Saint Luke tells of the time when Jesus called His first disciples. That time, Jesus got into the boat owned by Peter who was a partner of James and John in a fishing business. They hadn’t caught anything all night and had given up. Jesus told them to go back out and try again. They were, at best, reluctant to do that but they did. The fish mongers were astonished at the catch.
This time, Saint John tells us, Jesus is on the shore. The fishermen had been out on the water all night but, like the last time, they weren’t catching anything. Jesus calls out for them to try again, and again they immediately had more fish than they could handle, just like the last time. This story sounds a little fishy (couldn’t help myself), does it not?
The two stories begin in very similar ways, but there are significant differences and those differences foreshadow significant outcomes. Here are some examples.
The first time Jesus was in the boat with the fishermen. This time He wasn’t.
This time Jesus addresses them using a word that means child, “Children have you caught anything?” In English it sounds like a very unusual way to talk to grown men. But the Greek form of the word He used often indicates people not just children. The word is used elsewhere in the bible to identify people who have been given the Holy Spirit. It is actually a friendly, colloquial greeting. Today we might say “hey gang” or “hey guys”. In any case, it indicates that Jesus sees them in a different way than before.
The first time Jesus went to the fishermen, principally Peter. This time Peter dives into the water and goes to Jesus.
So, we have this story of the third encounter between Jesus and His disciples after His resurrection. But the story behind the story is this: Jesus is establishing His Kingdom, a Kingdom of His friends.
Jesus isn’t in the boat. He is, unrecognized, on the shore preparing a royal proclamation. This is the time, the handoff. He is giving the Kingdom into the hands of His believers. They, we, are the ones who will be charged to go out into the whole world to proclaim the Good News. Jesus won’t physically be in the boat (the world). But He will be actively involved supporting, feeding, guiding, protecting- His Kingdom. It is a Kingdom of His friends.
When Peter understands who is on the beach, he couldn’t wait to get to Jesus. And I think it is safe to say that Jesus couldn’t wait to restore Peter after Peter’s denial, and to elevate Peter as physical leader of His earthly Kingdom which Peter can only do if he will follow Jesus.
We, friends of Jesus, are all charged to go into the world and bring others into Jesus’ Kingdom. I can almost hear Jesus say, ‘Hey guys, have you caught anyone?’