Text: John 21:1-14

John 21 records the restoration of Peter after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Before His arrest, Christ warned Peter that he will deny Him thrice before the cock crowed (c.f. Matt. 26:34; Mark 14:30). Peter was adamant that it would not be so – “Though I should die with thee, yet will not I deny thee.” (Matt. 26:35). Nevertheless, when Christ was arrested, Peter denied any knowledge of Christ (c.f. Matt. 26:69-74). This greatly grieved the heart of Peter, who wept bitterly after his denials of Christ (Matt. 26:75).

The sorrow of Peter led him away from his call as an Apostle of Christ. Instead of waiting upon Christ, he went back to his old vocation of fishing so that his belly may be fed. Being the leader among the Apostles, some of the Apostles followed Peter immediately in his dissimulation (John 21:3). At the very same place where Christ called him away from fishing, Peter embraced his familiar ways so that he may bring food on the table.

However, despite fishing through the night, these professional fishermen were not able to catch a single fish. All their years of expertise were useless in bringing food to the table. They were helpless and desperate.

It was at this point that Christ appeared on the shore. Purposefully withholding His identity from them, He asked them a critical question – “Children have you any meat?” The answer was an emphatic, “No!” No Christ, no fish!

Christ asked them to cast their nets to the right side of the ship, just like the events of Peter’s call. However, unlike the first miracle where the nets broke because of the multitude of fish, the nets held firm this time with a catch of 153 fish. This meant that the nets were filled to their limit, which was all the more impressive considering that the boats were only 90 m (two hundred furlongs) from the shore (c.f. John 21:6)!

Why the difference? While the first miracle was meant to teach Peter the greatness of Christ, the second miracle was meant to teach Peter the importance of depending on God’s grace for service. Without Christ, Peter was not able to catch a single fish throughout the night. However, with the help of Christ, Peter was able to catch much fish at an instant.

Before the event of Calvary, Peter was headstrong, often making grand proclamations of his devotions to Christ. However, he failed to understand that one can only be faithful and succeed in the work of Christ if he walks humbly in the grace of God. Peter needed to learn this vital lesson before he can be used as the Lord’s vessel to usher in the period of the New Testament local church witness.

Similarly, we who serve the Lord today must remember that without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). When we walk close to the Lord, and do all things in God’s way and timing, God will grant us the grace to accomplish our tasks. Trust and obey, for there is no other way!

Interestingly, when the disciples arrived at the shore, Jesus had prepared the fish ready for the disciples. They were expertly barbequed by the Master of all chefs! Jesus had no need for the 153 fish which the disciples caught. As the Sovereign Lord, He can provide out of His infinite riches. It was most unnecessary of them to worry of food and return to fishing. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33). Does God not own every beast of the field and the cattle upon a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10)?

Alas, how often we fall into the cares of the world when we serve the Lord. We fret over our bread and butter, and thus pierce ourselves with many sorrows. We then try to provide for ourselves with our arms of flesh, rather than to trust in the divine provision. Little wonder there is little joy and blessing in our daily lives!

Herein also is a principle to those who desire to serve the Lord full-time in the ministry of the Word. When we serve the Lord, we must do so unconditionally. The Lord promises that we will have no lack when we rest in His divine provision. Let not the ministry which the Lord has commit-ted to us be about the meat which perisheth, nor of dollars and cents, but about the Lord’s goodness as evidenced in His loving provision.

As for Peter, he learnt his lesson well. In the book of Acts, we see how the Lord used this humble servant to establish the New Testament local church witness. And so can the Lord use us when we give our all unto Him.

The Lord will provide all our spiritual and physical needs when we humbly rest in Him. Believest thou this?

Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew