[Jesus] called out to [the fishermen], “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!” … Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. – John 21:5-7a,10-11
This story sounds all too familiar to another story of Peter fishing and catching nothing. Luke 5:4-6 recounts Jesus telling Simon Peter to, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.”
Here, we see Peter fishing all night, catching nothing, until Jesus comes along. In today’s text, Peter is back fishing, catching nothing, until Jesus comes along. As the Apostle John tells this second miracle concerning fish, he adds some intriguing details. He specifically mentions 153 fish and that the nets do not break. Some scholars wonder what this specificity means. What does the number symbolize? What does it mean about Peter’s ministry or Jesus’ Kingdom?
But, as we see with both miracles concerning fish, the purpose was never really about fish. Although the nets were bursting with swarms of fish in the first miracle, the sign pointed to a calling. Jesus prophesied over Simon Peter, “from now on, you will fish for people” (Luke 5:10). And in the second miracle, although the nets stayed intact with an overwhelming number of fish, the sign pointed directly back to his original calling.
The miracle that day was that Peter’s calling to fish for people was still intact. The number of fish was likely only to prove the amazing strength of the net intact after carrying over 150 fish.Peter felt weak after denying his Lord, but Jesus returns to miraculously remind him of his unique calling to fish for people and the miracle demonstrates how Peter’s calling would still hold up with the help of his Lord, even though tested by trial.
Have you heard God’s voice speak a specific calling over your life? If so, remember what he’s said to you today and praise him that your calling is still intact, no matter what’s been happening in your life. If not, ask God to speak over you. Ask him, “Who do you say I am?”