“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.” John 21:4
He came to them by the Sea of Tiberias when they had lost their way. Fishing was their specialty before the Carpenter of Nazareth turned their worlds upside down and called them to leave their boats behind. This familiar lake in the region of Galilee was appealing and safe, and safe sounded like a good idea now that their Master was no longer around.
Christ came to the disciples where they were, frustrated fishermen dragging empty nets and downtrodden hearts. By this very body of water Jesus had demonstrated his power when they traversed the countryside for three astonishing years. Now they were fishing once more, doing what they had always done before he made them “fishers of men.”
Jesus had not come to berate them for running away like frightened mice when he had desperately needed them. He had not come to give a lecture on why they should have known better, should have paid attention to the dangers he had often warned them about. They were oblivious when he explained everything that would unfold, all the horrible details that would take place in Gethsemane and at Golgotha. But he had not come to scold them now.
Rather, he spoke as a gentle father with tender concern. “Children, do you have any fish?” Let me help you again. Let me express my love in a way that makes sense to you. “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some” (John 21:6).
The fish swarmed into their waiting nets the way fish overflowed from Christ’s hands on the hillside as they watched him miraculously feed five thousand men. He was good at feeding the hungry, good at filling empty hearts, and when they came to shore he had breakfast waiting. The miraculous haul of fish would always remind them he was the God of limitless power; the breakfast would show he understood all about ordinary needs.
Jesus is like that still. He shows up in our lives to demonstrate his power in the middle of our impossible places and to provide simple blessings that reveal his extraordinary love for us.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell