READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l Caught nothing? Dialogue with God who tells us where to cast our nets.
Today is the Sunday after Easter. In the 40 days after His resurrection and before ascending to heaven, Jesus revealed Himself the third time to seven of His disciples. It was a long journey to Galilee – 2-3 days from Jerusalem on foot. Nevertheless, they set off intentionally to obey the post-resurrection appointment Jesus had arranged before His crucifixion, saying, “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26:32; 28:7,10)
It was by the Sea of Tiberias that the discouraged disciples had a beautiful and glorious encounter with the Risen Christ. But why Galilee, such a far-away place?
Firstly, it was to test their love and allegiance – would catching a glimpse of Jesus and hearing what He had to say to them make the inconvenient journey worthwhile?
Secondly, Jesus wanted some quiet moments with them – without the interruptions they faced in hostile Jerusalem.
Thirdly, Galilee was home for the disciples – a place where they could find peace and solidarity to recover from the trauma of His crucifixion.
Fourthly, it was a place filled with precious memories of successes, miracles, and preaching by their Master to the multitudes – that would strengthen and encourage them for the days ahead.
Fifthly, Galilee was the training ground of the disciples. They would recall the many learning moments they had with the Master and what these training moments were meant for, as they faced the future.
What Lessons Can We Draw from The Text?
LESSON 1 – Skills and abilities, although important, do not always guarantee success. Peter and a few of the disciples were seasoned fishermen. Being professional fishermen, it was painfully demoralising to fish all night only to return to shore with nothing. Something wonderful, however, happened at daybreak! The disciples unexpectedly encountered Jesus and witnessed the glory of God. When earlier there was no fish, now they had lots of fish. Daybreak is when darkness turns to light; when ordinary becomes extraordinary; when the Master whom we love appears and makes a difference. When our best efforts bear no fruit, an encounter with Jesus makes all the difference.
LESSON 2 – Jesus wants to have a dialogue with us in our challenging moments so that He can show us His way. “Children, have you no fish? Cast your net to the right.” Hearing and recognising it to be the voice of their beloved LORD, the disciples obeyed the direction Jesus gave – which changed their season of drought to plenty. They couldn’t haul in the net teeming with fish! (v5-6). We need to dialogue with Jesus in the challenging moments of our lives. He talks to us as we talk to Him. It is as we converse with Jesus that we begin to recognise Him when He speaks. When we know the Master, we know His familiar voice. Jesus says, “The sheep listen to His voice…” (John 10:3) The disciples recognised the Master’s voice and were blessed with a large catch of fish. Can we recognise Jesus’ voice when He speaks to us?
LESSON 3 – Jesus crafts memory milestones in our spiritual journey to help us remember His grace and goodness. A similar fishing episode took place at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 5). By repeating the event, Jesus was ingraining a memory milestone in the hearts and minds of His disciples for the rest of their lives. They needed to remember that He remains faithful even when things seem not to be working out in their favour. We too have special memories of God’s goodness in our memory bank of faith to draw on when things get rough. The Christ who stood with us when things were tough, will be the Christ who will stand by us as we face fresh challenges.
Surrender fruitless seasons to the Master of our lives, and regard them as learning moments. When life is hard, recall the special spiritual encounters with God who stood by and delivered us. There shall be for us glory at daybreak when we trust in the LORD.
(Sermon notes by Marjorie Tan)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- How has the Holy Spirit spoken to you through the preaching of God’s word?
- How would you summarise the message of this section or story?
- What are the implications for us through this message?
- What are the personal implications (for you)?
- What are the communal implications (for our gospel community)?
- What are the missional implications (for those we want to reach for Christ)?