“When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.” John 21:9
If you go back and read this story from the beginning you see that they (the Disciples) had been fishing all night. The picture in my mind is of a few of them hanging out the day before. The sting of Jesus’ crucifixion had been washed away by the surprise and joy of seeing Him while they were hiding from the Jewish leaders (see 20:19); now they’re basking in the glow of knowing the risen Savior. It must have felt something like the soldiers who had just survived Bastogne or the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team-mates who had just won the impossible victory. Just a short time earlier they were cowering behind locked doors trembling with the fear of uncertainty. They had invested everything to be a part of a new kingdom; watched it all vanish on a cross; then watched with incredulity as the object of their affection revealed Himself.
So, at the end of what must have been a very good day I picture them sitting around a fire spinning yarns and memories of the previous three years. I imagine there was a lot of laughter; the kind of laughter that brings a tear to your eyes; laughter that is relaxed and content with life.
Eventually the laughter gives way to quiet reflection; a silence that comes with serenity and peace as each mind relaxes in its own pleasant recollection of moments passed. Each of the disciples gazes with gratification at the flickering coals of the fire. Each face is framed in the warm glow of the fading embers.
One of them, Peter, says, “Ya, know…the last three years has been a blast, and I wouldn’t trade a moment of it, but I really miss what I used to do…fishing. I think I’m gonna go drown some worms.” (Yes, I know that there are a ton of problems with the hermeneutics and exegesis of my paraphrase, but just work with me.)
Anyway, some of the others say, “Hey, that sounds nice. We’ll come with ya’.”
And, being fisherman they fish, all night. They catch…nothing. “Well, I guess the good times are over,” they must have thought to themselves.
Then some “yahoo” walking along the shore suggests throwing the nets out of the other side of the boat. It must have seemed like a joke, and I sense that it was with a certain amount of sarcasm that they gave it a try.
It’s at this moment, as they start retrieving their catch, that the nets start to rip. Peter’s head must have snapped around to look again at the mysterious stranger on shore. I suspect that what He saw, as he squinted through the mist, was a familiar silhouette crouched over a fire coaxing the embers from the previous night’s fire back to flame. I suspect that in the flickering light of the fire Peter saw a wry smile. I imagine a playful twinkle in Jesus’ eye as He thought, “That’s my boy, The Rock. A little slow on the uptake, but quick to action once he catches on.”
And, as if on cue, Peter jumps out of the boat and rushes to shore. The others’ follow in short order and this is where I think the fun really starts.
Jesus had just delivered fish into their nets beyond their imagination. He filled their nets beyond measure. That would have been enough, don’t you think? But, that’s not how the Savior rolls. The Disciples are dead tired from riding an emotional rollercoaster, being awake all night and then dragging nets bulging with fish to shore. They probably figured that it was good enough that they had been blessed with a good catch. Cooking their own breakfast would just be part of the routine.
But, really, Jesus doesn’t do just enough. He doesn’t just meet our need, He supersedes it. He provides for us before we have a clue that we have a need. It’s like He was saying, “you thought you needed raw fish, but what you really need is some cooked fish… and some bread, too.” Also, I don’t think it’s a stretch to assume that Jesus has some skills with the spatula and frying pan. It’s unlikely that He had simply slapped some mayonnaise and Chicken of the Sea onto some Wonderbread. No, it’s easy to imagine some macadamia crusted orange roughy garnished with citrus infused horseradish sauce served with lightly toasted artisan bread rubbed with roasted garlic.
Then He really gets to the point, “Hey, bring some of your fish, too.” Did He really need them to bring some of the fish that they had just caught? No, I’m quite certain that He was more than capable of feeding them all. Jesus’ point is that it’s more fun when we all get to share what we have. Yeh, He provided the fish that He asked them to bring, but that’s His point. It would be enough that He gives us stuff. It would be enough for Him to provide even after His provision.
What “floors” me is that Jesus wants me to know the joy of blessing others. He blesses me so that I can bless others. And, not just so that the “other” can be blessed, but so that I can get to experience just a small bit of what it’s like to be a “blesser”.
…blessing us to be a blessing. That’s just the way Jesus rolls.