by Catherine Wilson – Published 1/15/2023
Pastor gave a devotion at Lake Tiberias where he stated that this was the place of John 21. The following is not necessarily from him, but a mixture of thoughts I had from visiting the site.
Seven Disciples went out fishing (John 21). What a curious thing.
“Why were they fishing?” Pastor asked. My mind began to race. They were supposed to be spreading the gospel not fishing. After all, Jesus had died and was resurrected. There was a period of time before Pentecost that the disciples of Jesus were hiding. Peter had denied Jesus 3 times for fear of persecution. Maybe they were afraid of persecution and were afraid to spread the gospel. I gave the disciples the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they were just hungry and needed to feed everyone.
But, why were they out fishing? Perhaps they had lost confidence in the gospel and went back to what was familiar to them. They needed a little encouragement. Something extraordinary was about to happen. They would have an encounter with their Risen Lord.
Jesus called out to them “Children? Have you caught anything?” Jesus was on the beach and made a fire and was cooking fish. When they told him no, he told them to put their nets on the other side of the boat. Then they caught so much fish they were not able to haul it in. When the fish were counted, there were 153 fish.
Pastor mentioned that every word in the Bible is important and numbers mean something when you are studying the gospel. The Jewish people would have understood what 153 meant.
He stated that 153 to a mathematician is the sum of all integers from 1 to 17 and is sometimes depicted as a triangle. (I’ll tell a personal experience about this at the end.)
To a Jewish person, in Hebrew, every letter has a number attached to it. The sum of the letters for 153 is “Ani Elohim” or ”I AM G_D.” Jesus was declaring and possibly reminding the scared apostles that He is God. Although the tasks at hand to take the gospel to the entire world seemed overwhelming, the great I AM would be with them.
I find it curious that only 7 of the disciples were there. Seven is the number of perfection and completeness. Perhaps it was a reminder that God completes them. He provides food and everything they would need for the ministry. I chuckle when I think of the words, “Children have you caught anything?” He expected a negative answer. God said, “Follow me. Put the nets on the other side of the boat and I will provide.”
The pastor encouraged us to pick up a stone from Lake Tiberias as a remembrance of being there that day. I walked up to the water’s edge of Lake Tiberias and low and behold, there was a triangle piece of pottery at my feet. It reminded me of the mathematician’s idea of 153. I believe God was telling me, “There is your stone.” I picked it up and put it in my pocket. When I got back on the bus I pondered what God was trying to teach me. I think the lesson is this:
Things in this life aren’t always logical like a mathematician’s triangle. Things don’t always add up. We may never know why bad things happen to good people. When you place your faith in Ani Elohim, the great I AM, there is a new logic: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 ESV Ani Elohim will provide everything you need for life’s journey, just like the abundance of fish. Certainly they couldn’t eat all 153, so they shared them along the way, telling others of the extraordinary story of seeing and dining with the Risen LORD.