The Miraculous Catch of Fish Was Only Half of the Miracle
By Ben Avery - April 27, 2015
Posted in Children's Ministry
There are two stories in the Bible that are very well known and very similar, but when we talk about both of them, we tend to forget an interesting element.
Story 1 comes from Luke 5: the disciples, who were just getting to know Jesus, had been out fishing all night. My understanding is that fishing at night worked best because the fish came closer to the surface when the surface was cooler. This was their job. Their livelihood. If their families were going to eat, they had to do their job. But they fished all night and caught nothing. That must have been frustrating! No fish meant no money. No money meant no food. I imagine Peter may have had some choice words as the night wore on.
Story 2 comes from John 21: the disciples, who had only seen Jesus a couple times after his resurrection from the dead, had been out fishing all night. It almost seems like they went out fishing just to relax, spend time together, and do something they enjoyed and were good at. But they fished all night and caught nothing. That must have been frustrating! The frustration may not have been as intense, because the stakes were lower, but as the hours passed it probably became less and less fun. And it’s still possible Peter may have had some choice words as the night wore on.
Both of those nights, as night slowly melted into dawn, someone called out to them. Asked them if they had caught anything. Told these skilled fishermen who knew what they were doing to try something different.
Both of those nights, when they did what that someone told them to do, they caught overwhelming amounts of fish.
Both of those nights, Jesus helped them miraculously catch those fish, something they could only do if they obeyed him.
And that’s usually the focus of the story. They couldn’t catch anything, Jesus helped them, it was a miracle, the end.
Yes, that’s the end, but consider this: it wasn’t the beginning.
The miraculous catch was only the SECOND PART of those two miracles!
We never talk about the first half. Something just as miraculous, in my mind.
They went a whole night, skilled fishermen, without catching anything.
Was this a coincidence? No! They went through those two long, tedious nights not catching anything so that in the morning, they could be a part of an amazing miracle that would paint for them a wonderful picture of following Christ! At the beginning of their relationship with Jesus, it helped them know Jesus was worth following! At the end of Jesus’ time on earth, it reminded them of his provision and his power!
Part One (not catching anything) of this miracle was a frustration! But without it, Part Two (an overwhelming catch of fish, exceeding by far their needs) was a celebration!
Be encouraged! The difficult times you have faced in the past, may face in the future, or are facing right now could be just Part One in a much grander story. It’s hard to see when you’re in the middle of it — just as the disciples, in the middle of their fruitless fishing nights, had no idea what was coming.
And it doesn’t cancel out all the pain or scarring that may come from going through those situations. No doubt the disciples’ muscles ached from all that futile work, regardless of the relative ease of those amazing hauls! The end result does not immediately take away the aches or hurt or emotional pain, it just gives it meaning, value, or closure.
And yes, if you asked them, I’m sure they would have rather just skipped the night of no fish and jumped ahead to the miracle in the morning.
But morning DID come.