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"Miracle Catch of Fish"
John 21:1-14 - Bible Study

The Sea of Tiberias, (Galilee) is where Jesus Walked on Water, Calmed the Stormy Sea, and Fed the Five Thousand on its shores. 

It was a customary practice to fish at night and to sell the fish on the morning market. However, they had fished all night without catching even one fish.

Jesus' Miracle Catch of Fish

John 21:1-14:

Verse 1-2: "After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way."

To say that "Jesus revealed," would mean that His appearance not only offered evidence but a break-through in knowledge and understanding. 

In one of our previous studies, the "Fourfold Witness," Jesus had presented four witnesses to the Jewish leaders to prove that He was the Messiah, and they had rejected them all.

The witnesses were:

  • 1. The witness of John the Baptist
  • 2. The witness of Jesus' own works (Miracles)
  • 3. The witness of God the Father (Matt 28:20
  • )4. The witness of the Scriptures (Prophecy)

And now, after the crucifixion, He is His own best witness.

Many people, even the Jewish leaders had seen Him die on the cross; however, He is now alive again, just as He had promised. 

Jesus and a number of His disciples lived on the shores of the Sea of Tiberias, which is perhaps better known as the Sea of Galilee, (Picture).  

It was here that Jesus once again revealed Himself to His disciples.

Verse 2: "Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.

John did not give all the names, but seven of Jesus' disciples were together.

Verse 3: Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We will go with you." They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing."  

When Peter announced that he was going fishing, they decided to go with him.

Some of Jesus' disciples had been fishermen before becoming His disciples. These were professional fishermen, at least some of them were, so it must have been very discouraging.

Verse 4: "Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus."

Though Jesus was triumphantly standing on the shore, it was not yet full daylight, and the disciples did not recognize Him.

The words, "Darkest before the dawn" by Thomas Fuller are meant to be words of encouragement to those going through dark times.

These were dark and confusing times for the disciples, but Jesus is never far away, His light is always ready to break forth.

Even in the worst of times, there is always a reason to have hope if you have Jesus.

Verse 5: "Jesus said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They answered him, "No."

The One who had power over all creation, could calm the waves of the sea, heal the sick, raise the dead, and to whom nothing was impossible, was calling to them from the shore.

Jesus had often used the word "Children," and even, "little children," (John 3:33) when speaking to HIs disciples.

Matthew Henry interpreted the word used here, paidia— to say, “Lads, have you any meat?" and likens it to a father speaking tenderly to his children.

Others believe He was speaking of the disciples newly acquired relationship with the family of God, after receiving the Holy Spirit, (in our previous lesson).

Perhaps it was both, either way, there can be no doubt that Jesus was not yet through with these men and had no intention of allowing them to return to a full-time fishing business.

Verse 6: "He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish."

Most fishing nets in those days were made of rope, woven from substances like flax or hemp. The nets had a narrow end, which was pulled by the men in the boat, and a wider end, which was sunk by attached weights. (IVP Bible Background)

And, when they obeyed Jesus, they caught so many fish the boat could not hold them all.

The disciples had seen Jesus perform miracles that transformed all who were fortunate enough to be in His presence. 

Verse 7: "That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea."

Although too far away to recognize in the dim light of early morning, the miracle catch of fish caused John, "that disciple whom Jesus loved," to realize that the person on the shore was Jesus.

When Peter realized it was Jesus, he could not wait for the boat to draw closer to the shore. However, out of respect for Jesus, he did not want to arrive scantily dressed, (as was required in his work).

Men wore an inner and an outer garment, so some say that Peter "put on his outer garment," (perhaps a coat) and jumped into the water.

An "outer garment," even of medium weight would have made it extremely difficult, if not impossible to swim.

Most believe that Peter, being an experienced fisherman, who earned his living working in and near the water, would not have swum in a heavy garment.

John used the term, "en gar gymnos," paraphrased in the NIV to mean, "naked," meaning that perhaps Peter did not wear any clothing in his work and had put on a loincloth to swim to shore. 
(IVP New Testament Commentary)

Verse 8: "The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off."

Being a hundred yards offshore the water was perhaps too deep to wade, which would have required Peter to swim.

The things we know of Peter indicate that he was a very robust individual, who, though fully clothed, would have thought nothing of either wading or swimming a hundred yards. However, John does not tell us if Peter reached shore before the boats.

Verses 9-10: "When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught."

We are not told where Jesus got the bread and fish.  Here, as in chapter 6, where Jesus Fed the Five Thousand, He provides food and invites them to share their catch.

Do you think that meal was prepared to perfection, with just the right spices or sauce?

Verse 11: "So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn."

By obeying Jesus and finding more fish than they could have possibly caught any other way, means this was a Miracle Catch of Fish. The net not breaking was yet another miracle.

Many have attempted to place significance on the number 153, with the fish representing a massive influx of converts, and the unbroken net, the unity of the Church.

These details not only express how the Lord can abundantly provide, but how His provision is to be received.

Verses 12-13: "Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish."

Overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus, enriched with the realization that He was indeed the Messiah, they discreetly observed a befitting silence in His Holy Presence. It must have been an inspiring and profound breakfast.

Verse 14: "This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead."

There are no details, but according to the Synoptics, Jesus had already appeared to Peter privately,
(Luke 24:34).

This was the third time after the Resurrection that Jesus had appeared, and revealed to the disciples, that He was the Messiah.

This miracle not only blessed them with a boat filled with fish, but it also restored their hope and confidence that had been lost over the recent horrible ordeal when they had thought they had lost their Master.

This concludes our study of The Miracle Catch of Fish.

Our next study is: 

Peter is Forgiven and Restored

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