Those Pesky Questions!

John 21:1-14

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Spanish Bluebell | London, England | April 2023

How do you feel about questions? Like ’em? Make you nervous? Put you on the defensive? Make you think? Jesus asks lots of questions. In fact Zach Zehnder authored a blog post on the subject, listing 305 questions Jesus asked. Zach observed…

Questions Jesus asked Where would you put this question, “Children, do you have any fish?”? Perhaps a bit curious. Not really open-ended; the answer was a simple yes or no. Challenging? You decide. But as is often the case with God, Jesus knew the answer to the question he asked even before he asked it. It wasn’t for his information. It was an opportunity for the disciples to acknowledge their lack of success in fishing all night. It was an opportunity to admit failure.

Many years ago I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous Open Meeting. The men around the table that night, one after another, introduced themselves, “My name is Joe and I’m an alcoholic.” A brutal admission of their failure to be able to control themselves in the area of drinking alcohol. That is the first step toward recovery: we admit we have a problem.

In the case of the disciples’ failure to catch any fish that night, Jesus’ question seems like more of an invitation than a challenge. But it is an invitation to admit their failure and lack of resources. And it became an opportunity for Jesus to show his gracious provisional power. Who would have thought it? So now, the questions I posed more than two weeks ago seem ever so appropriate.

  1. Why did Jesus appear at this time to these people?
  2. What was the impact in their lives?
  3. What do I learn from these accounts?
  4. What am I going to do about it?

Are you willing to ask these questions of yourself?

1 comment
  1. Perhaps he was saying, “I’d like some fish and you don’t have any. Catch them My way, under My direction,” as the precursory challenge to to being fishers of men. He brought the obvious fully to their attention.
    Thanks for pressing us to think! Ask! Pray! Attempt to find answers!!!
    A blessing!

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