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Text Sermons : Erlo Stegen : The Right Side

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The Right Side (Jn 21: 1-14)

John 21: 1-14: 1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3"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.
4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5He called out to them, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered.
6He 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.
7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved 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. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish you have just caught."
11Simon 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. 12Jesus said to them, "Come and have breakfast." None of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

The disciples had fished all night, in vain. As it was becoming dawn they saw a `man' on the shore. He asked them if they had caught anything. They replied, No. Then, he told them to throw their nets on the "right side of the boat” and the miracle happened. We learn various lessons from this story:

It teaches us the importance of doing things God’s way. They had to throw the nets on the “right” side of the boat, the correct side.
Start where God starts, with repentance. The first words of the prophets, John the Baptist, and our Lord Himself was about repentance. First things first. Repentance in the Greek original text means a “change of mind”. The way you used to think must be cast overboard. Everything must be turned around and your whole way of thinking, your language, attitude, all must be on the “right side of the boat”.
Consciousness of Jesus’ love makes a huge difference to the way you see things. John refers to himself in this passage as the “one whom Jesus loved”. He was so aware of Jesus’ love that it seemed that he was more loved than the others. Are you a complainer, one who feels left out and unloved? It could be that this acute sense of being loved by the Lord was part of why John was the first to recognize him as the Lord.
As John was witnessing these events he probably called to mind the first miracle of a catch of fish (before they were called as disciples). But now, things were different – the nets were not breaking and the boat was not sinking. The difference was the resurrection! Are you living on the resurrection side, in your Christian life? What an enormous change there is when one is in fellowship with the resurrected Christ! Ponder upon these points and allow the Lord to speak to you. Without knowing Him in His resurrection power you may experience the Lord but you feel that you’re at breaking point. The nets are tearing and your boat seems to be sinking. You say, “it’s too much”, “I can’t handle any more”. Knowing the resurrected Christ changes these attitudes.
Peter’s reaction shows what Christ resurrection meant to him. As soon as John said “it is the Lord”, Peter forgot about the huge catch of fish and (putting on his garment) threw himself into the water to get to Jesus. In the first miracle of catching fish Peter said to the Lord, “depart from me for I am a sinful man” (part of repentance is conviction of one’s own sinfulness). Now, this same Peter, who had denied him thrice but experienced forgiveness, went to the Lord.
The Lord was also teaching His disciples, through this miraculous catch of 153 large fish, that their ministry was to be in catching souls. Soon, at Pentecost, they could count the catch of 3,000 men when they had cast their nets on the right side of the boat, into a sea of sinners.
Another lesson Christ was teaching them was that this great catch was not the result of human wisdom but God’s power. Peter was a professional fisherman but that night he had caught nothing. Just being simply obedient to Christ’s word to throw their nets on the “right side” accomplished astonishing things. So too, Peter and the disciples (and all of us) must learn that our intellect, abilities and human power, are all useless in accomplishing God’s work. Only the resurrected Christ can achieve great things through you. Don’t lean on your own understanding but lean on Him alone.
Jesus had breakfast prepared for them. Where had He got the fish? The text doesn't tell us and it doesn't matter. That's what the resurrected Christ does for us. It shows us again that He doesn't need us and our abilities but He invites us to bring the fish and have fellowship with Him.

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