John 21:9 “When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them – fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.”
Jesus had been crucified, he had risen from the dead and appeared to the disciples on a couple of occasions. So now what? Things had gone quiet and some of the disciples were getting restless. Peter was especially so and said “Well I’m going fishing!” Sounds a bit like us sometimes – well me anyway. I’m not going to sit around here and stagnate. I’m going to work. I’m going to the shops. I’m going for a drive, wash the car, or mow the lawns.
From my count there were six other disciples with Peter, seven of them in total. So out in the boat they went. We are not told whose boat they took – maybe Peter had his boat moored by the Sea of Galilee – but they set out on a fishing excursion. Peter was a fisherman by trade and maybe he thought that he might as well get out and earn some money, along with his companions.
The story is very familiar however – a bit of déjà vu if you like. Out fishing all night and guess what? Not one fish. Sounds a lot like Luke 5: 1-11 when Jesus tells the disciples to go out deeper and what happened? In spite of not catching one fish the night before, the boats were so full now, that they nearly sank.
But here they were again, out all night fishing and not one fish. Dawn breaks and Jesus was standing on the beach, but they didn’t recognise him. How was that? Mary didn’t recognise Jesus at the tomb. The friends on the Emmaus Road didn’t recognise him and now once again these magnificent seven fishers don’t recognise him – well not until they follow His instructions and the nets were so full… That’s when the penny dropped for John. He remembered the big catch from before and he recognized Jesus. When he told everyone else that it was Jesus, Peter jumped ship (maybe attempting to walk on water again) and headed for the shore leaving the others to haul in the net full of fish.
So, being only a hundred yards from the shore they arrived finding breakfast waiting for them; fish cooking over charcoal - and where did he get that fish? If he was like me, he did his fishing at the local fish market. Or maybe Peter grabbed one of the fish as he jumped out of the boat? In any case there was more déjà vu here. “…fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.” (v.9). Remember the feeding of the multitude and the boy with the loaves and fishes (John6)? Remember the denial by Peter in the high priest’s courtyard - warming himself by the charcoal fire (John 18:18)?
Jesus had his subtle little reminders that it was him. Fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread!
Does Jesus do that for us sometimes? He has been with us in the past and helped and provided for us. Then other things happen in our lives. Jesus appears. We may not see him or recognise his presence with us, until… until we see something familiar again and we know the Lord IS with us.
What ever we may face today, look to the shore. Jesus may be there cooking breakfast for you, whatever the fish, the charcoal fire or the bread may be for you.
Thank you, Lord, for always being there for us, whatever we face today in our world, in our homes, at our workplaces, at our schools and in our church. Forgive us when we do not recognise your presence or doubt that you will be there for us. Help us always to remember you and be reminded of your presence with us no matter where we are. May we always call on your name and follow your leading.
In the wonderful, holy name of Jesus, we pray.
And all of God’s people said… Amen! Praise the Lord!