29th October 2013


“…the net…was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.”
John 21:11 (NIV) 

It’s always puzzled me – Who counted the fish? 

It seems such a strange thing to do when you consider what had happened:  The disciples had gone fishing in a boat at night but hadn’t caught anything. They were returning to shore when a stranger on the beach asked if they had caught anything and suggested where to cast their net in order to find some fish.  When they do as the stranger suggests, the catch is so big the disciples are unable to haul the net in. 

Peter realised that the stranger was Jesus and off he went splashing his way to shore followed by the disciples in the boat.  When they got there, Jesus was preparing breakfast and asked them to bring some of the fish they had caught, and so they dragged the net ashore. Now having landed the net, seeing Jesus is ready to eat with them and no doubt teach them some important things, not least the restoration and commissioning of Peter, who is going to take the time to count the fish? 

Can you imagine someone saying, “wait just a minute, Jesus, I’ve just got to count the fish first. One, two, three, just keep the fire going, four, five, hold that thought for a moment, nearly finished?”  In truth it probably didn’t happen that way. More likely as they were later preparing the fish for sale they counted how many to determine how much money they were going to make. But it is still strange why John included the number in his account. 

Down through the years there have been many theories put forward as to what the number 153 represents. You pay your money and make your choice, but at the end of the day it’s impossible to be dogmatic about it. So why mention it at all? 

Perhaps the significant thing is that even with such a huge catch of fish the net wasn’t torn. It was able to contain all the fish that were caught.  And isn’t that true of God’s Kingdom? There’s room for Peter who denied Christ, room for the disciples who ran away from Christ, and room for you and me whatever we might have done. 

The net result is that there is room for everyone. 

Father, thank you that Jesus died for all humanity, and that there is room for everyone in your family. We don’t want to go fishing on our own, so please show us where to cast our net so that people may be brought to the beach to have breakfast with you.

Study by Barry Robinson


barryrobinsonAbout the Author:
Barry Robinson is an Elder in and pastoral worker in the Greater London area, particularly the Camberwell and North London congregations of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God London
Indian YMCA Student Hostel
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square

Meeting time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Martin Ryan
Phone:  020 8202 3998
Email:   martin_ryan@wcg.org.uk

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