By John Wright Follette
“But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood
on the shore: but the disciples knew not that
it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them,
Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.”
“And he said unto them, cast the net on the right
side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast
therefore, and now they were not able to draw it
for the multitude of fishes." John 21:4-6
They had labored all night and caught nothing. After being
brought to this condition of reduction, the Lord casually
asked, "Do you have any meat?" In order to understand
this question, we must consider the background of this story.
The disciples were interpreting the Messiah and His message
purely in materialistic terms. Jesus had told them that His
Kingdom was not of this world, but rather, a spiritual realm
into which they must be birthed. However, they were unable
to hear and understand this, as they had come under the tradition
of the elders.
The original intention of the Lord was for the law to be
ministered under the power of that truth, until it was imparted
to the people with the same value as had been given to Moses.
But the Rabbis began to interpret the Law according to the
level of their natural thinking, rather than that which was
intended when first given. The next generation again reinterpreted
it, so they were living under many layers of interpretation.
One nation after another had invaded and depleted Israel.
Due to this depletion, the remedy they sought was, "Where
is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has He not promised
us a Kingdom?"
When John came saying, "Behold, the Kingdom is at hand,"
their ears responded. But they interpreted the coming of the
Messiah on the natural level, and were looking for a King
who would drive these nations out and bring prosperity to
The mother who brought her two sons to Jesus did not say,
"Will You impart the marvelous truth that You have to
them?" Rather, her interest was in this Kingdom being
established with one of her sons seated on each side of the
Throne. When the opportunity came, the disciples argued over
who would be the greatest in the Kingdom.
This was so imbedded within them that when Jesus said He
would go to Jerusalem, suffer death, and be raised in three
days, Peter rebuked Him. This was not because Peter so loved
Jesus, but because he was afraid he would lose his place in
Therefore, Jesus turned to Peter and said, "Get thee
behind me Satan." He was not calling Peter the devil,
but He was resisting the power of the enemy who would push
through even a human personality to destroy the thing God
The disciples were continually expecting Jesus to establish
a Kingdom and bring to pass the things they wanted. Therefore,
Jesus had to rebuke them because of their lack of insight.
They had no penetration into spiritual understanding and therefore,
were unable to enter into the moving of the higher purpose
of God concerning His Kingdom.
We are no different. Whenever we are unable to grasp the
purpose of a visitation, we interpret it according to a past
visitation and then question the Lord as to what He is doing,
since it does not fit our expectations.
If we are living under certain traditional religious patterns,
we will never piece together true spiritual values. Very often,
when the Lord cannot penetrate our spirit, He will reach us
through material means. He may allow a reduction such as this
to arouse us to our true need, which is spiritual.
This happens when we experience a severe disappointment concerning
something we had prayed about for years, and then discovered
that it was not for us. While in the depth of our disappointment,
the Lord will tell us to take a step of faith that He might
take us beyond these things into something of spiritual value,
which will be a spiritual substitute for the thing we thought
we must have, or we would die. We must realize that the Lord
has something far better for us.
Once we begin to understand and accept this, the Lord may
seemingly leave us, waiting for the old to fully die. When
our faith is unable to bridge this chasm, we will revert back
to our old natural position, to the thing with which we are
Thus, Peter went back to his fishing profession. Of course,
the enemy had a boat ready and waiting. The Word tells us
that there was a boat there, immediately. We little realize
how many we influence during our time of doubt. When Peter
announced that he was going back to his fishing profession,
the others said, "we will go with you." For those
of us who walk with the Lord, we must be careful during our
times of doubt that we do not wrongly influence others.
Peter is now in disobedience because his faith would not
carry him. He could have rationalized this by saying, "I
am in the will of the Lord because He has provided a boat
and my friends are with me." But all the boats in the
world could not correct his disobedience or lack of faith.
Rather, this was a substitute for the will of God.
Peter then fished all night. It is always night when we are
in disobedience. When we persist in holding to our own ways,
we prolong the darkness concerning our understanding of His
Peter tried all the skills that he had learned over many
years of fishing, but caught nothing, not realizing that the
Lord was patiently waiting at the shore for the light of day
to come. When they finally came back, defeated, He asked,
Did you catch any fish?"
Jesus was not asking for information, for He knew their condition.
This reveals a spiritual principle. A question asked provokes
an answer. The answer then becomes a platform upon which Divine
intervention and activity takes place, which will bring the
Notice that Jesus did not rebuke them. That would have driven
them further from Him. Rather, He simply asked if their disobedience
had produced anything. He is saying, "you have had your
fling in self will, because you could not wait until the Holy
Spirit has been poured out upon you, and understanding given
to you." Now, are you ready to do it my way?"
The Lord is waiting for us to acknowledge, "I have tried
my own ways, but they did not work. Now, I am ready to listen."
In response the Lord will tell us to "cast our net on
the right side of the ship." All He is asking is simple
obedience and trust. He is not requiring a drastic change
in our environment, or some great thing, but only a simple
act of obedience - right where we presently are.
We are to carefully listen to His voice, and not interpret
what we hear according to our present circumstances or understanding.
He has something far greater for us, if we can get beyond
our self-imposed limitations.
Only then will we be able to let down our nets and bring
in the harvest that He intends.