Nets, Fish, and the New Creation
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
John 21:1-11 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. (2) Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. (3) Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (4) Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. (5) Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” (6) He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. (7) That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. (8) The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. (9) When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. (10) Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” (11) So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn.
As we work in this ministry to expose evil, specifically the evil of abuse, we should also take some “time-outs” as Jesus did. He would go off by Himself and talk with His Father, and that is not a bad thing for us to do as well. In fact, it is a necessity.
As evil as these days are, the Christian is a person of hope. Not just the “cross your fingers” kind of hope, but genuine hope of a real certainty. Christ has conquered sin and death. He has already initiated the New Creation in us. Our redemption draws closer and closer. On that Day, we will never know abuse nor the abuser again.
After rising from the dead, the Lord Jesus, in His goodness, gave His disciples’ faith a real shot in the arm. They were out fishing all night long. Nothing. Nada. Then, just as the morning light was beginning to break, they spot someone on the shore, maybe 100 yards away. He calls out to them and asks if they have any fish. No. Nothing to eat, nothing to sell. Nothing for all their labor. “Put your net on the right side of the boat and you will get some.”
They did it. I don’t know why. But they did. Maybe they thought this stranger had seen some jumping or stirring up the water just beyond them? And a similar incident had occurred once before…. memories? We aren’t told. But they did it. And, as I once heard a preacher put it many years ago, every fish in the sea swam into it. Well, at least 153 and they must have been pretty big because the net had to be towed to shore rather than hauled into the boat. In spite of all that, the net didn’t break (in contrast to an earlier such miracle, as you might recall). Then they knew it was the Lord. Peter got dressed and jumped in the water. Go figure.
What is this all about? Well, this is one of those places in Scripture where you have to step back and take a look at the big, big picture of redemption from Genesis to Revelation or you will miss the main point. First of all, this is a fulfillment of something Ezekiel spoke of centuries before (well, a partial fulfillment) –
Eze 47:9 And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes.
Eze 47:10 Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea.
What Ezekiel was talking about was the New Heavens and the New Earth. The New Creation in which the curse will be no more. What is part of the curse as a result of the Fall? That the creation that was to be under the dominion of man would be in rebellion. That now man would have to work and get his food by the sweat of his brow (Gen 3). When the darkness of sin swept over the creation, this was the kind of thing that characterized life in that darkness.
But then Jesus came. He effected victory over that darkness as the Light of the world. And so it was, on that shore of the Sea of Tiberias, that the risen Lord essentially said to the disciples, “Boys, I am Victor. I have effected the redemption of all things. The New Creation has begun. Let me give you just a taste of it. Put your net on the right side of the boat and you will see what “labor” will be like in the New Earth.” And they did. They had labored all night long in the darkness by the sweat of their brow and they had nothing. Dawn broke as the Light of the world came walking on the seashore, and they had a fish fry and sale like they hadn’t ever seen before.
Christ is Victor over sin, death, and the curse. This present world is passing away and all that is in it. In Christ, we are already new creations. All it is going to take is one shout, one trumpet, the resurrection and transformation of our bodies, and this blog will never be needed again. That is good news, and ultimately when we get right down to it, that is the real hope for us to give to every suffering believer we know.
(Oh, Peter? My theory is that he got dressed before jumping out of the boat because he just knew he was going to walk on water again. But that’s just a theory. We will have to ask him someday).