He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
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.
I can just imagine the emotional tumult the disciples had been through. From having seen Jesus mocked and crucified, then learning about the absence of his body from the tomb through the report of Mary Magdalene, and then seeing him suddenly appear while they were gathered in a room – it was a roller coast ride of grief, shock, disbelief, and belief again. One of them, Thomas, even declared, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25). Jesus appeared again to the disciples in a room and invited Thomas to touch his nail-scarred hands and side.
It is no wonder that when Peter declared he was going fishing, the others decided to come along. We don’t really know if the disciples simply wanted to clear their minds, or if they fished to force themselves back into a known routine, or if they were hungry or needed to make some money (or if ALL these things were running through their minds!). What is true is that they were entering the boat quite overwhelmed with recent events.
They fished and fished and fished all night, but didn’t get any catch. The tired, discouraged disciples were still on the boat when a voice called out, “Friends!”
They didn’t realize it was Jesus at first, but the man on the seashore asked if they had any fish. When they said they didn’t, the man gave instructions to throw their net on the right side of the boat.
The disciples could have said, “We’ve done that! Get lost!” But they obeyed the man anyway. Because they obeyed, they were able to haul a huge catch of fish into their boat. And yes, they realized after a while that it was Jesus who had called out to them.
The presence of Jesus can overturn any discouraging circumstance in our lives. His words and instructions can give us new hope—a fresh turn; a twist in situations even when we think some things are impossible. God is still the God of breakthroughs.
No matter how emotional the events surrounding our circumstances can be, God still sees a way of getting us back on our feet, encouraging us to look to Him, to hear His voice, to obey His instructions.
And in the middle of all this, He calls out to us: “Friends!”
It is a wonderful thing to be called a friend. The term “disciple” implies obedience and a steadfastness of character, but… friend? There is a relational closeness with “friend.” It is a name that speaks of relationship; of joy in one’s presence; of sharing secrets; of time spent together; of a cherished bond.
Do we hear Jesus calling us His friends?
If we are feeling hopeless in our situations now, let’s take the time to remember our FRIEND who sticks closer than a brother. Let us remember Him who can make fish appear when just a second ago, no fish swam. Jesus’ presence and voice can make all the difference in our lives.
Janina Marie Rivera is the Editor-in-Chief of One Voice Magazine, a teacher of world literature, and a student of the Bible. She enjoys reflecting on life’s curve balls and plateaus. She resides in the Philippines, the country known for people who smile a lot.