Jesus Helps His Disciples Catch Fish

The Apparition on the Lake of Tiberiade by Duccio di Buoninsegna
Corbis via Getty Images / Getty Images

After his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ appears to his disciples on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and gives them the miraculous power to catch a large amount of fish, the Bible says in the Gospel of John, chapter 21, verses 1 through 14. Then Jesus cooks some of the fish along with some bread and invites the disciples to join him to eat breakfast. The story, with commentary:

Connected to an Earlier Miracle

This miraculous fish catch is reminiscent of the time several years before when Jesus first called his disciples to follow him, after performing a miracle that caused the disciples to catch a huge amount of fish and told them that from then on they would be fishing for people. That first fish catch miracle marked the time when the disciples began to work with Jesus in his ministry during his earthly lifetime. This second fish catch miracle marks the time when the disciples are beginning to carry on Jesus' ministry after his death and resurrection.

Throw Your Net

The story begins in John 21:1-5:

"Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.
'I'm going out to fish,' Simon Peter told them, and they said, 'We'll go with you.' So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, 'Friends, haven't you any fish?'
'No,' they answered.
He said, 'Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.'"

Jesus was standing on the shore and his disciples were boating out on the water, and because of the distance, they may not have been able to see Jesus clearly enough to recognize him. But they heard his voice and decided to take the risk of trying to catch some fish again, even though they hadn't caught any during the previous night.

It's the Lord

The story continues in verses 6 through 9:

"When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish."
"Then the disciple whom Jesus loved [John, referring to himself] said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'
As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, 'It is the Lord,' he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it and some bread."

The disciples' fishing net emerged from the water so full of fish because of the miraculous power at work that they couldn't haul the net into the boat. Once Jesus performed this miracle, the disciples recognized that the person who had been calling out to them was Jesus, and they headed toward the shore to join him.

A Miraculous Breakfast

Verses 10 through 14 describe how the disciples then eat a breakfast with a miraculously resurrected Jesus, eating some of the fish that they had miraculously caught:

"Jesus said to them, 'Bring some of the fish you have just caught.'
So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, 'Come and have breakfast.'
None of the disciples dared ask him, 'Who are you?' They knew it was the Lord.
Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead. He was reassuring his disciples that he had kept his promises about providing whatever people needed as long as they trusted him—from providing daily needs, like food, to providing eternal life in heaven.
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Your Citation
Hopler, Whitney. "Jesus Helps His Disciples Catch Fish." Learn Religions, Aug. 27, 2020, Hopler, Whitney. (2020, August 27). Jesus Helps His Disciples Catch Fish. Retrieved from Hopler, Whitney. "Jesus Helps His Disciples Catch Fish." Learn Religions. (accessed June 5, 2023).