What do we bring to Jesus? Only our need.
The post-resurrection fishing scene in John 21 echoes an earlier fishing scene for the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, recorded in Luke 5. In both stories, despite their professional fishing experience, the disciples toiled and toiled but caught nothing. In both instances, Jesus appeared and had them bring in a tremendous load of fish. The first encounter was to teach them to be fishers of men; the second was to remind them to continue in their work of adding to God’s kingdom. Both miracles illustrated the point that the disciples could only succeed through God’s power. Jesus was as much in control of the Sea of Galilee when the disciples caught nothing as He was when they caught everything. He was just as sovereign over their emptiness as He was over their fullness. Christ desires that we see our poverty in order that we might bow in wonder at His provision. When you and I are all too aware of our own emptiness, we can trust that God is in control of that too. He invites us to seek that every void in life be filled with His goodness and strength.
When Jesus called out to the disciples to ask if they had caught any fish, He forced them to face their needy condition and answer honestly. Christ has questions for us in our emptiness today, too. He’s not looking for excuses, dialogues, or debates. He wants our honest recognition of our need. The disciples’ condition mirrors our own: we cannot even do what we are good at without the Lord’s help. We can neither speak nor listen, sing nor write, work nor play without God’s enabling grace. As Jesus had said earlier in the Gospel of John, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Jesus did not leave the disciples in their poverty, nor did He provide just enough for them to get by; He abundantly supplied a large haul. Such provision reflects how, by promising eternal life to all who believe in Him, Jesus continues to give immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine. When Christ intervenes in our lives by His Spirit, He doesn’t merely run a trickle of water through them to tease us; He promises that out of our hearts will flow rivers of living water (John 7:38). Just as Jesus went on to invite the disciples onto shore to eat breakfast with Him (21:9-10), so He invites you to His table to fill your hunger. And as He invites you to join Him, He also comes to you on the way, offering more than enough strength for the journey.
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). Bring your need to Him today. Be honest about your own lack. And then trust Him to give you far more than you need in order to walk towards your heavenly home, serving His glorious purposes as you do.
Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
1After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards1 off.
9When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
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