MIRACLES AT THE SEA
Following chapter 20, we have a "P.S.," an appendix, showing us that those disciples were more or less like us. It may have been easy for them to go on in such a seemingly unsettled condition for a couple of days, but for them to continue longer than that was beyond their capacity. The time came, I do believe, when they had nothing more to eat. The leading brother, Peter, could stand it no longer. He said in effect, "Brothers, I’m going fishing, I’m going to get something to eat." All the others said, "Okay, if you go, we’re going too." So they all went fishing and toiled drearily through the night. The right time for fishing is not during the day, but at night. So they fished at the right time. Furthermore, some of them were professional fishers, and not only that, but professional fishers on that very lake. Peter, James and John grew up there. They knew the lake from end to end, from side to side. Yet through the whole night they caught nothing. This was the greatest miracle! Could you believe that professional fishers fishing all night in a sea which they knew so well could catch nothing? Don’t you think this is a miracle? The Lord Jesus must have told the fish, "Get away fish! All kinds of fish, take My order, stay away from My disciples till I tell you to come back." That was indeed a miracle. It was absolutely contrary to natural law.
Then the morning came. They should have been more than disappointed. If they could catch nothing in the night, how could they catch anything in the day? But in the midst of their despair the Lord Jesus came. He knew their problem—it was a matter of eating. So He asked, "Children, have ye aught to eat?" (v. 5). They answered, "No!" Then the Lord replied, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find." He said in effect, "Do it My way; do it according to My word." And they did. The daytime was not the right time to fish, but this time they fished according to the Lord’s word. They got a net full of fishes, one hundred and fifty-three. Another miracle! And then when Peter came to land, he saw that the Lord had some fish there already. The Lord’s implication to Peter was, "There is no need for you to go to sea to fish; even on land I can prepare fish for you. Peter and John, do you need fish? Why don’t you ask Me? I am much better than the sea. Even if you go to sea, without My permission you can get nothing. If you only ask Me, though you stay at home, you will have all the fish you need."
Miracle number one was that they caught nothing for the whole night. Miracle number two was that in the morning, during the day, they caught so many fish. Miracle number three was that without catching anything from the sea, there was fish already on the land, and it was already cooked, and not only fish, but bread. It is marvelous! Everything is ready. Come and dine!
If we put all these points together, we will see that what the Lord said and did to the disciples, including Peter, gives a clear view of the church life today. The church life must be absolutely outside of religion. With religion, there is always a schedule, an organization, a system, an arrangement. But here there is none. There is only one thing, one living Person. And this One is always with us. In the open air or under a roof, indoors or outdoors, at home or at the seashore, He is always there. You simply cannot get rid of Him. Whether you are conscious or unconscious of His presence, He is always with you, and whatever you need He knows. If you need to eat, He will care for you. Don’t go fishing—He has the fish. Just enjoy it. When problems arise, religion, as we have seen, uses the power of money. But the Lord Jesus exercises His universal authority. Whenever a work is started for the Lord, the natural, religious concept is always to consider the funds on hand. That was why Peter went fishing—it was the way to make money for eating. He felt that he at least needed something to buy groceries.
(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)