1 After this, Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed Himself in this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them. “We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore. However, the disciples did not know it was Jesus. 5 “Men,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?”
“No,” they answered.
6 “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” He told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. 7 Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea. 8 But since they were not far from land (about 100 yards away), the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. 10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus told them. 11 So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish—153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. None of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead. 15 When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”
“Feed My lambs,” He told him. 16 A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.”
“Shepherd My sheep,” He told him. 17 He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?”
Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.”
“Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. 18 “I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” 19 He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!” 20 So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them. That disciple was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to betray You?” 21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord—what about him?”
22 “If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.” 23 So this report spread to the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not tell him that he would not die, but, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” 24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
After this, Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias.
“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” —Albert Einstein
You’ve experienced this kind of insanity, haven’t you? Whether it’s typing in the same password 17 times and shouting at the website when it rejects it every time, or leaving at the same time every morning and being completely amazed that traffic is bad again today.
Our stress levels rise and our patience quickly disappears when we try the same thing over and over again, somehow hoping this time the result will be different. We experience a slow, annoying feeling of insanity.
I’m not an expert on fishing practices during Bible times, but I wonder if Peter and the other apostles experienced this same slow, annoying feeling of insanity the night they went fishing—all night long—and caught nothing.
Throw the net overboard. Drag it in. Empty. Throw it again. Drag it in. Still empty. Again. Empty. Again. Empty. Hour after hour after hour.
The disciples knew what they were doing. I’m certain they used all of the expertise they had gained as professional fishermen to bring in the fish that night, and yet nothing happened. Despite doing everything they knew to do, they got zero results.
At the end of the night, bone-tired and frustrated, they still had nothing to show for their work but empty nets. Then, something amazing happened. Jesus, the risen Savior of the world, stood on shore and called out advice to them: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you’ll find some” (John 21:6).
I don’t know if they were too tired or too desperate to argue, but they did as He said. And sure enough, when they pulled in their net, it was so full of fish they couldn’t even pull it back in!
John 21:4 tells us they didn’t know the man on the shore was Jesus. I’m not sure why they followed His advice, but when they saw the results, they figured it out—fast.
They knew the wise advice had come from Jesus. Only He could’ve orchestrated results like that. Only He could’ve given them that kind of perfect guidance when all of their human wisdom had failed.
If you’ve been a Christian for a long time, you might think you already know how you’re supposed to respond in most situations, what you’re supposed to think and feel, and exactly what God has to say about your current struggles.
But are you relying on your own Christian expertise and experience or have you asked God for His wisdom? Are you trying to do it your way or submitting to His? Are you digging into His Word for truth, pleading through prayer for wisdom, and listening with a submissive spirit to His direction?
“Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias” (John 21:1).
While the disciples were using their own human wisdom in an area where they were experts and doing what they thought best, yet coming up empty handed, Jesus revealed Himself to them. It was only when they followed His wisdom, and not their own, that they experienced results beyond their wildest expectations.
In Ephesians 3:20, Paul reminds us that God “is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think.” He did it for the disciples fishing that day, and He can do it for you.
Today, set aside what you think you should do and what you think you should say. Instead, ask God to guide you with His perfect wisdom. He just may challenge you to cast your net from the other side of the boat, the side that’s beyond your own human wisdom, the side that requires complete trust in Him.
- Are you trying to do the same thing over and over and getting disappointed with the results?
- According to John 21, what should you do differently?
- When has God given you wisdom? Did you follow it? What were the results?
- What keeps you from asking God for wisdom and/or direction?
- In what area of your life will you set aside your own agenda and experience to submit to God’s leadership?