Sunday, July 31, 2016

153 Fishes

Beautiful and I enjoying the breeze as we sit in the sun room reading and discussing the twenty-first chapter of John's gospel.  We see Jesus's disciples about 100 yards offshore in a "small ship" engaged in a futile attempt to make a catch.  Jesus, standing on shore, tells them to cast the net on the other side of the boat.1  They caught so many fish that the boat would  not draw the net.  John told Peter, "It is Jesus," whereupon Peter, who was naked, put on a cloak and belted it.  Then he stepped into the sea and other of the disciples in a nearby boat went to the aid of the first in dragging the net to shore. was near a bed of coals on which were cooking fish and bread.  "Bring your fish," he said.  Peter drew the net filled with "great fish," even 153 fish.  Here Beautiful and I had a discussion about the significance of the number 153.  We'll have to cogitate on that a bit more.2  

Jesus said, "Come and dine."  Then follows the conversation in which Jesus asked Peter three times, "Do you love me?"  At the third questioning Peter was grieved and Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."  Then we hear Jesus say, "When you were young you dressed yourself and walked wherever you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and another will dress you and take you where you don't want to go."

At our age, we observed, this requires no explanation or interpretation.  We get it.

Then the greatest two-word commandment of Christ:  "Follow me."  And we have arrived at the crux of the message.

I was reading Pastor Pete Wilson a few days ago.  He observed that all Christians are followers of Jesus, but we do not all walk in the same path.  Beautiful and I were discussing this.  I believe we grasp his point in that we all have different offices, different paths, in the same mission, namely "Go and make disciples."  But she observed that the paths all converge before we pass into our eternal reward, for "Strait is the gate and narrow the way that leads into life everlasting."

She nailed it.

1This was Christ's third appearance to his disciples following his resurrection.
2We have studied this scriptural curiosity a bit more and found that many Bible scholars have puzzled over it, some proposing ideas or theories concerning the importance of the number 153 but there seems to be no widely-held belief on the subject 


Vee said...

Great insights by you and by Beautiful.

While on faculty at a Christian university, a business professor spoke during chapel about this Scripture. The title of his talk was, "The First Breakfast," (Jesus again breaking bread but this time serving fish with the bread). Prof Mike connected this to the mission of being fishers of men. As we came in we were handed little bags of Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. (This, I think, was intended to represent the difference between the Business Division budget and the Education Division budget. It would have been a single Goldfish cracker per attendee from our division.)

I found something about the significance of 153 in this account. Thought you might find it to be interesting reading.

vanilla said...

Vee, that is too funny: one Goldfish per attendee if provided by the Ed Div. I have found that many people have puzzled over the "153," many of them proposing "answers."
One I liked but see no reason why John would have hidden it in the scripture was the assertion which I have not verified that there are 153 references in the Book of Genesis to the Hebrew symbols which represent the "I Am," the JHWH which we interpret as Jehovah or Yaweh.

Thanks for the Steffens article. It is interesting, although whereas they asserted that Peter disrobed and stepped into the water, the Scripture I read asserts that Peter was fishing naked and upon being told the figure on the shore was Jesus he put on a robe and girded it. I take this as Peter's sign of respect for his Lord. Probably in a deeper sense which we did not go into in this post the entire 21st chapter is a redemption and forgiveness story, for Peter thrice denied Christ and here we see Jesus interrogate Peter, asking him thrice, "Do you love me?" Then he commissioned Peter to "Feed my sheep."

Jim Grey said...

I really love Pastor Wilson's observation that all of us followers are not walking the same path. But I like even more your wife's observation that our paths all eventually converge. You've got a real theologian there!

vanilla said...

Jim, I am blessed to have a companion with whom I can discuss important issues.

Sharkbytes said...

Interesting discussion. Maybe 153 fish was just a fact.

Sharkbytes said...

Oh gosh! I know why... for Bible Trivia players 2000 years later.

vanilla said...

Sharkey, I rather lean to your first suggestion. As to the second, maybe. There are Bible Trivia players but I have always held that there is nothing trivial in the Bible. Curious, perhaps, but not trivial.

Vee said...

Looking at the date/times on your most recent responses, Vanilla, and am wanting a report about how the afternoon went. Texted beautiful but did not hear back.

Sharkbytes said...

Well, that begs the question. If 153 fish is not significant, then I suppose it would be trivial, and destined for lesser-known factoids of Scriptural information. I mean... is it significant that Esau was ruddy? There's probably no deep spiritual meaning in that- all red heads are destined to be hungry and short-sighted?

vanilla said...

Vee, my response via email.

Sharkey, oh, I think the catch was significant. Why are we told the number? To emphasize the significance? Ruddy Esau? A warning: gingers will steal your soul.
Another question. Why is vanilla so inconsistent that he uses two forms for the plural of "fish" in the same article?
Be blessed today!