After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.  Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.”  He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.  That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea.  The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
In John 21, the disciples decide to go fishing, and they catch nothing. Jesus tells them to let down their nets again, and there is a miraculous catch of fish. It must have been eerily familiar because the same thing pretty much happened when Jesus initially called the disciples to become fishers of men (see Luke 5). The events of Luke 5 and John 21 are very similar, yet also different.
In both Luke 5 and John 21, the disciples had been fishing all night. In Luke they are fishing because this is their career and identity. They are fishermen. Fishing is at the center of their lives, and they are taking a break to listen to Jesus teach.
In John, the disciples are fishing to kill time. Some suggest they are abandoning their calling as apostles to go back to fishing, but this is very unlikely given the Lord has just risen from the dead. At the very least, they want to see what will happen next, so the disciples are just waiting for Jesus. Fishing is no longer at the center. It has become a hobby. Their first priority in this moment is to wait for Jesus and listen to Him.
Is Christian faith a break from real life for us? Is real life work or school or family? Is waiting on the Lord, hearing and obeying Him, a hobby or is it at the center?
Another similarity. In both Luke and John, the disciples catch nothing and Jesus tells them to cast their nets again. In Luke, Peter agrees to do it, saying, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” Peter is obedient, but thinks he knows better. He is saying, “Rabbi stay in your lane. You know the Bible, but I know fishing.” We, too, are tempted to say to God, “You know religion, but I know money, or family, or what I need, etc., etc.” Amazingly, in John 21, the disciples just listen. They do not even know it is Jesus yet, but instinctively, the sheep recognize their shepherd’s voice and cast the nets. They hear and they obey.
Two final similarities. In both Luke and John, it is the miraculous catch of fish that opens the disciples’ eyes. Also in both, Peter’s reaction to the miracle is extreme. In Luke, Peter falls before Jesus and cries out, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.”
In John, when the apostle John recognizes Jesus, Peter ignores the fish, jumps out of the boat, and swims to shore. In John 21, Peter is not less aware of his sinfulness. Very recently, he had denied his Lord three times. He knows his sin, but regardless, He is desperate to be with His Savior. Usually if we go swimming, we take clothes off. Peter, instead, puts his outer garment on. He sees Jesus and He is going after him. Peter does not intend to go back for anything.
God is a speaking God, and He consistently speaks to us. The question is, when He speaks, will we weigh our options or will we jump out of the boat?
Two of the most important things in the Christian life are very simple – hearing God and obeying Him. Not surprisingly, these are things we struggle with most. For Peter, too, this does not come naturally, yet he still jumps out of the boat.
Peter does not jump because he is so courageous. Peter is a coward. Peter does not jump because he is so righteous. His sin is clear and ugly. He does not jump because He knows what will happen next. He is not in control, even of tomorrow. Peter jumps because he is convinced that Jesus is the Son of God and the Good Shepherd. Peter simply desires to be with Him.