Bring Some of the Fishes You Have Caught
The Miracle of Colaborship
Jn. 21:4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?" "No," they answered. 6 He said, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some." When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. …
9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught." 11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast."
This is the third recorded miracle in the gospels involving loaves and fishes. The first two stories are stories of miraculous provision. This one is no different. This is also a post resurrection miracle—the only one recorded. So this story is teaching us about what is specifically available to us through the resurrection life of Christ now, rather than an example of what He had done on His own by way of example in the past. This story is specifically instructive for us today.
This story of loaves and fishes is a story about post resurrection colaborship. In the first two stories, Jesus did everything. Not so in this story. In this story, the emphasis is on the toil of the disciples leading to the encounter with the Lord’s provision.
The disciples have toiled all night. They were where only they could be, doing what only they could do. The night speaks of the season of toil of our lives. We have labored for so much for so long, yet in this night season of world darkness have seen nothing for all our efforts. And it is not because we are novices or don’t know what we are doing. We are in fact good at what we do. These men were professionals in the fishing industry. They were good at what they did when they did it.
Nevertheless, for all the effort, they received nothing for it—a very poor return on investment indeed. Does your life seem like that?
But then, early in the morning, comes the Voice from the shore. Jesus was not immediate to the disciples. They didn’t even know it was Jesus. It was still relatively dark out though the sky was lightening. They only heard the Voice. This is the voice of the Holy Spirit after the night season of toil. It is the first sign of the breaking of the night and a transition to something truly productive to come.
And so it is that, without certainty of Who they are listening to, yet at the end of their ability to toil, they obey the Voice—they do the “opposite” thing, casting on the other side of the ship. They do the thing they would not have thought of to do for themselves. And lo, there it is---the miracle appears. And unlike the first two miracles involving loaves and fishes, the Lord has wrought this multiplication through their own hands, not His. Here, it is only about obedience to the unknown voice, not watching Him do something for us.
Finally, they get to shore. In process of coming to shore, they have begun to recognize that this was after all of the Lord. It was the Lord who had overseen their plight from the beginning. And in coming to the shore, they are coming to the Lord. They are joining to Him. The miracle is leading them to the Lord in His glory and completion of the story.
See next that when they arrive at the land, they see not only the Lord, but that there are already a set of loaves and fishes prepared for them! These fishes had been roasting on the fire already for some time. So the Lord has been there for some time in the background. He has known all along what the disciples were going through out there on the water, though they could not see Him and had no knowledge of His presence. (He wasn’t in this boat as He had been so many times before, yet as in all the other stories of travail at sea, the Lord was in the know of their hapless situation.)
Lastly, Jesus says, “Bring some of the fishes you have caught.” And it is here we want to see the completion of this story.
Hear the emphasis on the words, “you have caught.” Not “I have caught.” Not “what I caused you to catch by my miracle.” He says, “what you have caught.” This miracle is about what He does through us by His habitation of us.
This is the miracle of colaborship. It is a four phase miracle. First is the phase of night toil. Second is the obedience to the Voice producing their catch. Third is the pre-provision of the Lord’s sole preparation (this fish on the fire). And fourth is the joining of the miraculous catch through the disciples hands to the pre-provided catch through the Lord’s own hands.
The miracle of colaborship does not happen in isolation but in context of process. All four elements or phases of this miracle were necessary to the miracle of the Lord’s provision. And this is how miracles are to be wrought, expected and realized in the post resurrection age.
Remember that stories about loaves and fishes are all stories of miraculous provision. This is a story of God’s provision for our lives and how it comes about. God desires to provide for our lives through miracles of co-laborship. In the end, the provision is always of Him alone, but not of His “agency” alone. He is not the sole actor or player.
Coming into the Lord’s provision for our lives involves the realization of these four phases. There is the work that we do that produces nothing. This is not a wasted phase. It is a necessary phase. God’s miracles come at the end of our toil. Without the toil first, they do not come. This is the phase we all hate and want to find a way around. It is the “death” phase, but there is no way around it. We have to accept it. We have to be patient. And we have to come to the end of ourselves in it. This is just the way it is.
You never learn to “bypass” this phase of empty toil just because you learn about it in an earlier cycle in your life. You always have to go through this phase in all your later cycles as well to get to the next realm of miraculous colaborship. Because of this, we are always exhorted to “be steadfast and immovable, knowing that our labor (toil) in the Lord is not in vain.”
Then in obedience to the Voice, the miracle comes through our own hands. The immediate provision comes. There are many times at the end of a long period of toil we finally are led to something by we-know-not-how, but we take a stab in blind faith to do something different and out-of-the-box. And God meets us there. We see a turning. Something begins to come into us. And it is amazing. But it does not come until we have passed through the night, and the morning is ready to break in His time and He is ready to Speak the blind word to us.
But it is the third and fourth phases of this miracle that are truly amazing. In the third phase, we see that the Lord has already made His own catch of fish. God has already had a provision for us all along though we could never see it all night. It was already there waiting on the coals, baking away while we toiled for our nothingness. This is the provision all around us of which we are unaware that totally encompasses our circumstances.
Our circumstances, which to us seem desperate in the immediate, are nevertheless hedged in by the boundless provision of God in every way imaginable and unimaginable. Those provisions are hidden to our awareness because of the largeness of our immediate sense of need. But all around us, our circumstances are hedged in by His grace. There are only so many cracks He allows our desperation to fall through.
But He does not allow us to be destroyed and totally wasted. That could never bring Him glory. And thankfulness helps us realize this surrounding abounding provision in the midst of desperate all consuming need until the miracle appears.
But it is the fourth phase of this miracle where it all comes together. In this phase, the Lord joins His provision through our hands to His supernatural surrounding sovereign provision. He joins “our” fish to His fish. No one eats until these provisions are joined! The Lord is waiting for us to come to shore with His catch through our hands to join to the catch of His own hands, to consummate the fellowship of the meal and the glory of the moment.
This friends is the pattern miracle of colaborship. For those of us in the night season of toil, the Lord wants us to know our labor is not in vain, but that we are about to hear a Voice at the break of day. When we hear it, we will respond to that thought, that idea, that hunch, that impression. We are to do the opposite thing than what we would have thought of to do.
When we do that thing in blind obedience, we will see the immediate miraculous provision appear. It will be one so great we cannot contain it.
But that is not the end of the story for us by any means. For in that moment of the miraculous catch, we still will have eaten nothing. The fruit of that miracle must still be joined to His Prevenient Catch. We must go to shore. We will go to HIM in a new way, in a new fellowship. And when we arrive, we will see the totality of His Catch awaiting us. And there, we will join what He has provided through our hands with that which He had provided through His own hands alone of which we never knew.
This is a pattern for miracles here and now in this post resurrection age, and especially now at the end of this age and the break of day of the kingdom age at hand. In a real way, this story is also a microcosm of our entire life here awaiting joining to His glorious life above, where we will truly eat of the fruit of our lifelong labors in His presence, and enjoy the return on His investment in our lives now here below.
Be blessed and edified as you ponder these things.
First Love Ministry
- a ministry of Anglemar Fellowship
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