When our daughter Prisca was a little girl, she and her best friend Katie liked to fish in a local pond. They added bait to the hook, threw the line in the water and waited patiently for a nibble. The fish did not jump out of the water into their hands. The girls spent hours sitting by the shore and often came home with nothing to show for their efforts. There were not even stories of “the one that got away.”
In John 21, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the disciples were at a loss as to what to do next. Very naturally, they gravitated back to what they knew best. Several of them returned to Galilee and resumed fishing. They fished all night but without success. The next morning, Jesus appeared on the shore and called to them. In the gray light of dawn, they could not see who it was who spoke, but after he told them to toss their nets into the water on the right-hand side of the boat, over 150 large fish fought to jump into the net. John looked at Peter and said, “It is the Lord!”
When they reached shore, the disciples found Jesus had built a fire and was already frying fish on the flames. He had prepared breakfast for them with his own hands. He served the meal to the men as they sat there on the rocks.
This was not some ethereal ghost standing before them but a real man. This was their teacher. He ate fish and broke bread. In Luke 24:39 he challenged the disciples, “Why do you doubt who I am? Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it is really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do!”
The risen Jesus was real to the disciples. He is just as real today…for you and me. And that’s no fish story!