Reaching Others: Sermon Notes

John 21: 1 – 11

 Introduction:  At the beginning of His ministry Jesus found Andrew and his brother, Simon Peter, fishing on the Sea of Galilee, along with James & John.

Mark 1:17:

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

In Luke 5: 1-11, Luke records an incident where these same disciples had fished all night and had caught nothing.  Jesus asked them to put their nets down for a catch, and they caught so many fish that their nets began to break.

Luke 5: 10:

“. . . .Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

Now, again, at the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry we again find the same group of disciples fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

John 21: 1-11

1 After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. 

4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.”6 And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. 

9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.”      11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

This incident presents us with some questions as to why John included this incident in his account.

Were the disciples giving up on Jesus and going back to their former vocations?

Were they in need of money?

Was John just filling space as to their activities while they waited for Jesus to show up?

Or is there a deeper, more spiritual, and significant meaning to this account?

John often writes on two levels.

I believe John was symbolically demonstrating what the disciples would be doing from now on.  Just what Jesus had

called them out to do in the beginning of His ministry.

Mark 1:17:

“And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.”

Luke 5: 10:

“. . . .Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

It is the same thing that all of Jesus’ followers are called to do. We are called out to “Reach Others For Jesus”.

T/S:  This morning, I want to look at three aspects of reaching others for Jesus.

The Impetus for Reaching Others for Jesus

An impetus is a force which helps something along, a stimulus.

There are three factors that should stimulate us to reach others for Jesus.

The Motivation Inside of Us.

Peter, James, and John went fishing because they were fishermen!  It was what they did; it was what they were.  Therefore, there was a natural motivation for them to fish.  As Christians, there should be a natural motivation to catch souls for Jesus!

The Master’s Inquiry to Us.

5 So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.”

One day Jesus will ask each one of us that question.

The Magnificent Invitation for Us.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” 

What a glorious prospect that our Savior invites us to bring with us to heaven those precious souls we have caught for Him with His help.  We can’t bring them if we haven’t caught them. 

The Ingredients of Reaching Others for Jesus

There are at least six ingredients that determine whether or not a person will be successful at catching souls for Jesus.

1) There must be a willingness to try.

3a  Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.”

2) There must be a perseverance to endure

3b They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.

That night they caught nothing.  They fished all night & caught nothing, but they refused to quit

3) There must be a constant search for those who are lost.

It doesn’t do any good to seine an empty pond, or to fish in an empty bucket.  You must first locate the fish

4) There must be a continual casting of the net.

There are five kinds of nets that we can cast to catch souls for Jesus.

1) The net of personal relationships.

Most people are won to Christ through a personal relationship with the witness.

2) The net of personal ministry.

This involves meeting social, emotional, physical, & spiritual needs.

3) The net of personal experience.

Your personal testimony is the best witness you have:

  • My life before Christ;
  • How I came to know Christ;
  • My life since Christ saved me.

4) The net of God’s personal provision.

Tell others what Jesus did for us.

5) The net of God’s personal promise

John 3:16:

16“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Rom. 10:9-10; 13:

9that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; 10for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.

13for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

5) There must be a willingness to listen and obey.

Three, maybe four of the disciples were professional fishermen, yet they were willing to listen to someone they thought was a stranger.

We must be willing to listen to Jesus & follow His leadership as we seek to win others to Him.

6) There must be a total trust and dependence on God.

Isn’t it interesting that even though the disciples were professional fishermen, the only time we see them catch any fish in the New Testament is when Jesus helped them!

We cannot catch souls for Jesus without His help.  We do not have the ability or the power to win people to Christ without His help.

The Importance of Reaching Others for Jesus

In verse 11 we find three indications that catching souls for Jesus is important.

11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

The first indication is the number of fish that were caught.

John was old when he wrote his gospel, but he still remembers the exact number caught. Numbers are important because every number represents a soul.

Early expositors said that 153 represents the number of known nations in the world at that time.

People from all nations will be gathered into God’s kingdom.

The early Christian, Jerome, said there were 153 different kinds of fish in the sea.

God’s kingdom will have people from every ethnic group.

In Matthew 28: 19, Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of every nation (ethnos) . . .”

There were no trash fish in the net!

The second indication is the size of the fish that were caught.

Large – (Gk – megalon) – They were all keepers.  To Jesus every soul is a keeper!

The third indication is the strength of the net that caught the fish.

Not one escaped, none got away!  When the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ encompasses a person’s life, their soul is secure with God.

John 10: 27-30:

27“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29“My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30“I and the Father are one.”

To Jesus, every soul is worth safe-guarding.

Conclusion:  Is God more concerned with catching fish or catching men?

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