So Simon Peter went and pulled the net onto the shore. It was full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three in all. The net wasn’t torn, even though there were so many.
Why does John tell us that they caught 153 fish? Such specificity.
Well, it could simply be that they counted up their catch, and he’s giving a matter-of-fact report on the number.
But could there be more? As we’ve mentioned before, John writes on two levels, inviting us to look below the surface.
Interestingly, St, Jerome noted that Greek zoologists knew of just 153 kinds of fish at this point in history.
Many scholars feel John is telling us something spiritual here, something beyond the literal number of fish these guys caught (though not taking away the fact that they did haul in a plethora of fishies).
Jesus called His followers to be fishers of people. It is quite likely that John is saying that followers of Jesus will catch every single kind of person. That they’re (we’re) being sent out to everybody. That though not every individual will accept, every kind of person will become a follower of Jesus.
Hopefully, this is an encouragement to be bold in our witness, because all types (literally every type) of people will be “caught.”
Yes, even Trump-supporting conservatives.
Yes, even progressive liberals.
Yep, even Catholics…and Baptists!
And mega church attendees.
And homeless people,
So be bold. Be confident in Jesus. Be faithful in John’s subtle message at the end of his gospel account.
Be trusting in the truth that casting your net where Jesus tells you to will result in catching all types of people. Not just many kinds of people, but every kind of person.
Please note that this is one theory behind the significance of the number of fish being 153. But even if this is not what John intended, I believe the message of catching people in abundance and all types still stands.