Coney Hill Baptist Church

Demonstrating God’s Love Together

Fishing Friendship

From Doubters to Disciples:

Fishing and Friendship

John 21:1-14

1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3"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.

 4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

 5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
      "No," they answered.

 6He 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.

 7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

 10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught."

 11Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.



What are they doing?   This was the first outdoor appearance after Easter, but had these disciples gone forwards, or backwards?  Were they embarking on their first tentative steps of a new life, a new mission, or retreating back to their old, familiar ways.

Perhaps it’s deliberately ambiguous, maybe its still ‘up in the air’, possibly they could go either way … so could we.


An Empty Darkness …

Even if it was an innocent fishing trip, and not their turning their backs on a life of discipleship, the ‘nothingness’ which accompanied them (‘that night they caught nothing’ - v.3) was not a good feeling.  They would have expected to catch something – this was what they were good at! 

It must have increased their, doubts, amplified their questions, just like when we see our best intentions thwarted. When not only are our hope dashed but the things we might expect, take for granted even, don’t go our way. 


A New Dawn…(v.4) 

A light begins to break through the darkness, hopeful, yet still a little hazy and confused.  Echoes of that earlier dawn, a few weeks before.       

The light would have grown a little stronger when they heard the stranger speak.  An affectionate greeting…’friends’ (v.5), appearing to know somehow of their failure, yet seemingly already being reassuring about it…

Then, a miracle…perhaps, or just wise advice, whatever it transformed the evenings work and set the scene for a far more pleasant breakfast. 

Sometimes, when things go well, or get better … we still struggle to see God’s hand in it … putting it down to coincidence or, just one of those things.

For Peter, John and the others though this fishing trip will have brought back memories of a previous event (Luke 5) … the reason why they gave up everything, fishing included, to follow this Jesus.  Characteristically, John’s quick insight ignites Peter’s quick action ….  again evoking memories of his ‘getting out of the boat’ in Matthew 14.   Once again they had made their decision – they were going to follow this, now resurrected Jesus.  


A Fireside Breakfast… (v.9f)

The fireside setting is a place for teaching, drawing out the meaning of what has just happened. There are few words, but in their adding their catch to his already cooking food, his hospitality, and bread breaking .. echoing feeding of 5,000 as well as their last meal … they would know, that however they had felt in the middle of the night, now they were disciples indeed.  It was a meal that fed much more than their hunger after a nights work.  It reassured them that their original calling, despite all the doubts of the night, was still the only way for them to go.



"They are coming to grips with the resurrection, but they

still have not learned the profound truth that apart from

Christ they can do nothing."


This week, how often will we struggle – grappling with things that we think are our ‘own business’? 

How many times will we hear a faint cry from the shore reminding us that our faith can play a part, even in this?

How frequently will we allow ourselves to be helped, fed, cared for by the one who we know to be still alive … if only we can see him.