“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 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!” –John 21:3-7a
The disciples had witnessed Jesus’ torturous death. They had assisted in His burial. They were witnesses to His resurrection. But now, Jesus was nowhere to be found. So, what to do? Peter decides to go fishing. While that may seem a strange response to us today, before Peter became a follower of Jesus, he had been a fisherman by trade. He simply returned to what had been so familiar to him. He went fishing, and his friends joined him.
An unsuccessful night of fishing must have seemed an appropriate end to the events of the previous days. Then, at daybreak, as the weary fishermen readied the nets and the boat to come in from the sea, divinity broke into humanity. A question rose above the water from the shore. “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered, likely filled with frustration, anger, and hunger. “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some,” came the reply from the stranger on the shore. I can only imagine that this was met with mixed responses on the boat for the nets were heavy, the men were exhausted and ready to come in, and to do this would mean more work, more time on the boat with no guarantee of a catch. But, they decided to try again and their efforts were rewarded.
Is that when the pieces began to fall into place? Did Peter’s heart begin racing as memories of a similar event years ago flooded his mind? At what point did he realize that was Jesus? If you read on in this passage you’ll learn that Peter jumped out of the boat and appears to haul in the catch all by himself! He is infused with new life as he realizes the man on the shore is Jesus himself.
Once again, Jesus met Peter and the disciples in the familiar events of the day. He had done it three years previously and again on this day. So what does this mean for you? Never forget that Christ meets us in both unexpected and familiar places.