Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. John 21:4-7 NIV
When we read John’s account of the disciples fishing all night, but catching nothing, then Jesus telling these experienced fishermen to put their nets down on the other side of the boat – resulting in catching an extremely large number of fish – it sounds familiar doesn’t it? It should, we have seen this miracle before. Luke describes a similar scene in Luke 5:1-11. In Luke’s account Peter says and does something that I think is key in our relationship with Jesus.
“When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,” Luke 5:8-9.
What is going on here? I believe it is a recognition of Peter’s humanity, sinfulness and unworthiness when he is suddenly confronted with the incredible power of a Holy God. Peter recognizes this catch of fish as miraculous – only possible by an act of God.
We have other accounts in the Bible of men who were considered righteous – by God – declaring themselves to be sinful, nothing, dust – when confronted with the holiness of Almighty God. Abraham, Job, and Isaiah each expressed similar ideas in similar circumstances.
In John 21 the disciples have returned to what they know, to what they are familiar with – fishing. At this point in the story, John, the son of Zebedee, “the disciple whom Jesus loved declares to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’” John 21:7a. John has recognized Jesus – as often occurred in the post resurrection appearances of Jesus to his followers – recognition was a bit delayed, but once they recognized Jesus, lives were touched, changed and important teaching and understanding followed.
What about for you and for me? Have you encountered God’s holiness, His incredible power, his healing in your life or in the life of someone you know recently? Look at these passages in Luke 5:1-11, in Genesis 18:27, in Isaiah 6:1-5, and Job 30:19 & Job 42:1-6. Ask God to reveal to you what you need to see, hear and understand about the powerful, Holy God we serve and how we might show proper reverence, love and devotion to Him. Thank Jesus for loving you, for dying for you, for providing a way to be in the presence of a Holy God. It is an incredible gift!