John 21:1-7 – After [his resurrection] Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way. "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told [the other disciples], and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. (NIV)
The boat we took across the Sea of Galilee was made from wood and patterned after the old fishing boats which used to ply those waters. From about a hundred yards off shore, we could see a couple of Arab fishermen along the shoreline washing their nets, and smoke curling heavenward from a boardwalk cafe's charcoal grill. As the gentle morning waves slapped the sides of the boat sending a fine spray into our faces, I could almost imagine how today's story originally happened.
Simon Peter and other disciples responded to the old desire to go fishing. They went out onto the Sea of Tiberias and fished all night. Whenever the Bible says something happened at night, it almost always implies spiritual night. When John wrote that the disciples were on the Sea of Tiberias, using the Roman name for the Sea of Galilee, he was indicating the disciples were moving from God's perfect will into His permissive will, from God's plan for their lives into their own agenda, from God's protective umbrella of blessing into the sphere governed by what Scripture calls the world, the flesh, and the devil. As always happens when we leave God's will and go off on our own, nothing good comes of it.
After fishing all night, Peter and the others dejectedly headed toward the shore. As the approaching dawn gradually transformed the grey mist along the shoreline to fuchsia and gold, lightening and lifting as the first warming rays of the sun shot through, Peter and John spotted a single plume of smoke not a hundred yards off. A figure robed in white stood by the fire. With a wave and a shout, which carried extremely well over the open water, he asked them if they had caught any fish. Obviously, here was someone who had hopes of buying fish for his breakfast, but the disciples had none to sell. When the man on the shore told them,"Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some," you would think the disciples would have remembered that command of the Lord from a previous occasion. It was not until after the disciples did as they were bid, and were again unable to haul in the net because of a miraculous haul of fish, that John made the connection. When John exclaimed, "It is the Lord!" Peter jumped overboard to be with His Saviour.
Like Peter, whenever we have strayed from the way Christ calls us to live, or perhaps have grown weary or spiritually cold from hardship and difficult work, be assured Christ Jesus is always waiting there on the shore for us to come back to Him. Jesus is waiting to answer our prayer, to lift us up and carry us through those rough, tough, times when we think life will overwhelm us.
Prayer: O loving Heavenly Father, In Jesus' name we come to you asking forgiveness for living in the dark when you have called us to be children of heaven. Grant to us the Holy Spirit that we might live as your children. Amen.