Although I have not done this in many years, whilst on the West Coast I learnt to make a “fish braai” (fish barbeque). There are a variety of ways to do this, from cutting the fish open completely to cutting the gut opening, cleaning it and stuffing it with tomato and onion or if the fish is a large one, cutting from the spine downwards and filling it with tomato and onion or whatever you prefer. I like to braai an open snoek, turning it regularly and painting it with a sauce. Prices of fish have increased, particularly inland, but when we lived at the coast many people ate fish because it was cheap and easily accessible. As we have seen with the disciples of Jesus, fishing is hard work, but it is a means of
(1) an income and
(2) putting food on the table.
1) A fish braai (barbeque) on the beach.
Jn 21:9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
We get the idea of straight out of the water and onto the fire. This is the best and freshest way to have a fish braai. I don’t want to venture into how Jesus obtained both the fish and bread He was grilling. What I would prefer to say is that if Jesus put fish on the braai, apart from His message to Peter (See Acts 10:9-11:14), then eating meat is condoned by Him who is ultimately Almighty God. To refrain from eating meat because of choice is not a sin as is eating meat not a sin.
2) A vivid illustration to demonstrate who Jesus is.
Jn 21:10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.
(1) Jesus told them to add some of their catch to what was already on the fire.
(2) The Greek word for “large includes both “mass and weight” meaning that the fish were huge and very heavy.
(3) Even though these 153 fish were so large and heavy, the net, which would normally have broken under such excessive weight did not. These three things were a message in themselves to the disciples.
Jn 21:12 None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.
To bring proof of your catch; catching such huge fish and then the net not breaking was sufficient proof not to ask who this man was … They knew it as Jesus!
3) The invitation to breakfast.
Jn 21:12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
Come dine with me. After being at sea all night and then eventually getting a catch, all the hard work and toil not only exhausted them but would have made them hungry. But there was another thing … this was fellowship. We enjoyed a Church braai recently to welcome the new pastor. The bishop was there together with quite a number of congregants, guests and children. It was a great time of fellowship … and it was Biblical. Take both this passage and Acts 2:46:
Ac 2:46 They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.
Christian fellowship around a meal is a wonderful time of getting to know and enjoy the Body of Christ as well as listening, caring and sharing. It is here that you become aware that your eternal family adds value to your expression of Gospel faith.
4) Servanthood demonstrated … again!
Jn 21:13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.
One of the greatest teaching methods Jesus used was visual aids. In this case He was the visual aid. He served his disciples, who were most likely seated on the sand, giving them bread and then fish to eat. This reminds one of a pre-crucifixion demonstration. Although lengthy, it provides servanthood information:
Jn 13:4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” 9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” 10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
We must not misunderstand the example of what Jesus is doing here. He was making feet washing ceremonies part of Christianity! He was doing the work of the lowest servant in the house. Verse 14-15 are crucial to grasp. It is agreed that Jesus is both Lord and Teacher, yet He does the most menial task of a servant and sets an example of servanthood for his disciples and all believers. He adds that they are now without any excuse because they know what He requires of them. Let us spend a little time looking at some of these matters arising from the passage.
(a) The Sovereignty of the Lord Jesus. This passage reveals through knowing where the fish would be to preparing a braai with fish and bread on the beach that Jesus is unquestionably God. I want to encourage you to hold this firmly in your heart and mind. Jesus is God incarnate. God revealed Himself to us in Jesus. Jesus is not just a man or a miracle worker or a story teller or an exorcist. He is the One, True, Living God. (b) Fellowshipping as Believers. The Bible encourages us as followers of the Lord to spend quality time with each other in fellowship. Do not use “lack of time or resources” to escape fellowship. Coffee can take 30 minutes!
(c) Demonstrating the Gospel and Christlikeness through Servanthood. One of the greatest problems in the Church today is one of servanthood. People attend Church and slip away. People give their tithes and believe they pay for others to “work”. Jesus requires both … that we tithe and that we serve.
O Lord, help me to model Your teaching and enjoy the spiritual benefits. Amen.