it’s déjà vu all over again! | John 21.9-11
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. John 21.9-11 | ESV
No sooner had they stepped foot on land than what do they see? A charcoal fire well under way (another déjà vu moment for the Rock from the dreaded priestly courtyard with its echoing rooster crow) with fish on the fire – and loaves of bread (déjà vu all over again – to the tune of 5,000!). Then Jesus tells them: “Now let’s add some of what you just caught to what I already have going here!” The fishermen had, of course, left their record catch flapping in the water, so Peter waded back in and hauled the net up on the beach (talk about adrenalin rush!). The net was filled with HUGE fish – all told, one-hundred-fifty-three of them! And the net hadn’t so much as snapped a single thread. MAV (Mike’s Authorized Version)
Give God credit: he knows how to set a table.
Repeated déjà vu moments on the shore: A charcoal fire around which we last saw Peter warming himself in that high priestly courtyard on that dreadful night filled with fearful denials; loaves and fishes harkening back to that anchoring miracle of all miracles in the feeding of the five thousand – not to mention last supper overtones as the last supper meets the first breakfast. But he’s not content to merely tag these signal events from their recent and more distant past.
He invites them to add to it, to bring what they have just caught to the table. The wise Preacher might have said, “Whatever God does endures forever and nothing can be added to it,” but the truth is he invites us to do just that. “And greater works than these will ye do.” Yes, bring from what you have caught, and add it to what I have prepared for you.
And look at Peter go!
It took two boats and at least six other guys to get the net to shore, but, as John paints the scene, Peter hauls it the rest of the way in by himself. And then they count. Leftovers matter, and every fish counts.
All 153 of them.
And what endless speculation we engage in over that number! Back to Augustine and beyond the debate has raged. Why 153? What is the significance of 153? At least, to my knowledge, no one has died over the issue! Perhaps there is some deep significance – there are always layers, it seems. But then, sometimes a dogfight near a cheese factory is just a dogfight near a cheese factory.
Maybe it’s nothing more than the fact that this was their biggest catch – and their last catch.
And they never forgot it.
Their last catch, added to the first breakfast of a new life.
I think I would remember that number too.
When most recently have you found yourself in your own divinely arranged, marvelous déjà vu moment? What happened?
Lord, thank you for managing to turn the sights, sounds and smells of my worst memories into the renewing aroma of a new day’s breakfast that redefines and reshapes all I have known and been into pure, life-giving grace. Yes, God. Do that again. And show me how to share the meal today. Through Christ.