Peter had already witnessed the resurrected Christ on a couple of occasions. His appearances were still novel but not as surprising. What was surprising was the come and go nature of it all. Jesus would materialize, say a few words and then disappear. There seemed to be some heavenly plan in place that involved waiting. What that plan happened to be the disciples hadn’t a clue. Moreover, Simon Peter wasn’t a guy to let the grass grow under his feet. He needed something to do so he returned to what he knew best – fishing. Unfortunately the fish were not cooperating. It happens with fishing.
As the fishless boat rocked on the water Peter noticed a fellow on the shoreline: 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.” John 21:4-6a
“Great!” thought Peter. “Everyone has some advice about fishing. The fish are, what – like 10 feet away? Really? Whatever. We’ll humor the landlubber. What can it hurt?” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. John 21:6b
This seemed terribly familiar. In the early chapters of the Gospel of Luke a similar event took place. In that early encounter, Peter was still plying his trade as a fisherman. To accommodate the growing crowds, Jesus had borrowed Peter’s boat and turned it into a sort of floating pulpit. Absent electricity and a nice sound system, the water did a fine job of projecting his voice. After the sermon, he told Peter to launch out into the deep and have a go at flinging his nets. But to the experienced fisherman it was bad advice. It was the wrong time of day. The fish were not biting and Peter was reluctant to take advice from a preacher. But he did and the catch was so large that it nearly sunk the boat.
As they now struggled with the nets, that earlier catch was racing through Peter’s mind. Enter John…remember him? Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord! ~John 21:7a And the impulsive Simon Peter did what we might expect: 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 21:7b As Peter paddled through the water a very necessary reckoning of very reconcilable differences was about to take place