What Are You Waiting For?

Blog / Produced by The High Calling
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Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.”

(John 21:3)

What do you do on the day after you’ve seen the fulfillment of all prophecy?

You go fishing!

In the previous few days, the disciples have seen Jesus’ death and resurrection, followed by a stunning series of appearances and miracles. Their emotions have careened from abject despair to inarticulate elation.

Then, once again, Jesus disappears.

The apostles, naturally, are a bit confused. What should they do next? According to John’s gospel, Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee (John and James), and “two others of his disciples” eventually find themselves at the Sea of Tiberias.

In this pivotal moment, Simon Peter utters the immortal words, “I am going fishing.”


To modern ears, that sounds an awful lot like, “Well, I’m heading out to play Frisbee” or “I guess I’ll go do some needlework.”

But Peter and several of his closest friends were—first and foremost—fishermen. That’s how they identified themselves. That’s what they were doing when Jesus found them. And they were apparently pretty good at it, too. Luke 4 tells us that Peter had a home big enough to house his extended family, and it seems from John’s account that he (or a group of the disciples corporately) owned a boat.

So they went to work. They went fishing.

They could either sit around waiting for Jesus’ next appearance, or they could return to the only other thing they really knew how to do. Fishing. Peter has a family to feed. We don’t know if any of the other apostles were married, but it seems likely at least some were. Plus, others depended on their catch. Fishing provided a necessary service to the community.

There are risks involved here. Jesus could suddenly reappear with other urgent tasks for them. Or they might miss an important message or call.

And fishing itself is always a risk. Storms crop up unexpectedly—and the disciples had already survived a few nasty ones.

Still, they threw themselves into their work. Fishing was what they knew best. Until they’d met Jesus, it was all that they had known.

The story picks up again in John 21:4. They fish all night—unsuccessfully. At dawn, Jesus shows up, although no one recognizes Him in the misty half-light. He instructs them to toss their nets on the other side of their boat. They do—and their catch threatens to swamp their small ship. At this moment the “Disciple Whom Jesus Loved” (John) shouts, “It is the Lord!” And Peter pulls a Forrest Gump—jumping into the water and flailing his way to the shore.

When the other fishermen finally reach shore, Jesus is preparing a breakfast of grilled fish and bread. If they weren’t sure before they’d been doing the right thing, they are now.

There are times in our lives when we don’t know what to do, when we’re in between momentous events, when we’re impatiently waiting for God’s call.

In times like these, it is often good to lose ourselves in our work.

In times like these, work is more than just a distraction. It is a blessing.