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What the Bible says about Jesus Christ's Miracles: Great Catch of Fish
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Luke 5:6-9

A large school of fish miraculously appears alongside Peter's boat just when Jesus says, "Let down your nets." Some may not view this by itself as a miracle. Yet, David writes: "You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all thingsunder his feet, all sheep and oxen—even . . . the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas" (Psalm 8:6-8). As Creator, Jesus knows where the fish are in the Lake of Gennesaret, a power Peter obviously lacks. Christ, as the sovereign Lord of the earth and its seas, could have commanded thousands of fish to leap onto shore, but He directs them into the man's net. The combination of the precise place, time, and mass of fish following Jesus' instructions qualifies this as a genuine miracle, one witnessed by many.

Note that this first miracle of fish (Luke 5:1-11) happens at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, and the second occurs near the end (John 21:3-11). Both miracles take place on the Sea of Galilee after a night of fruitless work.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: The Great Catch of Fish

Luke 5:8

This exhibition of supernatural power gave Peter proof of the Father's omniscience and omnipotence through Jesus Christ. With it comes Peter's recognition of his own appalling sinfulness, which he expresses by falling "down at Jesus' knees, saying, 'Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'" Peter realizes that he had been faithless.

Similarly, Job cries out: "I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees You. Therefore I abhor myself,and repent in dust and ashes" (Job 42:5-6). Seeing his corruption in contrast to God's holiness, the prophet Isaiah reacts with abhorrence: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts" (Isaiah 6:5). Finally, the apostle John responds in an extreme manner as well upon seeing the glorified Christ in a vision: "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead" (Revelation 1:17). Clearly, God's power is so awesome that it causes mere humans to feel as if they are coming undone.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: The Great Catch of Fish

John 21:1

On at least three occasions, Jesus directs His disciples to meet Him in Galilee after His resurrection (Matthew 26:32; 28:7, 10; Mark 14:28; 16:7). Galilee is the location of the first fishing miracle of Luke 5, where He called His first disciples: Peter, John, James, and Andrew. Not only does it invite a natural comparison between the two miracles, but it also provides a sense of completion—of coming “full-circle.” Galilee is the disciples' home, and their fishing boats are docked there. Moreover, just as in the first fishing miracle, the Sea of Galilee—also known as Lake Tiberias or Lake of Gennesaret—allowed for an intimate gathering away from the masses while providing a feeling of solace and comfort following their Savior's crucifixion.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: A Second Large Catch of Fish (Part One)

John 21:2-3

John presents the narrative without Christ commenting on the disciples' decision to fish. Though His promises to go before them to Galilee are clear, in the opening verses of John 21, we find seven of the disciples following Peter to go fishing. No casual occasion for leisure, this fishing trip is a commitment to many hours of hard work.

Obviously, these are difficult days for the disciples. They had spent most of the past three-plus years in the direct company of Jesus. Even though He informed them several times of His impending death and resurrection (Mark 8:31; Matthew 16:21; 26:2), the disciples are still deeply troubled by the former and confounded by the latter (Luke 24:36-41; Matthew 28:17). Peter is particularly distraught, still shamefaced from having denied Him three times (Luke 22:61-62; John 21:17).

Even though they are filled with joy in the presence of the post-resurrection Christ, they also realize that times are changing. They recognize that their future is more uncertain—and probably more difficult—than they desire. We can easily understand their need to engage in an activity with which they are familiar and comfortable, and which removes them from prying eyes and ears.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: A Second Large Catch of Fish (Part One)

John 21:3-5

Jesus had earlier taught His disciples, “Without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). None of His handpicked devotees was yet capable of confidently anticipating His resurrection into His natural, spiritual state (Luke 24:36-37). Therefore, uncertain of the events surrounding them, six of the disciples chose to follow Simon Peter—probably more restless and impatient than usual—onto the fishing boat. Like Peter, they were not fishing as an activity to prove their faith, but as cover for their unease and uncertainty—their lack of faith. Christ wanted to emphasize upon them that any activity they undertook without Him would be fruitless.

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: A Second Large Catch of Fish (Part One)

John 21:4-12

Verse 4 reveals that none of the disciples initially recognizes the Lord. In fact, all the disciples consistently failed to recognize the post-resurrection Christ (Luke 24:1-11, 13-16, 36-45; John 20:14). Physical and emotional circumstances notwithstanding, their failure was the result of weak faith or spiritual immaturity and the corresponding confusion and unbelief—spiritual blindness.

Following His resurrection, Christ changes (I Corinthians 15:44-45; Hebrews 6:20; Ephesians 4:9-10), but His disciples, still lacking understanding, have not. Verse 12 provides insight: “Jesus said to them, 'Come and eat breakfast.' Yet none of the disciples dared ask Him, 'Who are You?'—knowing that it was the Lord.” While they eventually figure out that their Master, Jesus Christ, is with them on the shore, there is something different about Him that they are unable to comprehend fully without His assistance (Romans 8:5; John 15:5; I Corinthians 13:12).

After John manages, however, to identify the stranger on the shore as “the Lord,” Peter immediately dresses and dives into the water to swim about 200 cubits (100 yards), eager to join Him on the shore. Contrast this passage with the first large catch miracle where all the disciples were “astonished” at the catch, while Peter, overwhelmed by the miraculous power of Jesus, begs Him to “depart from me” (Luke 5:8).

John's narrative indicates no hesitation on Peter's part to follow Christ's direction to cast the fishing net, this time on the right side of the vessel. This contrasts with the first large catch miracle (Luke 5:1-11) where a newly-recruited Peter resists His direction before submitting.

Subsequently, the fishing net is brimming with a massive catch, yet it does not tear, nor are any of the men anxious or overwhelmed. In fact, Peter jumps back into the water to finish dragging the miracle catch back to shore by himself. Conversely, during the first large catch incident, the net tears and the two fishing boats involved begin to sink (Luke 5:6-7).

Taken together, we see how the first large-catch miracle marks the beginning, while the second miracle signals the completion of the disciples' three-and-a-half-year education under God's direct tutelage. We also witness the disciples' efforts to overcome several challenges common to most Christians: learning to recognize or see God; following His commandments in faith, and learning how to remain steadfast in the midst of overwhelming circumstances (John 21:8-12).

The narrative of the second large catch begins with an anxious and bewildered—perhaps even backsliding—group of disciples that struggles initially to identify their Lord and Master. Nonetheless, even with their initial lapse of faith, by the end of this incident, we witness good fruit from the disciples' unique and uncommon apprenticeship: their weak faith buttressed, their unbelief dissolved, and their capacity to serve wholly enriched by the presence of God.

Because each disciple's flaws are compounded in his Lord's absence, each will soon receive the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (Acts 2). Christ's commission, then, recognizes and rewards their growth and points to the beginning of their new vocation (John 21:15-17). No longer will they be only “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17), but soon they will work as pioneering ministers in the nascent church of God, tending and feeding all who are called into “the Way.”

Martin G. Collins
The Miracles of Jesus Christ: A Second Large Catch of Fish (Part Two)


 




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