The disciples are fishing. They’ve had no luck, but someone on shore tells them to cast their nets in a certain spot and they catch a large number of fish. Realizing it was the Lord, they haul in 153 fish. They eat a silent breakfast. I suggested in my last post that the disciples were stunned and in disarray because of the Resurrection; they didn’t know what to do next. Yet here they are having a quiet meal with the very person who has disrupted their lives.
Rather than unpack the discussion that Peter has with Jesus, let’s put this episode into perspective with what the disciples know. Though John provides no specifics about what is going through their minds during breakfast, he does reveal that they all know who has prepared the meal and provided the fish.
The Identity of Jesus
With the first chapter of this Gospel as the background, the disciples must be mulling over the person who is now serving breakfast. John has told his readers that this man, called the Word in chapter one, not only was with God but was God and through this man the world was created. More than that he was the light and life of the world. I have no idea if all that was bouncing around in their heads, but I’ve little doubt that it will eventually provide the direction their lives lack at this time.
Later when the Apostles see him ascend into heaven and when the Holy Spirit falls on them, one of their motivations will no doubt come from their understanding of who Jesus is: God in the flesh. As with those who will become disciples by their witness, the identity of Jesus inspired not only confidence but a whole new vision of God. Jesus was present at creation; he became a human being; he died but came to life three days later. His authority over creation and over life and death created a motivation they could not ignore.
God Had Called Them
This was no ordinary man; this was God in the flesh. He had authority to turn water into wine, to heal the crippled, to give sight to the blind, and to bring others, including himself, back to life. How could they not be shocked into a new reality? If this was truly God who had visited earth, life had a new purpose and meaning. Believing in who he was and what he demanded from them had just begun to percolate.
Such is the effect of Jesus on all who believe. He was not just another great rabbi of Israel. He was not just another in their long line of great prophets. He was the very God who had created the world and had brought redemption for the whole world. Nothing short of this identity could have brought about the momentous changes that were later to take place because of their witness.
My Lord and My God
The witness of Thomas must have been still ringing in their ears, “My Lord and my God.” (John 20:28) Once they grasped this, nothing would ever be the same. Despite how the world now 2,000 years later has attempted to declaw this lion of Judah, that he is the creator, savior, and redeemer still demands center-stage of our lives. Eating breakfast with the disciples may have seemed a mundane event in the life of the Apostles, but it moved them one step closer the real change in their lives. It was as if they exclaimed to themselves, “Wow, all this is really true!” God had come; he is Lord.
When we also come to the realization that “Wow, this is really true,” there is nothing left but to follow that truth. And so there is a final part to my discussion of John 21: Now What Do We Modern Disciples Do? Part III.
© 2023 Robert T. Weber, The Lazarus Chronicles and Words Done Right LLC
See again the conversation on John 21 here.