Have you ever had something revealed to you that changed your perspective and possibly even your life? In John 21, Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples, and it is meant to change their life.
Jesus reveals Himself to the disciples to clarify their dependency, identity and mission in Him.
As we walked through John 21, there are two distinct settings: the sea and the shore. Each of these set the stage for Jesus to reveal serious and significant needs for the disciples. But it isn’t simply for the disciples, this text has great bearing on future disciples, you and I, and what it is to follow Jesus.
1. The Revelation on the Sea: v.1-8
In this first setting, the disciples are together and they decide to go fishing. After a whole night of fishing, they’ve caught a whopping zero fish! These guys are pros. If you’ve ever fished with a great fisherman, you know how they can almost magically make fish appear. . But the disciples caught nothing! As day breaks, a figure appears on the shore asking them if they have any fish? I’m not sure what’s worse, not catching fish or having to admit to others that you haven’t caught any fish. But they confess they have no fish, and then Jesus tells them to put the net on the other side of the boat. As they do, their net pulls and tugs with fish! At this moment, John realizes that it’s the Lord, and Peter jumps into the water to get close to Jesus!
How does this revelation help us to understand our mission? First, it reminds us that Jesus initiates on our behalf. He comes to the disciples, He speaks to them, He provides fish! Jesus is the one that is initiating on our behalf before we ever move toward Him. This is crucial, because it gives us confidence knowing that Jesus does this not only in salvation, but in every aspect of life. Second, it reminds us that we are the children of God. This is about our identity in Jesus. You are a child of God! That is where our identity is to be rooted. Where have you been finding identity? If it’s outside of Jesus, it has been taking a beating lately. Our identity is rooted in who we are in Christ, which is a child of God. Third, it reminds us that Jesus is our source of provision. The absence of fish highlighted the greater absence, Jesus. Jesus is the provision that we need!
2. The Revelation on the Land: v.9-14
Upon coming to land, the disciples are invited to partake in a breakfast with Jesus. He has already provided a meal and invites them into fellowship with Him.
How does this revelation help us to understand our mission? First, it reminds us that Jesus invites us into fellowship with Him. This meal indicates the fellowship that we share with Jesus. This is crucial because often we think of mission as doing, tasks, work. That’s certainly part of it, but so is relating and communing with Jesus. In this season that has stripped away our ability to do so much, are you using this time to draw into deeper fellowship with Christ? Second, it reminds us that Jesus invites us into meaningful work. When Jesus asks the disciples to bring the fish they caught, He’s placing great value upon their work. We get to share and participate in the work of Christ. That’s an incredible truth of what God gives to us. He lets us serve alongside Him in fulfilling His kingdom purposes! WOW! Are you investing yourself into Kingdom work? Third, it reminds us that Jesus gives us reminders of His faithfulness. These seemingly minor details of 153 fish and the condition of the net seem innocuous at first. But when you realize that John is writing his gospel decades after the fact, to remember these items speaks to the ways that this episode is imprinted on him. He remembers the incredible faithfulness of Jesus then, and it serves to give him confidence in the continued faithfulness of God in the future. That’s a word we need today! To be reminded of God’s previous faithfulness to bolster and strengthen us today in the future faithfulness of God. Let this be a reminder for you of God’s faithfulness. Further, this season and what is currently unfolding now, may be the very thing that 30 years from now is still reminding you of God’s faithfulness to you because how God chooses to work is so deeply imprinted upon you.