Chapter 21 of the Gospel of John picks up after a series of appearances by the resurrected Jesus. First to Mary Magdalene, then to his disciples, and finally to Thomas (who was not with the disciples during the previous appearance).
The Chapter begins with a fourth appearance; this time to seven of his disciples (not all are named) while they are out fishing. We must notice a few things before explaining the first point.
First, these disciples had seen Jesus after his death; verse 1 states, “Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples.” This is not their first encounter.
Second, pay attention to what they were doing: fishing. For nearly three years they had taken a radical departure from their normal life and embarked upon the most impactful evangelistic mission with the greatest Teacher. But to them, that session had passed.
The fire within the disciples was not put out but only temporarily dimmed. They began to feel suffocated by the worries of this world and so they ran back to comfort and familiarity. Jesus knew this would happen, but he never for a second lowered the standards of what he desired for them to accomplish in His name.
“Friends, haven’t you any fish?” (v.5)
Where is the fruit of our labor? Where is the evidence that our time together has had a lasting impact? What are you doing that is truly useful; how are you building the kingdom? Friends, (15:15) those who now know my Father’s business, haven’t you any fish, where is the evidence of my resurrection in your lives?
But all our efforts to produce ‘fish’ apart from him are futile (15:5). And so we must abide and remain in him (15:4): Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some (21:6). Cast your net on me, take the narrow path and you will find some: you will find salvation, you will find love, you will find faithfulness, you will find everything that is now in part but then will be full; you will find me, Jesus.
And so their flames were reignited by an appearance of Christ. How badly do we all need these daily appearances, lest we fall into the temptation of comfort and familiarity and become unfruitful.
“Whoever has my commands and obeys them,
he is the one who loves me.”