Rev Nutan Suray
Jesus said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” John 21 : 1‑14
Jesus recognised a weakness in the disciples that needed strengthening, and an unnurtured potential for glorifying God’s kingdom. Undoubtedly, Jesus knew what kind of complex person Peter was. Since the initiation of his discipleship, Peter correctly identified Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16 : 13) and was unhesitant in proclaiming his love for Jesus even if he had to die. (Matthew 26 : 33‑35). Many of Peter’s actions were met with gentle appreciation and firm rebuke from Jesus.
After the crucifixion, the still-mourning disciples – now hiding and secluded – felt hopeless. They had neither courage nor direction to face the world. As skilled professionals in their own rights, the disciples reached a crossroads in their lives: either return to their former lives, or remember Jesus’ promise and await a new mode of faithful living. Both options were costly, and ultimately it was under great pressure and dwindling faith that Peter must have said that he would rather go back to fishing than doing nothing. The rest of the disciples were doubtless left with no option than to follow him (John 21 : 3). The chapter then turns to the conversation between Jesus and Peter, by the Sea of Tiberias. When the disciples emerged from isolation, they were clearly still enslaved to their old habits and intentions, failing to explore new avenues to start afresh.
John says ‘So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing’. How could they not catch a single fish? They worked hard the whole night, using tried and tested methods only to see failure. On that morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realise that it was Jesus. Knowing their failures, Jesus offers a possibility that would transform their mind, initiating conversation when the disciples failed to recognise him. ‘He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”’ But they responded: “No.”
In the midst of helplessness, Jesus reminds the disciples of their calling as fishers of men. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find fish.” (John 21 : 6). And they heeded Jesus’ advice. So ‘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!”’ Their deference was rewarded with the abundance of fish. (John 21:10‑11). After all the hard work, they had a seaside breakfast prepared by Jesus himself and they recognised him as the Risen Lord. This shows that a mission driven without Jesus always fails. But submitting to his words always produces fruit. When Jesus re-joined them with his providence, the disciples’ fellowship evolved to be a different fellowship for His glory.
All these years, we have been like the disciples: fishing the whole night, frustrated with our luck. The pandemic has brought us to the breaking point, enabling us to spread our fishing nets beyond our lakes. As we begin another Methodist year, we must find those with hidden gifts and potentials for God’s mission. The Lord is speaking to us about new possibilities. He encourages us to commit irrespective of skills or backgrounds, as long as we love the Lord, and are willing to open up for the new ministry for God’s glory.
Keeping you all in my prayers
Rev Nutan Suray