Later, Jesus himself appeared again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberius. This is how it happened: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter told them, “I’m going fishing.” They said, “We’ll go with you”.
They set out in a boat, but throughout the night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples didn’t realize it was Jesus. Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around himself (for he was naked) and jumped into the water.
The other disciples followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they weren’t far from shore, only about one hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire there, with fish on it, and some bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you’ve just caught. “Simon Peter got up and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three of them. Yet the net hadn’t torn, even with so many fish.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples could bring themselves to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
I used to have a very romantic vision of fishing. Fishing was a great escape and contrast to the landscape I grew up in. I imagined whistling and skipping along the old road to get to grandpas secret fishin’ spot and chugging Pepsis and Moonpies. I grew up in Los Angeles where going fishing was a grand ordeal. One could not just go out back and drop a pole in the ole creek. Unless, you were Redneck Kevin would stocked his swimming pool with catfish and gave tattoos in his garage.
Outside of Kevin, if you wanted to go fishing in Los Angeles you have to hunt for spots to do so. If you were my buddy, Randy, you went to the Sepulveda Dam Recreational area and fish for crappie along the banks with the homeless fishermen. Randy fished for sport. The homeless fishermen fished for food, from a highly polluted “river.”
If you were Mark, you gathered your gear in to your decked out El Camino and drove 35 miles to Castaic Lake. A massive man-made lake that hosted scores of urban anglers, race boats, and as much wilderness as one can get along the campfire littered shoreline filled with the left behind families melting chocolate.
Standing there along a pier that stretched out into the lake, along with 20-30 other adventure seekers you had to pull out all kinds of tricks to get your barb to stand out among the rest. Axel grease, cheese puffs, Velveeta, marshmallows, and not so alive crickets working its magic to land that prized catch.
If you were Little Dave, you were a burgeoning Pro fisherman, trying to make his way on to the B.A.S.S.masters tour. Driving around a truck that pulled a matching boat with a whisper soft motor and made your own rods in the garage. Posing as conqueror with crying catfish nailed to a 2×4 frame slowly gasping for breath that is not there. Little Dave took fishing seriously. He approached fishing like it was a science.
Little Dave wandered the West Coast looking for that magical spot that would deliver what ever it was he was looking for. He wandered the wilderness. He made a good showing at this until one day he stopped. I am not sure if he found what he was looking for or if the wandering got old. But he stopped.
If you were uncle Dave, you lived on a bait barge outside of Angels Gate where San Pedro Bay meets the Pacific Ocean. You sold mackerel to local fishermen and traded bait for stories. You spent weeks at a time on the barge and had lobster for breakfast. You shot salt rock buckshot at the harbor seals that tried to get in to the bait nets where schools of fish circled around until they were liberated in to the mouths of bigger fish.
Then there was uncle Bob. He lived in the suburbs. Had a great job. A beautiful family and a boat docked in Ventura. He would spend his Saturday’s bobbing on the ocean. Sunscreen on his nose. Captain’s hat on his head. He escaped his perfect world to get connected to the dangerous and uncontrolled wilderness of real life. Uncle Bob was a tender soul looking for God in all the right places. Fishing was a vehicle to the divine.
Over time as I have lived in various towns and cities in the US and abroad, I have encountered many fishermen and fisherwomen. All with a different reason for fishing. All hoping and searching for something. Many of the disciples fished before they met Jesus and naturally many of them fished after Jesus had died.
I wonder that if the disciples had been sanitation workers would I harbor idealistic hope for trash and cleanliness? What if the disciples had been carnival rousties, would I be obsessed with carnies and sideshows?
Fishing makes for a great metaphor. And for those of us that love fishing it makes for a great excuse to go fishing. I am not a fan of sunburns, baiting hooks, sitting in a wobbling boat for hours, or gutting fish. I love the people in my life that do fish and support their pursuits.
I just don’t need fishing to encounter Jesus. I’d much rather be a fisher of people, than a fisher of fish…
What is your fishing?
How do you seek God in your life?
Who do you seek God with?
Why do you seek God at all?
We all like breakfast, right? We can start there…