Fishermen’s Friend Jn 21 v1-14
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When Paul told me what passage I was to preach on, at first glance I though it could be an early night and Iâll get home to see the start of Heartbeat! However as I spent time with the Lord & meditating on the passage I realised there is a lot more to it than just Jesus cooking breakfast for some of his disciples after showing them the best place to fish.
In my youth I used to go fishing, normally with my best mate at the time, Des. Des was very good at angling and later in life he became a semi pro. Even as a kid he knew the best places to fish. Often we would be sitting on a riverbank, me catching nothing and him with a keep net full. However on numerous occasions it was strange how when he reeled in to change his bait or go to the loo my float would end up where he had been fishing. Let’s be fair you should be able to take the odd liberty with a best mate shouldn’t you! Although doing so never made me a great angler, I did catch more fish when I poached on his territory!
In our reading this was no leisure trip Look at verse 3 again. Peter said, “I’m going out to fish” The Greek translation of the word Peter used is ‘hupago’ It’s pronounced (hoop-agâ-o), and literally means, ‘I retire.’ That’s right. Peter, the one who jumped out of the boat to walk on water, the one who told Jesus he would never deny him, although he did 3 times, now feels like giving up, retiring from being a disciple and going back to being a fisherman! To be fair who could blame him. Although Jesus had shown himself to the disciples twice before this event in the upper room where the disciples locked themselves away not wanting the same fate as Jesus, neither would I especially having seen the film The Passion, they must all have been downcast.
Although I have never though much about it in the past, Jesus had for 3 years provided their every need, they didn’t have to work anymore as fisherman, tax collectors etc. Even with Judas being in charge of the family purse, there was sufficient means, even after he had taken his perks as he probably called it! Although there is no mention to my knowledge in the Bible about people financially supporting the ministry of Jesus, I’m sure there were many grateful people about who would have supported him. The selection of recorded miracles he did was just the tip of the iceberg, we are told in Johns Gospel. Now the disciples leader, Jesus had gone, they had to think about the future. We don’t know much about the disciples families but I’m sure they would have some family responsibilities. Unfortunately money doesn’t grow on trees does it! I gather from what I have read and studied over the years that Simon Peter before he followed Jesus was like my mate Des a very good fisherman and probably had a successful business. However like we all do occasionally, he was having an off day. Out all night and nothing caught, they must have all had the right hump! Then this bright spark who none of them recognise at first, tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat. Can you imagine it, hey Simon Peter was an expert and not only that but in those days fishing boats were designed to pull nets up only on one side. I think if it had been me I would have called back with a rather rude remark. None of us like being told how we should be doing our job do we, especially when we think were good at it! However part of the miracle as far as I can see is that Peter actually did it, after all he had a reputation for being very strong headed and single minded. Maybe in his sub conscious he remembered the last time someone had told him where to drop his nets.
LUKE Chapter 5 v4-11 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
It’s strange isn’t it how after Jesus has done something rather wonderful and dramatic in our lives we often lose sight of the fact and when faced with a problem we still muddle on in our own strength.
I am sure that on this second occasion as the nets were filled John was reminded of this previous occasion and then he recognized it was indeed Jesus.
As soon as Peter heard John say “It’s the Lord” he put his clothes back on and jumped into the water, strange most of us take our clothes off to jump into the water! The Greek translation makes it clear that Simon Peter was fishing naked. Strange fellow is our Simon Peter, sounds a bit like a Monty Python sketch doesn’t it, ‘the naked fisherman’ it was a good job he was using nets & not hooks, they are painful when you get one stuck in your finger! Maybe he was going straight out afterwards and didn’t want his clothes smelling of fish. When I was at school a boy in my class, Colin Fenn had a dad who was a fishmonger and we named him Colin Pen instead of Fenn, get it Pen & Ink, stink. Oh boy I’m not kidding, nobody would sit next to him.
Peter covered up to save embarrassment and show respect to his Lord. I think all of us if caught naked get embarrassed. In my youth I used to be in the scouts and one year we entered a float in the carnival, (OHP) the theme being a circus as we had just done a gang show and had a lot of circus type costumes on hand. I was the world’s strongest man. I wore a leotard and lifted a massive set of weights which were mad out of plywood! I was surprised at the reaction of the crowd, although we had worked hard on the costumes & float I didn’t expect so many of the crowd to point and laugh. It wasn’t until we arrived at our destination after driving about 2 mile around Leyton including going past the Mayor & all his dignitaries I realized that my costume had ripped under the crutch and every time I bent down to pick up my make belief weights I was exposing myself. How embarrassing, however we did win a prize, not just on my display I hasten to add!
Although it wasn’t part of God’s original design for us to be clothed, because of sin & disobedience in the Garden of Eden we were made to cover up. In nakedness we are revealed in all our weakness. But that is what it will be like when one day we stand before God’s judgement, as we all must. It will be as if we are naked, for nothing will protect us from His gaze. However in 1 Corinthians 15 v42-44 “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body”.
Peter obviously wasn’t ashamed to be naked in front of his friends but now in Jesus view he covered up. Are there things we do which we would be ashamed of if Jesus was looking? I ran an Alpha course for a group of men some years back and as I was doing one of the talks, I got out my camcorder and a video tape and told the men that over the past 3 months I had done some secret recording of some of them, keeping a serious expression. I couldn’t believe the reaction of some of them as they really believed me. But as I explained to them although I had no evidence on tape, God knows our every move, we cannot hide. Thank God for his grace to sinners like me & you. I know the theme of Spring Harvest this year was Grace but I’m sure that they never taught, well I hope not, Grace means you can do what you like without any repercussions.
Any way let’s get back to the story. On their return to the beach Jesus had a fire going and was already cooking breakfast, grilled fish & bread, I’m sure they were ready for it after having to haul in such a load.
They all recognized it was Jesus. Up to this point I’m sure many still wasn’t sure about the resurrected Christ, maybe the two previous appearances in the upper room was a figment of their imagination or a ghost. But now on that beach as Jesus shared a meal was the evidence they needed. Ghost don’t eat! This was he risen Lord. From this moment on they were transformed back from skeptical, fearful beings to being courageous fisherman of men. Every one of the disciple apart from John would subsequently be killed for their faith!
I want to bring out a couple of points here. Jesus met them in their time of need. Like he will for us if we listen to him and allow him to minister to us. Secondly just imagine the scene as they got back to dry land. There was the Mighty Risen Savior, humbly cooking breakfast, did they rush over and bow before him in adoration? No they carried on their work counting the fish. You see, being a disciple a follower of Jesus, doesn’t mean we have to retreat into a permanent spiritual world cut off from the realities of daily life, although that can occasionally be heaven, so to speak for some. One such moment for me was actually on the very beach this breakfast took place. Because of itâs location and being the only beach if you can call it a beach (OHP) when touring the Holy land itâs one place you can be assured you are on the actual spot where it happened. I sat on this beach and cut myself off from the realities of the world and just dangled my feet in the water for about half an hour. It was a highlight of our trip as I felt & relaxed in the real presence of the Lord.
Although Jesus wants to be there in our work, home & play sometimes he remains in the background. However never forget the importance of giving him the adoration & praise that he is due.
I love the passage that follows tonight’s reading and I don’t want to talk too much about it in case someone is preaching on it soon, but after breakfast, Jesus calls Simon Peter aside and 3 times asks him if he really loved him. Simon Peter seemed to get frustrated convincing Jesus of his love for him. Jesus told him that if he really loved him he must feed his lambs. In other words to encourage, to evangelise others to discover a spiritual life in Jesus. To experience Jesus the Bread of Life.
So to summarise: Would Jesus need to be reassured about our love for him. Does our love for him manifest Christian fruit in our lives? Let us examine some of the areas I have covered tonight. Does our love for him open not only our hearts but our wallets & purses to enable the ministry of Jesus to be effective today in this church & further a field.
Does our love for him enable us to trust him completely with all aspects of our lives, even if the Holy spirit prompts us to cast our nets in another direction. Never let us be arrogant, sadly a major problem even in many churches, thinking we always get things right, without actually listening to God! Can you imagine how quickly meetings like the PCC would go if every one had actually prayed & listened to God. God is not a God of confusion and every vote would be unanimous! That is unless we cocked a deafen or stuck to our own addenda!
Does our love for him enable us to aim to live as he would have us live. None of us will ever be perfect till we get to heaven but that shouldn’t stop us make some effort to be Christ like.
Does our love for him transform us from being ashamed to confess our faith to all and become bold fishermen & women for Christ? Hey this breakfast story has given us a lot to chew on hasn’t it!
Remember I started this talk telling you about my best mate at the time Des. Well I have a better best mate now, Jesus, and when we invite him along to fish the rewards will be amazing. You know as an Evangelist I love sharing my faith and testimonies with others. But I don’t always find it easy. For instance I don’t like doing cold door knocking. I’ll stand in front of large church outreach gatherings or speak to someone on a one to one no problem. But cold door knocking, no! However on the occasions where Maggie & I have felt called to do it in various churches we have been involved with, we invited Jesus to be there with us on the doorsteps. That may seem the obvious thing for Christians to do. But what ever ministry you have or task to do, do you always spend time with the Lord asking for his anointing before jumping in! On those occasions Maggie & I have been obedient, although a little fearful at first, we have always received a real blessing.
Just remember this when Jesus supplies our needs not our wants it comes in abundant measure. When he started his earthly ministry the first miracle he did was turning water into wine in abundant measure we are told now as we read in today’s reading at the end of his time on earth, again he delivered in abundant measure, the nets were at breaking point. Jesus will still bless in abundant measure from on high if we invite him into our lives and every situation.
I believe we are privileged to be here at St Chad’s at a special time as the fields are ripe for the harvest. Thank God for the way Mel Gibson âs film has rocked the boat so to speak. I believe the Lord wants to pour out in abundant measure, gifts & blessings to enable us to be better at fishing for souls (OHP) and I don’t mean soles. Before we do that I want to pray for us as a church. Maybe you feel inadequate or fearful in serving God. Maybe some of you need to hear where you are to cast you nets of service, some may be at that point of giving up, disillusioned, frustrated or disappointed with your relationship with the Lord or the fellowship let us stand together and let Jesus meet us in our time of need. Two of satan’s biggest weapons are causing us to fear and to divide and conquer! Although he will never be the victor oh boy has he won a few battles over the years!
Lets pray: Father God, we thank you for all the gifts you have & will give us. We thank you for your word both written & given through prophecy & visions but most of all we thank you for your son Jesus who meets us in our time of need. Thank you Jesus for your willingness to die that barbaric death so that we could be set free and that in doing so the Holy Spirit would be given to us. Holy Spirit we love you, we welcome you, come amoungst us now as you did in Human form to those fisherman on the beach and met their needs. Anoint us for ministry take away any fear, apprehension or feelings of inadequacy or unworthiness. Your church here is a body made up of many different parts help us to work in unison to serve you and bring you glory. Lord I pray for anyone here who is unsure of their part to play here at St Chad’s just speak to them now show them their role in the ministry of the church and let us love & encourage each other in every task you give us. Lord I pray for those who for various reasons may have a relationship problem within the fellowship, help us to give the same unconditional, undeserved love to those around us as you give to us and resolve our issues. Lord pour out now blessings & healing in abundant measure, equip & unite us for your service. Amen