For the Discouraged Fisherman

‘[Jesus] called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.’ (John 21:5)

fishers-of-menChrist the cook. Hardly would one throw this descriptor into a bag full of the popular titles of Jesus: Son of God, Messiah, Healer, Teacher, Redeemer, Savior. We can revere Healers, we do admire Teachers, we long for a Redeemer and we worship Saviors. But a cook? Why would anyone want to worship a cook? Why would I want to write songs and sing praises about a cook? (Unless, of course, that cook is my mother) Well, John did (John 21:7). He shouted over the crackling fire and the sizzling oil and praised a cook.

It was a slow morning. The cross was a fading memory and the disciples were moving on. Some chose to go back to their former professions. Peter went to do what he did best, fishing. His friends, having nothing better to do, decided to tag along. But today was a slow day, they hardly caught any fish. Then this stranger shows up from nowhere and asks for fish. Peter quickly says no, they haven’t caught anything. Maybe they had caught a fish or two, but that didn’t seem to make any difference. To a professional fisherman, one fish is as good as none.

I can’t help but wonder, how many times have you said that? Remember the time you preached the gospel to an audience of hundreds but only one person came to Christ? Or do you recall when you went to give an offering and you only had a coin in your pocket? Or when you refused to contribute to a cause because your contribution was embarrassingly minute? How many times have you neglected noble service because nobody seemed to take any notice? Well, am here to tell you that there’s one that takes notice, and He is the only one that matters. In Christ’s performance chart, it’s the effort, not the effect that counts.

Despite Peter’s persistent denial, Jesus offered a suggestion. I know you’re thinking it, but you’re afraid of saying it, so I’ll say it: it was a stupid suggestion. But I find this suggestion also interesting. Look at how John describes it in John 21:6

‘He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”

Notice that, unlike a few years back when they first met, Jesus didn’t suggest they launch out farther into the deep. He didn’t ask them to row to a different lake location. He simply told them to throw the net into the water. Perhaps He only added “the right side” to make them feel better, to make them feel “alright” 🙂 .

Peter and his buddies, having nothing else better to do, decide to obey. So they cast their nets, albeit skeptically. To their surprise, they’re almost pulled into the water by the unexpected tug. It’s a big catch, of precisely 153 big fish. And when they rowed to the shore, they found Jesus beside a fire with breakfast ready. A breakfast of bread and fish! Perhaps they wondered where he got his own fish? But by now, they already knew that this stranger was Jesus Christ. The boatful of miracles floating around their feet was all the proof they needed. Christ the cook, already had breakfast ready for them, and he still does, for us, his fishermen.

You may have committed your life to preaching, teaching and reaching out to the lost fish, but your catch is discouraging, if any at all. Does that mean you should quit? Should you change professions and maybe get into real estate or something? Is it a sign that “ministry” just isn’t for you? Triple no! Jesus reminds us that it is Him who does the convicting, it is Him who does the converting, and all He needs from me is my availability, not my ability. He will call, He will convict, He will save and He will transform.

Now, why did John bother to mention that the number of fish caught that night was 153? Why didn’t he just say “many fish”? I suggest that Christ knows the number of your fish; whether it’s one or one million, He has predestined your fish (or rather, His fish), set them apart to be tuned in to your message (His Gospel). Maybe you were just meant to reach out to one, who knows? God does. All you need to do is cast the net; again and again. He promises to be with you, to help you.

To cater for you.

Yes, He is Jesus Christ the caterer. Jesus Christ the cook. No need to be distracted or discouraged by the hot pot of disappointments, He is simply cooking up a great future for you. Catch ‘em, He’ll cook ‘em.

Do not be dismayed, He will be there to help you share, always. It’s a promise (Matt 28:20). It’s His promise.

It’s for His glory.

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