(Inspired by John 20:30-21:14)
“What are we even doing here?” asked an impatient Thomas to the eleven disciples and a few others scattered around the courtyard of Rock’s house in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee.
“The Master told the women that He would show Himself to us here in Galilee,” Andrew answered. “Rock’s place is the only house we know of that will hold all of us. So…here we all are…waiting.”
“This waiting is getting old,” Thomas shot back.
“Then do something productive!” Simon snapped.
“Write a book,” Matthew shot back.
“What?” Thomas asked incredulously.
“Yeah, write a book,” Matthew repeated. “Who on this earth knows more about the Master than us? Just think about it, Twin. With all that Jesus said and did, you’ll never run out of material to write about. People all over the world are going to want to know about Him. You should write a book!”
“I’m not the writing type,” Thomas returned. “I agree that a book should be written, but someone other than me is going to have to write it. You or young John should write the book about Jesus.”
“I agree with Twin,” Rock said, standing up. “I need to do something, and I’m going to do what I know. The evening is coming on. I’m going fishing.” Rock looked questioningly at his brother Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee. With a shrug of resignation, the three men rose to go with Rock.
“Could you use some help?” Philip asked as the men walked toward the gate.
“Sure,” Rock called back over his shoulder. “The more, the merrier.”
“Come with us, Nathaniel,” Philip suggested to his friend beside him.
“Well,” Nathaniel of Cana returned, “it sure beats sitting here doing nothing.”
“Hey, wait!” Thomas called after them. “I’m the one who started this. I want to come.”
As the sun dropped closer to the horizon, the seven disciples walked the short distance to the shore of the lake where Rock and Andrew’s fishing boat was moored. After lifting the anchor stone into the craft, they all put their shoulders to the keel and sides of the boat, shoving it out into the water. Once they were all on board, Rock took the tiller and directed the others to take an oar and row.
A light breeze was in Rock’s face as he steered the small craft out to his favorite fishing spot. Once there, Rock stopped the rowers and spent the next several minutes lighting an oil lamp with some coals from a small bowl that he had brought with them. When the lamp was burning brightly, he placed it inside a metal box with openings so the light could shine down on the water. He hung it on a pole on the back of the boat so that the light would draw the fish to their nets.
Without a word being said, Andrew and the two sons of Zebedee immediately jumped to putting out the nets. Rock assisted the others in rowing the boat forward to position the nets. It took some time to accomplish, but it took even more time and much more effort to haul the nets back on board. Everyone keenly felt the frustration of doing all that exhausting work and winding up catching nothing.
Rock ordered everyone to man the oars and propel the boat to his next favorite spot. On and on the process repeated itself until the worn out fishermen saw the sun starting to peek over the horizon, illuminating the boat and revealing that they had not caught a single fish with all their efforts.
“Children!” a faint voice called from the distance.
Looking to the shore a hundred yards away, they saw a man waving to them.
“Children,” the voice called again, “do you have any fish?”
Most of the men in the boat were too tired and frustrated to answer, but young John stood beside the mast and called back. “No! We’ve caught nothing!”
They all thought that would be the end of the fellow’s interest, but then the voice called back, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find a catch!”
As soon as the words reached them, Rock was quickly beside John, and together they stared hard at the man on the shore. They had both felt the little hairs on the back of their necks stand on end when they heard the familiar words.
“Drop the nets!” Rock ordered. “Drop them off the right side—NOW!”
Responding to the urgency in Rock’s voice, everyone jumped to their feet, grabbed the nets, and began tossing them over the right side. Only two-thirds of the large net was in the water when a powerful pull hit the small boat. The sudden lurch caused Philip and Thomas to lose their balance and tumble to the deck.
“What is THAT?” James yelled from where he had grabbed the mast to keep from falling.
“IT’S FISH!” Andrew yelled back as he looked over the side at the boiling water. “Lot’s of ‘em! An’ they’re HUGE! There’s no way we’ll be able to lift the net into the boat without tearing it!”
On hearing this, Rock and John turned and stared at the distant figure on the shore. Young John leaned close to the big fisherman and said, “It’s the Lord!”
Rock nodded his agreement. Snatching up the tunic that he had removed for work, Rock dove off the boat and churned the water with powerful strokes toward the shore.
On hearing the splash, everyone turned. John pointed toward the figure on the shore and said again, “It’s the Lord.”
“Man the oars!” Andrew called. “We’ll drag the net to the shore.”
When they arrived, they found Jesus and Rock beside a charcoal fire. Fish were already grilling on it, and few loaves of bread were warming on a rock close by. “Bring some of your catch,” Jesus called loudly as they arrived, “and we’ll have a feast.”
Immediately Rock ran to the boat as it grounded on the beach and grabbed the full net. Pulling the loose ends over his broad shoulders, Rock dragged the heavy load to the shore and opened it.
“Whoa!” John said with an excited laugh as he finished counting the fish. “Our families are going to love this…one hundred and fifty-three big ones! Just wait till Father gets these to market!
“So, Lord,” John called, “did You know the fish were there, or did You command them to swim into our net?”
Jesus looked at his young friend and just smiled. “All of you, come and eat breakfast with Me,” the risen Lord said loudly.
As they sat around the fire, Jesus served each of them pieces of fish on bread. As the Lord handed them their food, they couldn’t keep from touching Jesus. In response, the Lord smiled at them and grabbed their hand or arm to reassure them that He was really alive and with them.
“Do you know what all this means?” Jesus asked as they ate. “Because I live, you will live also. Remember what I taught you about the vine and the branches? I am in you, and you are in Me. Whatever is Mine is now yours, and whatever the Father gives Me, I give to you. This new life of Mine is the life that My Father and your Father sent Me to give you. As you look at Me, you see the revelation of what My Father has always wanted you to have. It’s a life that lasts forever. Death could not hold Me, and it won’t be able to hold you either.”
By Alan W.Harris