Archives: John 21:1-19

Talk Is Cheap, Jump Out of the Boat

Today we read the breakfast on the beach, a surprisingly earthy and physical text for John to give us.

One way of describing the synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke, vs. John, the strange, outlier mystical gospel is that the synoptics tell us what Jesus did, and John tells us what Jesus means.

This text is rich with symbolism and meaning, so let’s explore it a bit.

First, we look at the numbers in the story.

The disciples, perhaps a bit overwhelmed with the recent events of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, return to what they know best: fishing.

But remember what fishing symbolizes in the gospels: evangelism.

“Come and follow me and I will make you fishers of people,” Jesus says.

And so the disciples fish all night, but they catch nothing.  Without Jesus, their labors are in vain.

And then, in the morning, Jesus comes to them.

He tells them to cast their nets on the other side of the boat, and suddenly it is near to breaking with the weight of the fish.

And John tells us exactly how many of them there were: 153.

153 was thought in those days to be the total number of species of fish that existed in the world, and Jesus had helped the disciples catch every single one of them.

This is meant to remind us that on our own, our evangelism efforts are fruitless, but with Jesus, we can touch the soul of every single person that we meet, by trusting in him and following his commandments.

153 is the first important number in this gospel, and 3 is the second important number. Continue reading

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