - all He asks for our willingness.

That may not be as dramatic as sharing the Gospel while a plane crashes. That may be a very simple thing - inviting someone over for coffee and sharing Jesus with them - talking about the resurrection at work or school - inviting others to church. Sometimes something seems pretty insignificant to us now. But when history comes to an end and we’re with Jesus and looking back at all this - a short conversation about the Gospel - could be the greatest thing we ever do.

After the resurrection what comes next for us? God has given us the resurrection of His Son - He has saved us from our sins - given us new life - present and eternal - so that we can move forward with confidence - open and ready for the opportunities He provides and the ability He gives - to share His Gospel with others.