Actions speak louder than words. Jesus used action to reveal Himself to several disciples after His resurrection. Two travelers to Emmaus recognized Him only as He broke bread with them.1 Thomas surrendered when he saw the open wounds in His risen body.2
More happened on a fishing trip in Galilee. Six disciples, including James and John, followed Peter’s suggestion to go night-fishing. By dawn they had caught nothing. Tired and frustrated, they were packing up when a man on the shore yelled 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. (John 21:5-7)
While Peter sloshed to shore, the other six strained to tow the bursting net; it was too heavy to lift into the boat. Peter then hauled it onto the beach and they began counting—just for the record. One hundred and fifty-three. High-fives all round. They had not seen a catch like this for a long time.
But it was not the first time. Peter, James and John remembered so well that time a few years earlier when Jesus performed a similar miracle. That time, they managed to get the bulging net into a couple of boats without sinking them. That time made such an impression on them that they left everything and pursued Jesus to learn to fish for men. Here they were, about three years later, eating breakfast with this awesome man, Jesus. His knowledge and abilities surpassed normal human capacities and He had just returned to life after an excruciating death.
Not only was the risen Jesus revealing Himself again to His disciples, He was also rebooting the call on their lives. Not a word was spoken. His actions said everything. “Remember.”
“Remember who I am.
Remember what I am able to do.
Remember what I called you to.
Remember all that you have seen and done with me since you started to follow.
Remember the words that I spoke that have come to pass.
Remember the promises I gave you about the future.”
Sometimes God takes us into circumstances that seem like spiritual déjà-vu; in fact, they are a reminder of what He has said and done in the past. They serve as confirmation of His commitment to us and as an assurance that He has forgiven us. Most of all, they gently thrust us back to obeying the call on our lives.
As soon as breakfast was over, Jesus called out Peter’s love for Him and pointed him to a new version of fishing for men, “Tend my sheep.”3