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The Miracle Catch

by Rev. Kirby Williams

Interpreting the fishing expedition in Galilee as a "living parable".

Text: John 21:1-8
Date: 09/06/2020, the Combined service.
Series: "John: Encountering Love" Part 193

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After the glorious consummation of John's Resurrection narrative, he turns his attention to several of the events that occurred in Galilee between the Resurrection and the Ascension. While the disciples waited for Jesus to appear, they decided to embark on a fishing expedition. We will explore the reasoning behind their decision and what significance it had in light of their calling. But regardless, after a fruitless night of fishing, they saw a stranger on the shore, who they failed to recognize as Jesus. But after following His specific advice on where to cast their net, the disciples miraculously hauled in a fantastic number of fish. We will analyze the language of the story and then interpret it as a "living parable" in which the mission and purpose of the church are distinctly articulated. We will draw valuable lessons from the symbolism of the text, as we realize that only through obedience to Jesus' specific commands, and using the right "net", can we hope to participate in the miracle catch of the Kingdom.

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I. Introduction
II. Exposition of the text, John 21:1-8.
A. Context
1. The lessons of the Upper Room Discourse.
2. The Golden Commission, John 20:21.
3. The Gospel message, John 20:31.
B. An overview of John's "appendix".
C. The disciples go "fishing".
1. Setting the scene, vs. 1.
a. Establishing the time.
b. The third appearance.
c. The location of the appearance.
2. A list of those present, vs. 2.
3. The decision to go fishing, vs. 3.
a. Analyzing the meaning.
i. The opposing views, John 16:32.
ii. Finding the balance, Matt. 4:19.
b. The disciples' are complicit.
c. The failed attempt.
i. The commercial boat.
ii. The empty nets.
4. Jesus appears, vs. 4.
a. Dawn on the Sea of Galilee.
b. A stranger on the shore.
5. The initial exchange, vs. 5.
a. A rhetorical question.
b. A terse but telling answer.
6. The change in fortunes, vs. 6.
a. Taking advice from a stranger.
i. An unexpected "fishing coach".
ii. Inexplicable obedience, Luke 5:4-5.
b. The "living parable" of the miracle catch.
i. The "divine appointment".
ii. No ordinary catch.
iii. The importance of detailed obedience.
iv. The lesson from the catch.
7. The reaction of the "odd couple", vs. 7.
a. The "pairing" of Peter and John.
b. John's reaction.
c. Peter's reaction.
8. The reaction of the other disciples, vs. 8.
a. Remaining in the boat.
b. Bringing in the catch.
D. Interpretation
1. The overview.
a. The promised fidelity, John 13:37, Matt. 26:35.
b. The abject failure, Matt. 26:31.
c. The mission and purpose of the church, John 14:12, 13, 15:4,16,18-19, 17:15-18, 20:21.
2. The symbolism of the "miracle catch".
a. The crux of the parable, Matt. 4:16.
b. Unpacking the "living parable".
i. Imagery of the church.
ii. A search and rescue mission.
iii. The requirement of perfect obedience.
iv. A job for everyone.
v. No room for indolence.
III. Application
A. Lessons from the miracle catch.
1. Recognizing our mission.
2. Following the instructions.
3. A group effort.
4. All hands on deck.
B. Using the right net.
IV. Conclusion

The Preaching Ministry of Kirby Williams
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