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There is a story told by John at the end of his gospel. 

The story takes place overnight and as the sun rises over the hills surrounding a lake. 

In the previous couple of days, Jesus has been dramatically arrested and brutally killed. His mates have understandably scattered, each fearing for their own lives and panicked by the staggering events. In the brutal economic reality of the time, no matter quite how devastated you might be by the carpet being unceremoniously ripped room under your feet…you still needed to earn and eat. And so we find a small group of Jesus’ former disciples, returned to the lake they knew from their life BC and the boats which felt like home. 

They went fishing. 

In the boat were Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James & John…and two other blokes who don’t get a name-check.  The men spend all night fishing but don’t catch anything, maybe because they were unlucky, maybe because they were inept, maybe because their hearts were not really in it. Either way, as the sun rose on the horizon their glum mood was interrupted a distant figure on the shoreline waving at them and yelling something. 

“Haven’t you caught anything?” Shouts the stranger across the water. To which surely the fishermen must have been tempted to yell back some words which would have never been printed in the Bible?!

Just before Peter unloads both barrels in his direction though, the stranger yells out “try your nets on the other side of the boat!”…as if they hadn’t already done that…or as if fish only swim in very small defined circuits. 

For whatever reason, the men try it. Maybe hunger. As soon as the nets hit the water, the fish start leaping in! Loads of fish…153 to be precise. A combination of the oddly familiar voice and the sudden, shocking stash of swimmers makes one of the men (who refers to himself not by name, but as ‘the one Jesus loved’…cheeky) suddenly realises who is yelling at them.

“It’s the Lord” he says. Which is strange, cos the Lord was buried a couple of days ago. Granted, a couple of grief-stricken disciples have claimed to have seen him since then, but they must have been crazy, or seeing ghosts, or just wishing it were true….but still, he certainly wouldn’t be here, now…yelling stuff.

Peter doesn’t need any further evidence. He dives into the water and starts swimming, desperate to see his friend. 

He swims to the shore, leaving the others with the 153 fish and one less oarsman. As he stumbles up the sandbank, he is presented with a smiling Jesus, poking a fire and cooking breakfast. 

As we consider another ingredient of discipleship this week we start with this story and a couple of questions which it raises. 

What were these mates doing in the boat? Where were the other disciples?

Why did John recognise the voice of Jesus?…and why does he call himself “the one Jesus loved”?

Why did Peter jump in the water rather than just row the boat back? And what has any of this got to do with my growth as a disciple?…