A Reward for the Fisherman and the Shepherd

Let’s think about the final event the apostle John wrote in his story of Jesus. It’s interesting that he used a similar scene to the one he described near the beginning of his gospel.

The first was on the beach when Jesus called Simon Peter to follow him. The last was when the discouraged Peter had gone fishing again and Jesus appeared with his final call: ‘Follow me’. On the earlier occasion, Jesus told Peter (the natural fisherman) that he would make him a fisher of men. At the last one, on another beach, he commanded him to be a shepherd.

Between these ‘bookends’, Peter walked with Jesus. We have many examples of the larger-than-life Peter! He often showed his love and dedication to his Master, but missed it at important times and needed to be rebuked, straightened out, and forgiven.

Some people have made a big thing about the number of fish in the last story. Maybe there’s nothing special in the figure 153, but after those three-and-a-half years, John still remembered how many there were! In the earlier event, he mightn’t have been able to count them because the nets were beginning to break. But this time, the net held. Perhaps Jesus was reminding them, and us, that he wants to keep all the fish whom his Father has given him; he loves each one. After all, he’d once said to his Father,

‘I didn’t lose one of those you gave me…’  ~ See John 17: 12, 13 and 18:8, 9

After the meal on the beach, Jesus had a chat with Peter. He reminded him that it would be because of his love for his Master that he’d be able to fulfil his calling.

And so it is with us: our calling depends on our love – not primarily the love we have for God’s children, but our love for him.

Here’s a song I wrote about this story from the 21st chapter of John’s Gospel. (Sorry, friends, no music, but I did sing it once at Communion as I played the piano!)

He’s Prepared a Miracle

A group went out to catch some fish; they toiled all night for naught.

Their net was limp, their bodies tired, their hearts with sadness fraught.

They didn’t know their Lord was near, or guess what He had done:

He’d prepared a miracle to feed them in the dawn.

*

The sun came up and Jesus stood beside the water’s edge.

They did not know it was their friend, ’til – ‘It’s the Lord!’ John said.

They hadn’t known that He was near, or guessed what He had done:

He’d prepared a miracle to feed them in the dawn.

                                                                             *

Jesus gave to them a catch that far outweighed their net.

But ev’ry fish was counted in: one-fifty-three – all kept!

Remembering the other time, they knew what He had done:

Wondrous was that miracle, He fed them – every one!

                                                                          *

He’d lit a fire and cooked some fish; a loaf He had right there!

‘Bring some of yours’, He said to them, ‘we’ll have enough to share’.

They saw His hands around the food: the broken fish and bread,

Like the time before he’d gone to suffer in their stead.

                                                                          *

Afterwards they gathered round to hear what He would say.

‘Oh Simon, do you love Me more than these ones standing by?’

‘I do, my Lord. You know I do’. ‘Then feed My lambs and sheep.

One day you’ll not be free,

but led unwillingly;

follow Me’.

                                                                          *

‘You’ll always know that I am near. I’ll show you what I’ve done:

I’ve prepared a miracle to greet you in the dawn!’

 Lyn Thiele

 

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