Have you ever been afraid, hesitant, or, slightly anxious to receive God’s blessings? I know that may be a strange question to ask, but deep down I think some people might just feel that way from time to time, depending on what they are asking God for. I believe God desires to bless His people out of His storehouse of blessings. It’s just waiting for the asking. Allow me to share something from John 21 regarding this thought.
The third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He rose from the grave, it was in the morning, on a beach, and the disciples were out fishing, most likely during the night hours…
“But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” 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. 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. 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.
So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” 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.”
Here were the disciples, having already seen Jesus twice before this event, withdrawing to their normal occupation – fishing. Not all were fishermen, but I suspect they all wanted to stay together given the atmosphere surrounding Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection. I think they were still trying to process everything. It’s normal to do what you do best when you are in a stressful situation. Jesus did not chide His followers for fishing. Instead, He used the situation to bless the work of their hands. They obviously hadn’t caught anything. I suspect their minds weren’t really on fishing, it was just something to “do” to pass the time. Perhaps they all thought they would have to return to their given occupations, not knowing what the future was at that point in time.
Like so many of us, when Jesus spoke to them they didn’t recognize Him or His voice. How kind God is to make sure we know it is Him and He gives them something they know all too well – fish. As soon as the fish appear on the right-hand side of their boat, John, the disciples whom Jesus loved (who is writing this story) knew immediately that it was Jesus standing on the beach. Peter, now restored after his denial of Jesus, runs full tilt to Him regardless of the water. He doesn’t care about the fish anymore, but about being near Jesus. But what I notice is that it is a “little boat” and it’s dragging this net that is full of fish. It’s a heavy load for whatever size boat it was. God’s blessings are always bigger than the container we think might hold it. But there is more…
Jesus asked them to “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” We know from reading this, that they didn’t really catch those fish. Jesus directed the fish into their net and yet Jesus gives them the credit. What a humble Savior! And then this net, which had to be dragged by a boat, is drawn to the shore by Peter himself. What strength we gain when we see Jesus and experience His work in us and in others.
The details are so rich: The fish were large fish, not scrawny or sickly fish. God doesn’t bless us with meager supply, or second-hand supply. He gives generously and without reproach. 153 large fish is a lot of fish! And then here is the detail I just love, “And although there were so many, the net was not torn.” When God blesses those He loves, it will not ruin, injure or in any way harm the one being blessed. Sometimes we’re afraid of what might happen “if” God blessed us. Will we be able to “handle” the blessing? Will it require something of me that I don’t have? This kind of thinking is a trap because it keeps us dependent on our abilities and not on God’s abilities. If God’s blessings were dependent on our ability to handle them, we might never ask for anything again. Deep down we know we are weak and can’t handle things as we’d like to.
Maybe you are afraid of what others will think (judge you) if God blesses you. This is simply fear of rejection. Sometimes life treats us harshly – maybe you were punished or hurt for being blessed somewhere along the way and now you are afraid of having anything good because you don’t want to be punished again. This is the crafty way of the devil – to mar God’s image. God, our good Father, was pleased to see all our sin punished in Jesus at the cross. All punishment has been dealt out and all the judgment due us fell on Jesus. There is no longer punishment for those who believe in the work Jesus did for them on the cross! That is the good news of the gospel. Jesus got what we deserved so that we get what we don’t deserve – all God’s goodness and blessing and favor! This is the essence of grace.
God wants to bless you beyond your imagination. He wants to bring the fish “to you” like He did for the disciples. His blessings will not tear your net either. And, His blessing will “fit” your life. Jesus fed 5000 and 4000 with just bread and fish, and here, in this event, there is bread and fish – two things they knew well. Don’t be afraid that God will take you where you don’t want to go, ask you to do things you don’t want to do or take things from you in order to teach you a lesson. No! God is out to bless you in a way that speaks to you personally. Perhaps the blessing you need is already in your life but you need more of it. Sometimes His blessings come in new forms, or in ways it has not come before, even if you have put time and effort into it like the disciples did. It won’t hurt you but only help you and enrich your life. And, it will be such that you will have leftovers to give to others. So receive His blessing knowing there is nothing to fear in being blessed. Allow Jesus to send you exactly what you need and never fear Him or His favor and provision!