John 21:1-6 (NIV)
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.
The disciples were back in Capernaum on the shores of the Sea of Galilee because Jesus had instructed them to meet Him at a nearby mountain. (Matthew 28:7, 16) After the meeting, they were still waiting for instructions to go back to Jerusalem, but no word had come to them yet.
Since they were back in familiar surroundings, with boats that he owned right down near the shore, Peter decided to go fishing. Not only would it relieve the tedium of waiting, it could provide them all with a bit of money from the catch.
But the fishing trip was a bust. Fishing was done in the nighttime, with torches or lamps hung on the sides of the boat to draw the fish into the nets. Peter and the two sons of Zebedee were professional fishermen who knew the ropes well. But as the eastern sky lit up with the approaching dawn, they had nothing to show for their efforts.
As the day grew lighter and they were folding their nets, they saw a man on the shore next to a fire. And He called out to them. The tenor of His question was presumptive: “You don’t have any fish, do you?” It was as if He knew that their whole night had been fruitless (or fishless!). When they replied, “No,” His advice was unorthodox to say the least: “Cast your nets on the right side of the boat (as opposed to the left side as usual).”
Though the sun was now up and the window for the best fishing was closed, they decided to try one more cast, following the advice of the man on the shore – what did they have to lose? But they didn’t imagine the catch of fish that was in their nets when it came time to haul them in. It was huge!
Father, thankfully, in their more than three years with Jesus these men had learned that blessings could flow from unexpected places, and they didn’t argue against the suggestion as Peter had at the beginning (Luke 5:4-5). And they were richly rewarded. Lord, help us to obey You completely, even when Your suggestions defy common knowledge or popular opinion, so that we can receive the unexpected blessings that stem from that solid obedience. Amen.
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