“‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat…’
They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul
it in because of the great number of fish.”
John 21:5-6, NAS
My dad and I would sometimes walk down to the pier near our home early in the morning and ask the fishermen how they were doing. “Are they biting,” my father would ask? The weathered old men would respond with a nod or a quick, “nope, not yet.” Their success or failure could be established by their response to my father’s inquiry. The question Jesus asks in the first part of our text was not much different than the one posed by my father, but the significance and the implications of the two encounters could not have been more different.
The disciples are confused and bewildered by the events of recent weeks and they return to what they know best – fishing. After fishing all night in familiar waters, they come away empty handed. A solitary figure appears on the misty morning shoreline and asks the familiar question. Tired, and bereft of anything to show for their trouble, the fishermen decided to try once more as suggested by the stranger, perhaps exhibiting the eternal optimism of fishermen.
They rush to the shore to be reunited once again with their friend and Lord. There he has already prepared just what their weary bodies needed – breakfast on the beach.
The way Jesus poses the question is telling. He calls them “children.” What an odd designation for a group of rough-hewn fishermen! The content:encoded seems altogether fitting when we consider the lesson He was about to teach. They learned how dependent they were on Him for their “daily bread.” They learned that He could provide for their every need regardless how dire the circumstances. They learned how much He loved them and that He cared deeply for their well-being.
QUESTION: Is your net empty? Do you worry or stress over the future? The present? Put your confidence in the one who promises to never leave nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5b)