Friday, March 15, 2019

Devotionals for the Heart: Lessons on faith, fish and finding Jesus

Faith, Fish, and Finding Jesus

A devotional by Victoria Bylin

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.” –John 21:10-11 (NIV)

Not a word in the Bible is wasted. That’s why, when I read these verses at the end of John’s gospel, I’m curious about the number of fish. It’s 153. Not a 152 or 154. Not “about 150,” or any other estimate. There are 153 large fish in the net when the disciples haul it into the boat.

I did some research and found all sorts of theories about this number and what it means. Numbers in the Bible are important, and using even the simplest approach, 153 is rich with meaning because the number one stands for God, the number five is the number of grace and the number three stands for manifestation.

So the whole number “153” stands for God’s grace manifested. What a perfect summation of this story!

Let’s the set scene: It’s nearly dawn. Christ has been crucified and raised from the dead. Shortly before this incident, he revealed himself to the disciples, including doubting Thomas. But time has passed. He’s gone again, and the Holy Spirit won’t arrive until the Book of Acts.

Peter and the disciples go fishing, thus returning to the world they know. They cast their nets, but there’s not a fish to be found. There’s nothing but the dark water and darker sky. They don’t see Christ on the beach, a small fire blazing at His feet. I imagine Peter and his friends were broken and exhausted, confused, full of doubt, and questioning themselves.

Have you been there? I have.

But then they hear Jesus speak to them from the shore.

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.” 

(John 21:5-6, NIV)

They cast the net over the side, and the next thing they know, the net is so full that they can’t haul it into the boat. Peter jumps over the side, swims and sloshes to the same Lord who he denied three times. The other disciples drag the net to the shore, where a charcoal fire is ablaze and fish are already cooking.

This is what I love about this story: Jesus didn’t need the disciples to bring in the fish. He was already cooking a meal for them. If he wanted, he could have made the fish jump into their boat. Instead, He lets the disciples participate in what He had already done. Can you imagine the joy of that catch? The excitement as they counted out exactly 153 large fish? The thrill of retelling that story over and over for decades to come?

We have that same privilege now.

God is all-sufficient. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. He doesn’t need our flimsy efforts to feed the world and care for the poor, but he knows what a joy it is to give. He allows us to participate in His provision.

We have that opportunity every day. Maybe you give to a local food pantry or bring meals to someone fighting illness. Perhaps there’s a struggling single mom at work, and you pass along a gift card to a grocery store. The list of ways we can share is endless.

When Jesus filled the disciples’ net with 153 fish, it was only the beginning of the story. 

We’re blessed indeed to tell it every day with our own acts of charity. 

Author Bio:
Victoria Bylin is the author of 18 traditionally published romances. Known for tackling difficult subjects with great compassion, she delights in stories that shine the spotlight of God’s love on ordinary men and women facing realistic challenges.

Writing has always been a part of Victoria’s life. As a child, she wrote hundreds of letters and scribbled in journals. As an adult, she worked as a freelance journalist and editor before taking on the challenge of fiction.

She had one goal when she started her first novel: to finish a book-length manuscript, good or bad. That first effort will never see the light of day, but it led to a second manuscript and a sale to Harlequin Historical. Since then, she has written westerns and contemporary romances for both mainstream and Christian publishers, with Together With You winning the 2016 Inspirational Readers Choice Award for Best Contemporary.

Writing is a joy and a challenge for Victoria, but faith, friends, and family matter to her far more. She’s a wife, mom, proud grandmother, and a dog-mom to a wacky Jack Russell Terrier. Originally from California, she and her husband currently make their home in Lexington, Kentucky. 

When she’s not writing, Victoria enjoys long walks, travel, and dark chocolate.

Connect with Victoria:

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