I have a friend who has been doing a terrific job teaching through the Gospel of John in our Sunday school class each week. This past Lord’s Day we were in John 21 discussing the appearance of Jesus at the Sea of Galilee where He commands the disciples to put out their nets after fishing all night with no success (This is the second time He has done this). Here are a few additional thoughts I had concerning the following passage:
“When 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. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Notice three things. First, there were a LOT of fish. This picture of how the Lord was going to use His church to gather in a people for Himself is a glorious one. His kingdom will not be a tiny speck of land in the vast expanse of the universe. Rather, it will be filled to overflowing with saints of every time and culture worshipping the Lamb. Christ died for many not a few.
Second, there were a specific number of fish. Why would John make a point of including the exact number? Because when God is drawing in His net of salvation, He is not drawing in whatever happens to end up in the net. He is drawing in men, women, boys and girls upon whom He has set His affection. Within the sea of rebellion and destruction God set His sights upon you and did not leave your redemption to chance. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me I will never cast out.” (Jn.6:36)
Third, the net did not break. Not one fish within the multitude that were caught was lost in the retrieval. The net held strong though it was bursting at the seams. Christ’s death is strong enough to rescue you from the deepest ocean and His resurrection power is strong enough to bring you home.
Therefore, little fish, if you are discouraged by the course of this world, take heart. The saints who have gone before you and those who stand beside you are many not few. If you are doubting the mercy and nearness of God, take heart. He knows His fish by name and number. His eye and His heart are upon you. And if you are desperate in your efforts to stay within the net of grace, take heart. The net will not break. It is not your fragile goodness that holds you. It is the unbreakable goodness of Christ that will not fail.