When Jesus asked the fishermen, “…haven’t you any fish?”… he is simply inquiring as one who wished to buy fish. But at the same time, he can see that they don’t have any.
Another way to ask this question would be, “Hey fellas, you don’t have any fish, do you?”
Remember, they don’t know who this guy on the beach is yet. As far as they are concerned, it is just some prospective customer looking to buy some fish. Of course, Jesus knows that they haven’t caught anything, and by asking the question in this way, he is setting the scene for what he wants to teach them.
The text says they answered with a simple “No”. I would love to know the tone of voice that accompanied that “No”? Was there a hint of exhaustion? An edge of irritation? A trace of embarrassment? We don’t know.
What we do know, is how Jesus responds to their “No”.
“Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
What amazes me is in this story, is that the disciples actually did what the man on the shore suggested. You would think experienced fishermen, who had been up all night and caught nothing, would resent advice from a bystander.
Considering the mood that they were probably in, I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had ignored the stranger all together and wrote him off as just another fishing wannabe who didn’t know what He was talking about.
But do you recall the last time these fishermen found themselves in this situation? In Luke chapter 5, Jesus instructed them to put out into the deeper water and let down the nets… again, after they had been fishing all night and caught nothing.
Simon Peter’s response then was, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
But on this particular occasion, it appears that the disciples simply did as they were told. I find that absolutely amazing… and I must confess that I am not sure if I understand why they act in this way.
They didn’t know it was Jesus… and they probably just wanted to get the boat in, clean the nets and go home.
But verse 6 simply says, When they did…
It occurred to me, as I though about this, that professional fisherman would have noticed a large school of fish near the surface so close to the boat. True to the nature of faith, could it be that the fish were not actually there until the net hit the water. When they did, they were rewarded for their faith. When they did, Jesus was able to provide for them in a miraculous way.
I wonder, what might your net be today? What is it that Jesus might be asking you to trust Him with? What do you need to ‘throw to the right side of the boat’?
I look forward to hearing your stories of ‘When you did…’