Our Gospel today, from Chapter Twenty-one of John’s Gospel seems to be an addition to John’s original Gospel. The story of casting the net on the right side seems to be a retelling of the story of the great catch of fish early in Matthew’s Gospel that had Peter saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man.”
Let me point to the conclusion of Chapter Twenty, which immediately preceded today’s Gospel. It seemed to be the original conclusion of John’s Gospel. Verses thirty and thirty-one state:
“Now, Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples that are not written here, But these have been recorded that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.”
John there referred to the incidents in his Gospel as more than stories. They are all signs written to help us see two things: first that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and secondly, through believing in him we have life.
If you assigned yourself the task of reading John’s Gospel from beginning to end; instead of just plowing through page after page, you should savor the way each story contributes to one or both of the beliefs John was emphasizing. For instance, reading from Chapter Two through Four you will see how the changing of water into wine at Cana in Chapter Two had the disciples only beginning to believe in Jesus as the Messiah. Nicodemus in Chapter Three would only grant that Jesus was a holy man come from God. It took the Samaritan woman to say, “I have found the Messiah.”
Then, Chapters Six, Seven, and Eight each reveal more about how we have life through believing in him. In Chapter Six he is the Bread of Life. In Chapter Seven Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture said, ‘Rivers of living water will flow within him.’” In Chapter Eight Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness.”
Hopefully John’s Gospel will strengthen in each of us a belief that will carry on to eternal life.