There is a missional depth of the Gospel reading from John 21. Jesus showed Himself again to His disciples following His resurrection. The disciples knew that Jesus had risen from the dead, yet they did not know what to do next or what it meant to their mission. Our knowledge about Jesus or His resurrection is not complete without our personal encounter with Him. Still bereft of this personal encounter, the disciples went fishing with Simon Peter. Like many churches today, working hard on trainings, meetings and resolutions, the disciples worked hard all night and got no result. The Bibles says, “… They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately: and that night caught nothing.”

Fishing is not just a symbol of a professional career, it is a symbolism of the Church’s apostolic and prophetic task and mission. There are many people ‘fishing for career,’ with a lot of fruitlessness and frustration in the church and nations just as with the disciples; because people still need to provide for themselves and their families. The disciples’ renewing encounter with Jesus points us to the difference between a professional/career ministry and a prophetic/apostolic ministry. The disciples’ renewing encounter turned the disciples’ fruitlessness, all night labour and frustration to joy and fruitfulness. Jesus did not only empowered them to be fruitful, Jesus ‘satisfied their needs, gave them a well cooked breakfast and then instructed Peter again, feed my lambs, feed my sheep and feed my sheep.’

Jesus’ resurrection tells us that beyond all night of fruitlessness, crying, pain, decline and frustration there is always the break of dawn. The Bible says, “But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.” This is very sad as the disciples’ lack of knowledge about Jesus, who is now appearing to them as a mysterious figure on the distant shore resonates with many in the church and ministry today.

Jesus, the Vine, the Author and Finisher of our faith remains the same yesterday, today and forever. All that is required of us is to trust and obey Him. When the morning was now come, Jesus on the distant shore shouts out to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” The disciple’s humble and negative answer was followed by Jesus’ instruction to them to cast their net over the right side of the ship with an assurance that “and you shall find.” Net symbolises our human skills, capacities and potentials. The functionality of our nets is empowered and depends on casting them on the right side under Christ’s instruction. Indeed, except the Lord build the house, the labourers’ labours in vain. Casting nets of our theology, leadership, marriage, prayers, and families in the church and ministry without following Jesus’ instruction amounts to letters that kills and labours that ends in vain and decline.

Following Jesus’ instruction, the disciples bring in a huge catch of fish. Fishing expedition remains ‘a symbol of the Church, across space and time, at its apostolic task of seeking souls. The life and work of the Church, John seems to be telling us, will be a lengthy, twilight struggle, a hard toil that will often seem to bear little or no fruit. But after the long night, the dawn of a new life and a new order will break, the transfigured world inaugurated by Jesus. The catch of fish that he makes possible is the totality of people that Christ will gather to himself; it is the new Israel, the eschatological Church.’ It is crucial to receive and obey guidance from the Lord in all our work and ministry. If we live and work without Christ’s presence and direction, then much of what we do becomes all night wasted efforts of repeated failure and decline.

The question Jesus put to Peter apply to us today as His followers if we truly possessed a devoted love for Jesus Christ. Peter’s ministry and leadership is a warning to today’s church and leadership because emotional enthusiasm and commitment do not last without confident love for Jesus Christ. A deep and heart felt love for Jesus is the only effective motivation for serving Jesus (Jn 14:15; 16:27). It is out of a loving personal relationship comes the corporate motivation and power to fulfil our God-given task and purpose, especially for the fishing – salvation of souls. Jesus’ question to Peter is about our heart spiritual alignment and condition. To feed Jesus’ lambs and sheep suggests the need for a teaching, pastoral care from a loving, spirit-filled faithful leaders, feeding constantly on God’s Word; need for a repeated guidance, protection and correction from God and others. Jesus repeated instruction to Peter until it sank deep calls us to total obedience to God’s Word for effective Net-fishing, and an end to our fruitlessness, pride, ignorance, frustration and decline.