Quasimodogeniti (The Sunday After Easter) April 19, 1998
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. Here ends our text.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Who was dead and is alive, Dear Fellow Redeemed,
You’ve no doubt heard the term, power lunch. A power lunch is where businessmen get together with their clients, their employees, or with each other, over lunch. But the purpose isn’t just to put food in their stomachs—far from it! At this kind of meal power is wielded. Orders are given and taken. Decisions are made, and things get done. At a power lunch there’s a lot more going on than just eating and drinking!
Our text for today describes a similar meal, one that took place one early morning along the shore of the Sea of Galilee in northern Israel. You might almost call it a power breakfast. Here the risen Lord Jesus was meeting with His employees—the Apostles, the men whose job it would be to spread the Good News to every part of the globe. They weren’t quite ready yet, though; at this point they were still rather slow to believe, impatient and somewhat confused. Maybe you’ve felt that way from time to time yourself: a little confused about what God’s will is for your life, a little impatient, harboring a few doubts about whether the Lord will really be there when you need Him in your life. If so, then you’ll find the account of this episode especially encouraging. Our theme is—
The events of our text took place along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was an area that Jesus and His disciples were familiar with, having spent much of their time there during Christ’s ministry. Now it was a place where Peter and his friends could go when they didn’t know what else to do.
The disciples were at loose ends. They were upset and confused about what had happened to their Master. Not many days before they’d seen Him put to death on Calvary. It’s true that He had twice appeared to them alive after that. But still it was hard to believe. The dead don’t just rise from their graves. Maybe they had just imagined it all! They didn’t know what to think. Well, one thing Peter DID know—he knew fishing. So Simon Peter said to the other disciples, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. Jesus arrives on the scene to help. But the first thing He does is to gently remind the disciples that they are powerless to help themselves. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
For generations, Christian parents have taught their children the familiar cradle song,
Jesus loves me, this I know
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong—
They are weak, but He is strong!
You know, that doesn’t just apply to children. In fact, we grown-up Christians are often far weaker in faith than our children! But our Lord Jesus is strong. When we’ve been struggling in vain with some difficulty in our life, He comes to us as He did to those disciples. He gently asks us, “Children, have ye any meat? Where have all your efforts to solve your own problems gotten you? Nowhere? Just as I thought!” But Christ also reassures us, just as He reassured those disciples: “Never fear, I am with you. I am your powerful Lord Jesus, and I have a plan for your life. Just turn the situation over to ME, and you will see how I can bless you!”
It worked for the disciples. This episode was powerful, in the second place, because it was a demonstration of Jesus’ almighty power.
Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. Notice the simplicity of Jesus’ command. He didn’t tell them to go to a different part of the lake. He didn’t give them complicated instructions. What Jesus told them to do didn’t require any talent—just obedience. All He asked them to do was trust His Word!
As it turns out, that’s what they did. The disciples decided to take Him at His word, and were they ever rewarded! They cast the net over the other side of the boat, …and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. The whole night long they’d thrown the net out again and again and brought it back empty. But now, with one cast, the net was full to bursting with fish! So many, in fact, that they couldn’t get it into the boat; they just had to let it hang over the side.
Well, if the disciples were unsure about Jesus’ identity up till now, then at this point all their uncertainty disappeared. With this miracle Jesus demonstrated His almighty power, and made it crystal clear exactly who He was. The Man standing on shore was the Son of God. Had to be! No one but Jesus, they knew, could command the forces of nature to do His bidding. This had to be Jesus, risen from the dead, presenting Himself once again before their eyes! With excitement in his voice, John said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” Peter, impulsive as usual, immediately wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped into the water to go to his Lord.
About now you may be thinking, “How slow they were! They should have known it was Jesus long before that. They should have been expecting Him!” And you’re right, of course—they should have. But even though they were uncertain, even though their faith was weak, Jesus knew what they needed. He led them slowly, strengthening their faith gradually. He knew they’d never take His resurrection in with one visit, so He appeared to them again and again, strengthening them a little more each time.
The same thing’s true for us. Our Lord deals graciously with our doubts, our uncertainties, our lack of faith. He strengthens us by demonstrating His almighty power in our lives.
Isn’t it true? Look back at the experience of your own life! When you’ve had a problem or a need, and you exhausted all your own efforts to try and solve it, and you finally turned to the Lord (which you should have done in the first place), hasn’t the Lord always come through? Of course He has! It’s not for nothing that God encourages us in the Psalms, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you and you shall glorify Me.” He always comes to our rescue, sometimes with a downright miracle. Just as with those disciples on the Sea of Galilee, He doesn’t require extraordinary talent of us, only trust. “Commit your way unto the Lord,” the Bible says, “trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.”
Like the disciples, you may also have experienced the fact that God is not stingy when He blesses us. The Lord didn’t put a few fish in the disciples’ net—He filled it to bursting with 153 large fish. They couldn’t have jammed another one in there! Likewise, the Lord tends to satisfy our wants and needs in an extremely generous way. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”—Jn 10:10. Again, look back at your own experience. Has God put you on a subsistence diet? Has He given you just enough money and goods to get by? I’d be very surprised if that were true! If your life is anything like mine, then the Lord has demonstrated His power by giving you much more than you need. In fact, He tends to pour blessings into your life until you can hardly hold another one!
And then there’s the most important blessing of all that we have from our Lord. It’s the forgiveness of sins. You know, those post-resurrection appearances of Jesus are just as important to us as they were to those disciples. They’re the evidence that our Lord Jesus really did come out of the grave—come back from the dead!—on the third day. And if Jesus really did rise from the dead, that means that His atonement for our sins really was carried out successfully. For you see, the reason Jesus gave Himself up on the cross was to offer His heavenly Father a sacrifice to pay for our sins. Easter Sunday was proof that that sacrifice was accepted by God! The empty tomb proclaims to the world that Jesus took our place, that He paid for our sins, and that He finished the job that He was sent to earth to do. He rescued us sinners from hell, and earned a place in heaven for every one of us. Easter leaves no room for doubt about that! Easter is the reason Paul could say, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.”
Yes, it certainly was a “power breakfast by the Sea of Galilee.” And by the way—it’s important that we notice the symbolic nature of what happened there that day. Because this episode wasn’t just meant to strengthen their faith and convince them of the resurrection. There was something else here, too: Jesus was giving them a special promise for the future. It was a promise of powerful results in their work.
Christ sometimes used symbols to show His disciples what they might expect to happen in the future. For instance, a little later in this chapter we read about how Jesus wrapped Peter’s belt around his wrists; it was to show Peter how he would one day be taken prisoner and put to death for preaching the Gospel. Well, this whole episode by the sea was meant to be symbolic, too. Remember, Jesus had once told His disciples that He would make them “fishers of men;” they would be His representatives, who would carry the Gospel to the four corners of the world. But the empty nets of their fruitless night’s work were meant to remind them of something: to remind them of how useless it would be to try and carry out their Apostolic mission using their own power and ingenuity.
No, Jesus WORD was what was needed to make their mission work effective! When they put their trust in Jesus’ Word, the results were powerful. The full-to-bursting nets were meant to symbolize the powerful success that their efforts would enjoy if they simply put their trust in God’s Word to do the work. And history has shown this symbol to be true: the Gospel has now gone into all the world. Using the power of His Word, God has caused the work of His disciples to bear abundant fruit. And it really couldn’t be otherwise, for the Lord promised in Isaiah, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”—Is 55:11.
God makes the same promise to you and me: the promise of powerful results in our work for the Lord. For after all, you too have been commissioned by God to carry the Gospel to others! When you support our missions in Thailand and India and Nigeria, you’re not wasting your money. As long as God’s Word is being used, you know we’re going to get results in those mission fields. When you take the time to share a Bible passage with a friend or a relative—someone you know, perhaps, who is ill, or grieving, or going through a particularly stressful time in their life—well, that’s when YOU are God’s missionary, and as long as you use God’s Word, you KNOW you’re going to be successful! That’s why you need to hear and study God’s Word regularly—so you can prepare for those mission opportunities. In that way you will “always be ready to give a defense, to anyone who asks you, a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” Your Lord Jesus has already rescued you from drowning in your sins; He’s brought you into the ship of salvation. What better way to show your thanks that to give someone else a hand up into the boat!
Have you ever seen those advertisements for Instant Breakfast? They’ve always made me a little skeptical. It doesn’t seem likely to me that a glass of milky liquid could provide as much energy for your morning as a regular breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast and juice! Well, it may be true for all I know. One thing I am sure of, though—Jesus’ breakfast by the Sea of Galilee is no fake. This episode holds tremendous energy for us Christians. It gives us everything we need, not just for a morning, but for our whole lives. It shows us our powerlessness, it demonstrates Jesus’ power, and it promises us powerful results when we use our Savior’s powerful Word. God grant that we may ever do so, AMEN.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.