On the first Easter Sunday, the most-glorious Resurrection Day, Jesus appeared to His timid followers. “When it was evening on that first day of the week, the disciples were gathered together with the doors locked because they feared the Jews. Jesus came, stood among them, and said to them, ‘Peace be with you’ ” (John 20:19).
And, “a week later his disciples were indoors again, and Thomas was with them. Even though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you’ ” (John 20:26).
Can you imagine, on these first two post-resurrection appearances, their shock and surprise? Peter, James, John and the others, each healthy, young and strong, cowering behind locked doors, fearful that the religious rulers had marked them for arrest and death. Suddenly, without warning, and without opening the door or cracking the window, standing before them was the One they had been following for more than three years. There was Jesus! Some had watched His life drain away as He hung upon the cross. Others had seen His lifeless remains removed from the cross and laid in a borrowed tomb. Now, He was standing before them. Alive!
The Resurrected and Glorified Jesus made His third appearance to His disciples on the banks of the Sea of Galilee (John 21:1,14). Here’s how it happened. Seven of the eleven disciples were together, probably at Capernaum, the hometown of Peter, Andrew, James, and John. “Simon Peter, Thomas (called ‘Twin’), Nathanael from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples were together” (John 21:2). They were not accustomed to sitting around doing nothing, so Peter popped off, “I’m going fishing” (John 21:3). “Can we come along?” They all went.
Peter, a professional fisherman, picked up his nets and went down to the shore. Before long, he and his companions were busy casting their nets into the familiar waters of Galilee. The mighty fishermen labored all night and “caught nothing” (John 21:3). Skunked!
Before the sun made its appearance the next morning, Jesus stood on the banks and called out, “Friends, have you caught any fish?” “No,” they responded. “ ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat,’ he told them, ‘and you’ll find some’ ” (John 21:6). That’s odd!
They didn’t recognize Jesus, but when “they were unable to haul (the nets) in because of the large number of fish... the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ ” (John 21:6-7). John recognized the Lord. Peter jumped in and swam to shore!
When the others arrived at the shore, they counted the fish caught in the net. One-hundred-fifty-three fish! Nice, big fish! Miraculous! But, isn’t that an odd detail and a crazy miracle? What was the significance of that odd number? Were there one-hundred-fifty-three species of fish in the waters of Galilee? Or maybe, were there one-hundred-fifty-three languages spoken in the world in that day? Ponder the possibilities.
The miracle must speak of both the variety and the multitudes of people that would be saved if the fishermen-turned-fishers-of men trusted and obeyed the directions of the Master! One day soon we will worship together with a “vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”(Revelation 7:9). Now, that’s a miracle!