21 After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter *said to them, “I am going fishing.” They *said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus *said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” 6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved *said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.
I realized a common falsehood that is often taught about this passage. Sometimes, this passage is use to teach about obedience, that the knowledgeable fishermen after spending all night fishing heeding Jesus’ words despite their expertise and were in turn blessed. In verse 4 we see that the disciples did not know it was Jesus speaking to them. When He does speak, we can see He still speaks with authority, as He calls them children. I have witnessed many times people “following orders” because they came from someone in a way that seemed to know what they were talking about. We all tend to be subject to this. How many of you have taken information straight from Wikipedia as good solid knowledge? Funny how universities and researchers do not accept Wikipedia as a viable source of information…
Before I get sidetracked about research, I want to focus on the lesson here that is rarely taught. In verse 1, John says Jesus manifested himself in this way. What way is he talking about? It wasn’t visually or even audibly. He was standing in front of them speaking to them and they had no clue it was Him; this teacher of theirs (which they already know is resurrected and walking around), that they have had an intimate relationship with for over 3 years is not recognized. I’d like to pause here and make us think about what this means. God manifests Himself appropriately according to His Will. He does it strategically and purposefully. For those who don’t see, there is a reason. For those who do see, there is a reason. So then, how do we know if something is from God or not? Let’s continue with our study…
How did John know that the man on the shore was Jesus? By the ridiculous supernatural happening he was experiencing with the others. Jesus’ manifestation was not at this point at a human level. He wasn’t visibly Jesus and He wasn’t audibly Jesus, even His presence (you would imagine being in the presence of God is a pretty weighty situation). It was the miraculous catch of fish that Jesus manifested Himself in the lives of the men. Let’s throw this into a common perspective I have come to understand these days.
The men in the boat, the ones who knew Jesus personally, instantly recognized that it was the power of God and the presence of Jesus in the situation that made it happen. The men didn’t really do anything except what they thought they should be doing (even if setting back out to sea was contrary to their expertise). I wonder what unbelievers on the shore thought about the catch. Was it luck? Was it a “gut feeling”? Maybe it was a “freak of nature” or “unexplainable phenomenon”. How did the disciples know it was the result of Jesus being there? Because they had a close relationship with Him. They knew who He was and what He was capable of. Interestingly, we don’t see any other account of this happening during His ministry before the crucifixion. I know that John says He performed many other miracles that aren’t recorded, but you would think He would have included this one previously to show the consistency (much like the other writers showed repeated miracles like healing and resurrection).
Does the believer have a different perspective? Absolutely! The believer knows, not just in his/her mind, but in their heart. I don’t mean this as an emotional response that is reactivated by the situation, but a deep inner knowledge that is ingrained in their inner being. This is the faith and belief that is interwoven with one’s soul when they take the time to know God on a personal level.
Are you seeking this relationship with God? Do you know when He is present in your life?