Pastor Barry/ The Gathering Church: All Things New Series #4 (“Follow Me”) Hear this message: Download our App in the App Store: Search the Gathering Connect
Catching Nothing John 21:1-7a, Mark 1:16-20, Luke 5:1-11, 2 Corinthians 5:17– 20a
After Jesus resurrected He appeared multiple times to many different people. John, in his gospel, speaks to four of these appearances (John 20:14-16, 19, 26, 21:1), but in looking at all of the gospel accounts we discover many more. We will look at all of these appearances in our upcoming series: Evidence For The Resurrection.
Before the ascension of Christ at the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem, the eleven disciples went back to Galilee ( about 70 miles north of Jerusalem) for a period of time. Then Peter and six other disciples had an encounter with Jesus while they were fishing in the Sea of Galilee.
The Sea of Galilee has been known by a number of names (Sea of Tiberius, Buḥayrat, Ṭabarīyā, Lake of Gennesaret to name a few) depending on what people ruled the area at the time. When Jesus carried out his ministry on the shores of the freshwater lake, it is likely he would have called by its Hebrew name, “Kinneret” or “The Sea of Chinnereth.” The name “Chinnereth” appears in the Old Testament in Numbers 34:11, Joshua 13:27 and Joshua 19:35, but the exact origin of that name is not known.
To go from Jerusalem to Galilee took three days of travel, if you went through Samaria. If you went around Samaria (through Perea) , two additional days would be required. The Jews and the Samaritans got along as well as the Jews and the Arabs do today. Most Jews would take the extra days on the journey.
It is worthy to note that all seven of the disciples on that fishing trip were fishermen before following Christ, so in essence all of them had decided to go back to business as usual after Jesus had resurrected. It is humorous to read “that night they caught nothing.” The disciples had obviously forgotten that Jesus had called them to be “fishers of men” (Mark 1:16-20). Jesus reminds them all of that fact when He called out to them from the shore: “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” Although they didn’t recognize Him, likely because of distance and not expecting to see Him, the “lights” went on in John’s mind when they followed His direction to throw their nets on the right side of the boat and were unable to haul them in because of the large number of fish (John 21:5-6). With that John cried out “It is the Lord!” Jesus had repeated the miracle of their first calling which had once astonished Peter, James, and John (Luke 5:1-11) and caused them to “leave everything and follow Him”. We too need to be reminded that once we follow Jesus we can no longer just go about “business as usual” or we will “catch nothing” (that is worthwhile for the kingdom). We have become “new creations” and like the disciples have been called to be “fishers of men”—”ambassadors of Christ!” God chooses to make His appeal through us to reconcile the lost to Him (2 Corinthians 5:17-20a).
“New”, we all love it don’t we? New clothes, new shoes, new home, new car… no wonder “new car smell is the favorite scent offered at car washes and detail shops. What about new life? Only Jesus Christ offers that. Only He can make all things new and there is no imitation of His real deal. He said; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus brings newness to everything He touches. Do we love Him for this new life He brings? Jesus said, “If you love me then keep my commands” (John 14:15). We are not to just be “fishing” for earthly things but to be living out the Lord’s prayer: His kingdom come, “His will be done on earth as it is in heaven”— not ours! (Matthew 6:9-13). We must also remember that it is only by His power and direction that we can accomplish this call. “Apart from Him we can “catch nothing”—”do nothing” (John 15:5), but in Him we “can do all things”! (Philippians 4:13). Christian: are you trying to go about business as usual and catching nothing? Follow Jesus and be kingdom minded.
Jumping In John 21:7b-14, Matthew 16:24-27, Psalm 34:8, Revelation 21:5
As soon as Peter heard John say “it is the Lord”, he put on his outer garment, jumped into the water and swam to the Lord. Culturally speaking, it was is not strange that Peter was fishing half naked in his underwear or that he quickly wrapped himself to respectfully meet the Lord. What is strange is that John makes note of it. At first glance we might be impressed that Peter’s joy was so great that he jumped into the water and swam to Jesus, but there is a deeper reason that John included this detail in his gospel account.
Impetuous (acting quickly without thought or care) Peter was at it again! He was “right” and ready to get back to following Jesus, yet he still didn’t really understand what it meant to follow Him. Do we? Jesus, in not so many words, explained to Peter what “following Him” is about: “Oh, Peter,” Jesus might have said, “you are so quick to dress yourself and plunge headlong into the task. That’s what we are like when we’re young, is it not? But the time will come when another will dress you and take you where you do not want to go. You won’t be getting dressed and jumping in so quickly then!” (Peter was eventually crucified upside down in Rome). This is core of the message that Jesus spoke, “You rush to meet me, but you must realize by now that following me is the way of the cross?” Jesus made this point clear when He asked Peter three excruciating times “do you love me?” (reminding Peter of the three times he denied knowing Christ: John 18:15-18, 25-27). Finally Peter gets a reality check and says: “You know all things” (“my self-centered ways); “you know (in spite of myself) that I love you.”
Jesus response to Peter’s three fold confessions of love is “then feed my lambs”, “take care of my sheep”, and “feed my sheep”. In essence Jesus said to Peter: “stop acting quickly without thought or care and be about the business of my kingdom and not your own… be a fisher of men! (capture the lost and make them into disciples) “Follow me!”
Impetuous Peter jumps ahead of his senses one last time and blurts out: “what about John?” (John 21:20-21). Following Jesus is less about what we want and what others are doing and more about where the way of the Cross takes us. “Follow me” said Jesus. These words take us to a cross (where we willfully give up our lives to follow Christ) , but that cross brings resurrection! He makes all things new! Following Jesus is not a garment that we tie about ourselves lightly. So don’t jump in too quickly as Peter so often did, but count the cost (Matthew 16:24-27). If you will, then you shall see as Peter did, that business as usual is an unacceptable proposal to one who has tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalms 34:8). His reward far outweighs any cross that we may bear. Follow…He makes all things new! (Revelation 21:5)