Let’s continue with the text. “But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about 100 yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it and bread.” Jesus made breakfast for them in His resurrected body. Imagine that scene. He starts the fire, and He puts the fish on it. Where He gets the fish, I have no idea. Then He gets bread. So, “Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have now caught’.” So, He is adding their fish to His fish, which is an interesting combination. The spiritual life is a divine-human process, it is not just one or the other. “Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.” Let go back for a moment to the text we just read from Luke chapter five, and, “The nets began to break,” but in this second fishing miracle, the net held fast. Do you see the idea there?
During this present age, my view is that we do not know how many fish we have caught. It will often appear that our nets are breaking. But, here, at the end of the age, and we see the Lord, not one fish will be lost and we will discover how many there are. In other words, in this life you will have hidden impact. You will not know the fruits of your ministry and impact on other people. It may only be one or maybe more. The ripple effect can go on and on. A fisherman, you see, catches living fish, but when he gets them, they die. That is pretty obvious. Now, let’s take the opposite. We are called to catch dead fish. Ephesians 2:1 says, You were dead in your trespasses and sins.” So, we are called, unlike the other kind of fishermen, to catch dead fish and when we do, they are made alive. They are made alive in Christ. There is a significant contrast between one and the other.
Now, as I said before, probably seven out of the twelve disciples were fishermen and let’s look at some of the qualities of fishermen, especially at that time. They know how to work. They had courage to go out into deep water. They also had much patience and persistence. They knew how to cooperate with one another. They were skilled in using the equipment as well as in handling the boat. Now, in my mind, those are good examples for us to follow as we seek to catch fish for Christ. That is to say, have the courage and the faith to go out into the deep, patience and persistence, co-operating with one another, and to be skilled in knowing the objections that people raise and for looking for opportunities. And, you need to know your ‘equipment’. So, I am suggesting that verses one through eleven highlight this idea of obedience and particularly within the context of evangelism.
Now, let’s move on and take a look at verses 12 to 17. Here we are going to see that we are shepherds. The real issue here is also going to be related to the issue of love. So, there is a change here, from being fishermen, to moving into the realm of the shepherd or having a pastoral impact on other people. These are some scenes that would be very reminiscent of Peter. In verse 12, “Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast’. None of the disciples ventured to question Him, ‘Who are You’? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.”
So, Jesus makes their breakfast and then he feeds them. It is the idea that He is shepherding them and they are called, in turn, to shepherd others. Now we have this interesting commentary. “When they finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than those’? He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You’. Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’.” Let’s note some things that would be reminiscent to Peter in this text. The first thing would be the catch of fish. That is pretty obvious. The second thing would be the feeding of the multitudes. But, the thing that I think most affected him was the charcoal fire. Why that? Because it was at a charcoal fire that he denied the Lord, in John 18:18. Now, think about that.
Let’s go back to that text so you can have it fresh in your minds. “Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves, and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself.” We know that it was in that context that he denied the Lord three times. Now, I want to tell you, that when you see something like that, it can have a huge impact on you. His emotions, his denial, and even though we know this, Jesus had actually had a contact with him previously. If you go back to Luke 24:34, we are given the statement that Jesus apparently had encountered Peter before this particular event, up in Galilee. So, in that verse we see, “The Lord has really risen and appeared to Simon.” This was prior to them going north up to Galilee.
So, Jesus did appear personally to Simon. Sometimes you are given the impression this is the first time Jesus talked to him. I don’t think that is the case. Also, if you go to chapter 15 of 1st Corinthians, again you have the same notion here. In verse five we see, “After that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” Cephas is another name for Peter and so He appeared to him before He appeared to the twelve. My own view here is that Peter had already met privately with Jesus and had dealt with the issue of Peter’s sins. But, Peter had denied the Lord publicly, and therefore it may have been public restoration that was required. My own thinking here is that a sin should be dealt with only to the extent that it is known. Private sins should be confessed in private; public sins confessed in public. I think sometimes people miss that idea. It depends upon the arena of influence.
In any case, there is a kind of healing that takes place. For the three times that Jesus was denied by Peter, it is three times that Jesus commissions Peter to take up the mantle of being a shepherd of the sheep. You see the idea? That is not an accident. For each denial, there was an affirmation, which is very comforting to me. In my view there can sometimes be an issue of the healing of our emotions. Frankly, when we go through a painful experience, Peter would immediately have that kind of connection. You recall that Luke also mentions something that is very poignant and that is not mentioned in the other Gospels. At the very moment that Peter denied our Lord, Jesus was being led out and their eyes met. When they looked at each other at that pregnant moment, Peter wept bitterly. You see that idea? You have to connect all this together to see that he is wrestling with this very issue. There is a need for healing, then, that is implied in this text, and I know we can all relate, if we don’t need healing now there was a time we needed healing!
Now, it is intriguing to me here that there are three invitations in the fourth Gospel. The first of those invitations is found in John 1:39. Jesus offers three invitations in this Gospel. In verse 39, His first encounter with the disciples, “He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see’.” His question was, “What do you seek?” I have told you before that is an incredibly important question. The first question that Jesus is recorded as asking is, “What are you looking for?” Can you imagine how significant that question is if you look at that issue? What you are looking for will determine what you find. Then if you go with me to chapter 7, verse 37, a second invitation is made. “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” So, it is an invitation to “Come to Me and drink.” And finally, the third invitation is in our text, “Come and have breakfast.” And so, there is the overall idea of “See where I am staying,” and “Come and drink,” and “Come and eat.” There is an intimacy of communion here, and table fellowship is always a critical theme in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation.
The idea of a covenant meal had huge import and that would often be done in a way to confirm a relationship, or covenant, that would be made. One of the most intriguing chapters in the Pentateuch is where the 70 elders went up on the mountain with Moses. What happened there? These elders went up on the mountain to meet with the Lord. And there, it says, they ate and drank before the Lord. Isn’t that intriguing? Where did it come from? God provided it for them; they were not planning to eat up there. But, it says right there that they ate and drank before the Lord. It is this true idea of intimacy. What does Jesus promise? “I will not drink from the fruit of the vine until I drink with you anew in My Father’s Kingdom.” There is also the image, in Revelation 19, of the marriage banquet and the feast of the Lamb. There are all these images that run through the Scriptures, so this is a very significant indicator that this is a powerful closure, a covenant meal, that is taking place in this regard.
Of course, the other important one was the Last Supper. As we look at this here, I see something interesting vis a vis Peter’s spiritual needs. Before he cares for his spiritual needs, he takes care of his physical needs, to dry off, get warm, and to satisfy his hunger. My own view is that the spiritual is more important that the physical, but caring for the physical can prepare the way for a spiritual ministry. That is to say, our Lord does not emphasize the soul at the expense of the body. I am very much a believer that there is a need for social action as well as the Gospel, and I believe they should be connected when we are involved in feeding the poor. In my view, I would not want to be involved in merely making people comfortable on the way to a Christ-less eternity. You see my point there?