Sermon on John 21:1-14
Text: Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, 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. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
I think that we have all had those “Aha” moments. It may have been when we were in school and were not able to understand how to do something. The teacher or a classmate or a parent may have explained it to us in a way that we could understand. All of a sudden, the light went on. Aha. We got it. It may have been when you were looking for a hidden figure in a picture. You searched and you searched, but you couldn’t find it. When someone pointed it out to you, it was so easy to see. Aha. Maybe, you saw someone whom you thought you knew, and when you visited with them, all of a sudden you realized exactly who it was. Aha. This morning, you might say that we have an “Aha” moment for the disciples. As John pointed out to Peter, “IT IS THE LORD.” We see him 1. Revealing Himself In His Concern, 2. Revealing Himself In His Mighty Power and 3. Revealing Himself In His Gracious Care.
Some time has passed since Jesus met with his disciples the week after Easter. At least seven of Jesus’ disciples had gone to Galilee. The reason for this is that Jesus told them that they were to go there and he would meet with them. In Matthew 28, the risen Lord said to the women who had come to his tomb, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” So the disciples had done that. They were waiting for their Leader to come and give them further instructions how they should carry out the work that he wanted them to do.
While they were waiting, Peter, whom it seems had difficulty sitting and doing nothing, said, “I’m going out to fish.” This was his life’s work before Jesus had called him to be a disciple. The other disciples who were with him said, “We’ll go with you.” Being the experienced fishermen that they were, they went out at the best time, which was at night. Yet, for all their careful planning, we read, “they caught nothing.”
When it became dawn, they saw a figure on the beach. It may have been that it was still too dark for them to figure out whom it was. It may have been that his appearance had changed. Whatever the reason, they did not recognize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” By the way that the question was phrased, it expected a negative answer. After the disciples replied that they hadn’t, the figure on the beach told them to let their nets down on the right side of the boat. For whatever reason, the disciples did as they were told. As soon as they did, we read, “they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” It was then that John had his “Aha” moment. He had seen this before when Jesus called Peter, James and John to be his disciples. Then, too, they had not caught anything that night. Then, too, Jesus told them to let their net down on the other side of the boat. Then, too, they caught so many fish that it threatened to break the net. John said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” At this, impetuous Peter, wrapped his cloak around himself and jumped into the water. He wanted to see Jesus as soon as possible. The rest of the disciples came, dragging the net full of fish to shore.
What was it that brought John to the realization that it was the Lord? In reality, it already started when Jesus asked them if they had caught any fish. It may seem like a simple enough question. However, in doing so, Jesus was showing his concern for them. He cared how they were doing. It really is amazing that the Lord of all should be concerned whether or not they had caught some fish.
It is also just as amazing that the Lord is concerned with my life, as well. Here I am, one among the billions of people who have ever lived on this earth. What I am encountering in my daily life is not that spectacular that it would make someone sit up and take notice. Yet, I know that Jesus is concerned with what is going on in my life. For proof of that, I need only to look at the cross and see his amazing love for me there. I rightly deserved to be punished for all eternity because of my sins. I have worried about how things are going to work out, rather than trusting in God for the answers. I have sinned by trusting in things more than God. God has not always been the number one priority in my life. I believe that we can all plead guilty of these sins. For all these sins, as well as all of the others, we should spend our eternities in hell.
However, Jesus showed his concern for us by coming to the earth to be our Savior. He lived the perfect life in our place. He trusted that God would provide for all of his needs. Then, to pay for our sins, he suffered and died on the cross. He took our place, suffered our punishment by his death. Then, as we celebrated just a few weeks ago, Jesus rose from the dead. He was so concerned for my eternity that he did everything so that I might be saved. Since this is the case, we can be sure that he is also concerned with my everyday life, as well. As an illustration, Jesus once said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.” (Matthew 10:29) Jesus reveals himself as our Lord in his concern for us.
Jesus further revealed himself as Lord when he performed the miracle of the many fish that were caught by the disciples. One minute, there was nothing. Now they had so many that the net was full. The details of the day are fixed in John’s mind, because he even remembered that there were 153 large fish, the keepers. When they made it to shore, they saw, “a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.” Where had the fish and the bread come from? Jesus used his almighty power to provide this meal for his disciples.
Jesus continues to use his almighty power to help us, as well. It could be that, if we were in need, Jesus could simply have the fulfillment of that need appear. Yet, to say that this is the only way in which Jesus reveals himself as Lord, would be to short change his power. We see evidence of his power every single day of our lives. Perhaps, it is because we are so used to them that we have taken them for granted. For example, the fact that seeds that are planted into the ground sprout and become plants. Many dismiss it as just a part of nature. However, if God were not working behind the scenes, that would never happen. The fact that babies are conceived and born is also a miracle of God. Without his blessing, there is no life. When he wishes for a new life to begin, it does. Just because we do not see a huge catch of fish or a meal appearing does not mean that Jesus does not continue to show that he is the Lord by revealing his mighty power.
As the disciples got to the shore, Jesus invited them, “Come and have breakfast.” Then, not only did Jesus invite the disciples, he also served as the host for the meal. “Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.” No doubt, just as the miraculous catch of fish reminded the disciples of the other miraculous catch of fish they saw, the distribution of the bread and the fish took them back to the time when Jesus fed the 5,000. Yet, Jesus, who is the Lord of all, who had just conquered sin, death and the devil, shows his love for them by serving them. He takes care of his own. He will take care of those who will go out and carry on his work in his name.
This picture also comforts us. The victorious, risen Lord, the Lord of the Church, who has all power also cares for us. He reveals himself as Lord in his gracious care. He has promised not only that we have heaven to look forward to, but also that he cares what is going on in our lives. He has promised to provide for us. That is why he tells us so many times that we do not have to worry. He knows that this is a natural tendency for us, that somehow we have to figure everything out. Yet, he says, “Do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33) We are encouraged in 1 Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Note the words, “he cares for you.” He will take care of you because he is not only the Lord of all creation, he is also your Savior. He also promises us in Hebrews 13:5, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” You never have to face anything on your own. Your Lord has promised to stand right there beside you. He does so more than just as a good friend, who is with you through thick and thin. He is right there beside you as the Lord of all. Jesus reveals himself as your Lord as he promises his gracious care in every stage of your life. How blessed we are to have Jesus as Lord.
The thing with those “Aha” moments is that they stick with you. Once you figure out how to solve that problem in school, you didn’t have to have it explained to you again. Once you found that hidden picture, you are surprised that it was so hard to see in the first place. Once you were reminded of whom that person was, you probably won’t forget the name. By God’s grace, we have had this “Aha” moment with Jesus. For many of us, it was when we were too little to know what was going on in the waters of baptism. Yet, Jesus has continued to reveal himself as our Lord. He does so every time that we read about his work of rescuing us from our sins. He does so in our everyday life as we see his concern, his mighty power and his gracious care. May we never become so complacent with our knowledge of him that we stop having those “Aha” moments. When we stop and think about all that he has done for us, we cannot help but sit back in wonder and say not only, “He is the Lord,” but also ‘He is my Lord.’ Amen.
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