A Question I Was Asked:

Please Can You Explain John 21:1-11?

Could you please elaborate or expound upon John 21:1-11. What is the deeper meaning of this text. I would love to know what message God has for us within these scriptures. Thanking you in advance.

UK Apologetics Reply:

Okay, let us look at this:

1. Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2. Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3. "I'm going out to fish," Simon Peter told them, and they said, "We'll go with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5. He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6. He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, "It is the Lord," he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10. Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." 11. So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12. Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. (John 21:1-12, NIV throughout).

Okay, there are a few interesting points to be brought out in this account:

1. The Fish are a Type of the Souls of Men and Women.

Matthew 4:18-20 states,

18. As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 19. "Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people." 20. At once they left their nets and followed him.

2. Our Evangelistic Efforts can Accomplish Nothing of Lasting Worth Without Jesus.

Notice verses 3-5 of John 21. The disciples had gone fishing without Jesus. But when Jesus joined them He directed them to the best place to direct their evangelism:

He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. (Verse 6).

This, of course, was typical of fishing for the kingdom of God.

During the last few years an idea has developed that with sufficient money, any evangelistic campaign, or series of meetings, cannot fail. As I write, this has already been demonstrated to be completely false because there have been several failed high-profile evangelistic efforts (of course, few are prepared to admit this). It is the presence of Jesus that we need, not huge sums of money, nor gimmicks!

3. The Kingdom of God Can Give Accomodation to All Whom the Lord Calls, or Has Mercy Upon.

Notice that even with a huge catch of fish we are assured that "...the net was not torn." (Verse 11b). This is saying that there is no point at which the limit for God's kingdom has been reached. There is no "we are full up" sign to be erected. This is important to point out because the "little flock" factor (Luke 12:32) has been greatly misunderstood. The 'little flock' factor was given to warn the first Apostles that most would appear to reject their message because our God was not calling most - the great majority - to be part of the Church during most of this current age; despite this, it is clear from other Scriptures that - finally - most will eventually be saved. Consult Luke 15:2-32; Luke 19:10; John 1:9,29; John 3:16-17; John 4:42; John 6:33,51; John 12:31-32; Acts 10:1-35; Acts 14:16-17; Acts 17:23-28; Romans 2:6-16; Romans 5:6,15-20; Romans 11:12,15. 1 Cor. 15:24-28. 2 Cor. 5:14-15,19; Eph. 1:10; Phil. 2:9-11; Col. 1:20. 1 Tim. 2:4,6. 1 Tim. 4:10; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; James 1:27. 2 Peter 3:9. 1 John 2:2. 1 John 4:14; Rev. 7:9-17; Rev. 20:12; Rev. 21:24; Rev. 22:2.

Let us take a look at just one of the above Scriptures:

9. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11. and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11).

Please notice there that the text does not say something like, "..At the Name of Jesus God had hoped that every knee should bow, but unfortunately it didn't quite work out that way. It's tough, but there it is." Also note that there are no exclusions: every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth. It does not say something like, "..obviously most are in hell and this does not apply to those!"

4. We Have Real Communion with and 'Break Bread' with Jesus Christ Even Now.

Throughout this age of the Church Christians have communion with, and 'break bread' with, our Lord and Master Jesus Christ. Notice this again:

Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. (Verse 12).

In similar fashion we regularly take communion with the Lord Jesus through the bread and wine of Christian communion. He insists that we fellowship with Him regularly in this manner. As we take ciommunion we also show that we are still on course as believers, still looking forwards to that great day when we sit at the marriage supper of the Lamb:

6. Then I heard what sounded like a great multitude, like the roar of rushing waters and like loud peals of thunder, shouting: "Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. 7. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. 8. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear." (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of God’s holy people.) 9. Then the angel said to me, "Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, "These are the true words of God." (Revelation 19: 6-9).

Robin A. Brace. November 30th, 2016.