Throw In the Net, Not the Towel


“Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened.  Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was.  He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.”

John 21:1-6 (NLT)


A Reflection

From Ellen G. White’s The Ministry of Healing, the chapter entitled “By The Sea Once More,” p. 810.*

All the while a lone watcher upon the shore followed them with His eye, while He Himself was unseen. At length the morning dawned. The boat was but a little way from the shore, and the disciples saw a stranger standing upon the beach, who accosted them with the question, “Children, have ye any meat?” When they answered, ‘No,’ He said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” . . .

     Vividly they recalled the scene beside the sea when Jesus had bidden them follow Him. They remembered how, at His command, they had launched out into the deep, and had let down their net, and the catch had been so abundant as to fill the net, even to breaking. Then Jesus had called them to leave their fishing boats, and had promised to make them fishers of men. It was to bring this scene to their minds, and to deepen its impression, that He had again performed the miracle. His act was a renewal of the commission to the disciples. It showed them that the death of their Master had not lessened their obligation to do the work He had assigned them. Though they were to be deprived of His personal companionship, and of the means of support by their former employment, the risen Saviour would still have a care for them. While they were doing His work, He would provide for their needs. And Jesus had a purpose in bidding them cast their net on the right side of the ship. On that side He stood upon the shore. That was the side of faith. If they labored in connection with Him—His divine power combining with their human effort—they could not fail of success.


ELLEN G. WHITE (1827-1915), one of the most published authors in the world, named one of the “100 Most Significant Americans of All Time” by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, was a co-founder of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

*You can read The Desire of Ages in its entirety online at

This article is part of our 2020 March / April Issue
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Have you ever felt that you were distant from God? You knew better but you did not do better? Maybe you believe that because you grew up in church but don’t go that you slipped out of God’s good graces. It is time to stop thinking like that. Join us as we get some clarity about a God who is watching and waiting.


1) Read John 21:1-2; John 1:35-51;
John 19:28-37

The disciples had walked side by side with Jesus for three years. Can you imagine the emotional trauma they must have experienced watching the One who had done so much to save people’s lives do nothing to save His own? How hard it must have been to follow Jesus after you felt like He was gone forever. Have you ever found it difficult to continue to believe in God or keep the faith? Tell us about it on social media using #MessageMag.

2) Read John 21:1-2

The disciples have seen that Jesus is alive and has risen from the dead, but they cannot seem to find it in themselves to get back to ministering and loving the masses as Jesus had shown them. Instead they are sitting at the beach doing nothing. How is it possible to know Jesus is alive, yet not want to show the love He’s shown you? Give us your opinion on social media using #MessageMag.

3) Read John 21:3; Matthew 4:19

As the disciples are sitting there an idea comes to Peter’s mind. As a former fisherman, the idea came naturally to him. The problem is that Jesus had told him to be a “fisher of men.” Sometimes when people deal with disappointment it causes them to resort to unproductive options. Have you ever dealt with disappointment? What advice would you give to someone who struggles with overwhelming disappointment? Share on Social Media using #MessageMag.

4) Read John 21:3; Luke 9:62;
Galatians 6:9

The Bible gives an interesting detail about how the disciples fished all night and caught nothing. Remembering that a few of them were fishermen by profession makes this interesting. They had returned to a life that Jesus called them out of, but got nothing out of it. Have you ever tried to go back to doing the things you did before you met Jesus but only felt empty? You are not alone. Take some time to remember in prayer the place, the choices, the status from where Jesus brought you. We’ll be praying with you!

5) John 21:4-5; Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:58

See it with me. The disciples busy themselves doing exactly what Jesus took them away from.  We tend to think God pushes away those who do this, but here, Jesus shows otherwise. While the disciples are wasting their time doing what God told them not to do; He is watching over them! Do you know someone who has put some distance between themselves and God? Make a phone call or send a text letting them know that God is still watching them with a heart full of love.   

6) Read John 21:6-8

Not only does Jesus keep His eyes on them while they are being disobedient, He speaks to them. He asks about what they’ve been doing, and then gives them direction that addresses their disappointment. As they pull on the net and it is too heavy for them to handle, John realizes who is giving them directions. Isn’t it funny how it is often as we try to handle things too heavy for us that we see Jesus more clearly? Is that your experience? Have you dealt with something that you could not handle on your own and it was during that time that you realized more about who Jesus is? Share with us your experience on Social Media using #MessageMag.

7) Read John 21:9

The irony of this story is that while the disciples were out trying to catch fish, Jesus already had some. We don’t realize that what we think we desire most, God already has. He is simply watching and waiting for us to realize that He loves us from afar and hopes to draw us back to Himself.


Rashad Burden is the pastor of the Mount Olive and Shiloh Seventh-day Adventist Churches in Southern Alabama.

This article is part of our 2020 March / April Issue
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