by Frans Bakker
As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. —John 21:9
Everything is God’s work. That can be read so clearly inbetween the lines of this text. A meal is ready, just like that. The disciples didn’t have to do anything for it. They did not light the fire. They did not bake the bread. They did not catch the fish. On the contrary, they toiled the whole night long and caught nothing. The only reason why they did catch something later on was because the Lord Jesus told them to cast the net on the other side. But during that night they themselves caught nothing, not even a few fish for breakfast.
It was not by chance that the disciples caught nothing that night. It was the King’s guidance. He glorified His Name by means of empty nets. He empties in order to fill. The disciples are going to learn that morning that they need add nothing. God will provide all their needs. As they arrive on the shore, breakfast is ready. Their King took care of that. There is fish on the fire, ready to be eaten, but it was not the fish they caught on the right-hand side of the boat. It was all His work. There was nothing from themselves. And God is glorified in this meal. The whole night the disciples wrestled in vain to catch something. Now everything is ready and they did nothing for it. That is how the Lord deals with His people. He bestows them with gifts that they did not earn, with goods that they did not gain, and with bread that they did not grow.
This miracle becomes a great encouragement to those who, like the disciples, wrestle to gain something in their own power. They can wrestle and struggle to receive something from heaven but they wrestle in vain. The all-wise guidance of the Lord teaches His people that “it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy” (Rom. 9:16). He lets His children work until they cannot do it anymore and thereby makes room for Himself. When the Lord prepares a meal for them, they have to confess that they did nothing for it. God’s people never eat of their own work; they eat of God’s wonderful works. That is how He treats His people and His Name is glorified in the process.
This breakfast meal is a foretaste of the marriage supper of the Lamb. It is how the church will be received on the eternal shores. They will not enter in with their own catch, with their wrestling, with their tears, their struggles, or their labor. But they will eat forever what God has prepared for them in His good pleasure. There they will harvest what they never planted. It will be all of Him and nothing of them. The eternal food comes from the risen Christ. It would have been eternal famine if He had not risen.
That is why hungry ones are invited. To them it is said, “Come and dine.” They shall know Him and say, “It is the Lord.” Then they will eat God’s wonderful provisions forever. The greater the wonder, the more God is glorified in His good pleasure.
From The Everlasting Word by Frans Bakker, compiled and translated by Gerald R. Procee. Reformation Heritage Books and Free Reformed Publications, 2007. Used by permission. For further information, click here.