After Jesus was resurrected, the third time he appeared was on the sea shore. He had a camp fire burning and fish cooking. Several of the disciples were fishing. They didn't catch anything the night before and they weren't catching anything on this particular morning.
It was early in the morning when he stood on the shore and called out to the disciples, "Friends, haven't you any fish?"
"No," they answered. They didn't recognize him.
Jesus suggests they cast their nets on the other side of the boat. He said they would catch some. Instead, when they cast on the opposite side of the boat, they were unable to haul in the net because of the large number of fish.
It is then they recognize Jesus. Peter gets so excited he leaps out of the boat and runs to the shore. The other disciples followed in the boat because they were only a few yards off of shore. Peter helps them pull in the net.
There were 153 fish.
Someone counted the fish. I bet it was Peter.
Peter, who denied Jesus three times after her was crucified and before the rooster crowed the next morning. Peter who was outspoken and passionate. Peter who loved Jesus more than anything.
Jesus is standing on the shore, making breakfast and someone is counting the fish.
153. The fish were large.
153. The nets did not break.
153. The celebration was noticed.
Peter messed up and was probably feeling a little down about denying Jesus. They are fishing and it's miserable. There's nothing filling their nets. I imagine they were tired. Then, in the early morning hours, things change.
They listened to Jesus.
It was a simple request -- cast your nets on the other side of the boat -- yet, I can imagine the disciples rolling their eyes and shrugging their shoulders. They didn't know they were going to catch fish. They didn't even know it was Jesus. They weren't paying attention.
Then, in an instant, things change.
The net is full and they see clearly that it's Jesus.
They haul in the fish -- all 153 of them -- and they eat breakfast together. Meanwhile someone counts the fish. It's significant -- 153 is documented in scripture.
Maybe the secret to finding celebration in the midst of the muddle and the hard and the bitter, is to count the fish. Peter was still reeling from betraying Jesus. They were tired of fishing and not catching anything all night. They didn't know what they were supposed to do, how they were supposed to minister.
Then they counted those fish and things changed.
They sat and ate breakfast with the Savior on the beach. I like to think the disciples hearts expanded that morning and they realized they were loved with an abundance.
153 fish. This is what celebration does. It expands our hearts.