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The Gospel of John: Manifesting God’s Glory Book 5

Jesus manifested God's glory through 8 miraculous signs in the gospel of John. These are a revelation of the feast of tabernacles.

Category - Bible Commentaries

Chapter 17

The Nets

At the start of Jesus’ ministry, when He first began to call His disciples, He went to the Sea of Galilee and found some who had fished all night and had caught nothing. He told them to go back and cast their nets again, and this time they caught “a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break” (Luke 5:6).

This was when Jesus first called Simon Peter and told him, “from now on you will be catching men” (Luke 5:10).

Two Nets

Hence, it was appropriate that at the end of their training, they again caught a multitude of fish. John 21:11 says, “although there were so many, the net was not torn.” The obvious difference between the two fishing events (three years apart) was that the first time the nets were torn, and at the end, the nets were not torn. Prophetically speaking, this was a major difference.

When nets tear, the fish escape. It does not matter how many fish were in the net; what matters is how many the fishermen bring to shore. This seems to relate directly to the laws of devotion, where, as we have seen, no one is able to snatch the devoted ones out of Jesus’ hand (John 10:28, 29). Once a “field” or anything else is devoted to God, it is irreversible and cannot be redeemed or taken back again (Lev. 27:28).

In the end, all things will be devoted to God, for that is what the law prophesies. However, the disciples’ net was torn when they were first called, for they had not yet been trained to be fishers of men. It was only at the end, after their training was complete, that they were capable of catching men and bringing them to Jesus at the shore.

The training made the difference. The disciples now understood the meaning of His crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, and of His presentation to the Father, and this equipped them fully. They had been believers for three years; now they were overcomers. They had been disciples; now they were about to be sent out as apostles.

They finally believed all of the things that Jesus had said during their training period, and now they were in agreement. Their previous way of thinking could not bring in ALL of the fish; now they could agree with Jesus when He said, “I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will drag all men to Myself (in the great net of heaven).”

From Pentecost to Tabernacles

The disciples were first called at the climax of the Passover Age (from Moses to Christ). Their time of preparation resulted in being sent out on the day of Pentecost. Their mission became the mission of all who came after them during the Pentecostal Age.

However, Pentecost itself, being a leavened feast (Lev. 23:17), was an age of training. It lasted forty Jubilees and included many generations of trainees. As I have shown elsewhere, the reign of King Saul was a type of the Pentecostal Age. He reigned forty years; Pentecost reigned forty Jubilees (40 x 49 years). Then we began to transition into the Tabernacles Age, which is to last a thousand years.

Just as the disciples were unskilled as fishers of men until their training was complete, so also has the Pentecostal Age proved to be insufficient until the end of the age. The problem was not the Holy Spirit. The problem was the leaven in the hearts of those who refused to apply the baptism of the fiery law to root out lawlessness and to instill in them the nature of Christ.

Like Saul, the church became lawless, except for the remnant whose eyes were healed and who were trainable. The church did indeed catch many fish, especially during the “revivals,” but in such times their nets were torn, and many fish returned to the sea of humanity.

But at the end of the Pentecostal Age, God began to do a new thing to put the finishing touches on our training as fishers of men.

The Two Nets of Prayer

In 1976 God led a prophet named Chuck-JOHNEL to form what he called “The Net of Prayer.” It was built upon the New Testament story where Jesus told the disciples to cast their nets into the lake. I heard about it in 1979 and followed from afar until I was caught up in its first prayer campaign that began November 12, 1981.

At the time, I did not know what was happening, nor did I know the nature of the spiritual battle, nor did I even know that God had joined me to the Net of Prayer. Yet I found myself in an intense spiritual battle. This was a life-changing experience, and I was never the same after that.

A little over a year later, on January 17, 1983, I formally joined the NOP. That was when I gave mental assent to what had already occurred earlier on a spiritual level.

My training to become a fisher of men then began. It was revealed to me that my training would be for twelve years (1981-1993). During those years, I learned how to hear His voice, and I discovered that it was just as important to hear without idols in the heart—i.e., without strong opinions, assumptions, and man-made traditions that would hinder Him from altering my views, character, and behavior.

In July 1986 God told me through twelve witnesses that I was to leave the NOP. One word said specifically, “Call the new Net of Prayer to prayer,” but idols in my heart would not allow this. I abhorred the idea of starting what would be perceived as a rival organization. So I remained another three years (which caused me trouble). I finally resigned in October 1989.

Then after nearly ten years of training, on May 28, 1991 (the day of the Second Passover that year) I awoke with the revelation to study the laws of devotion. I discovered that the Hebrew word cherem, “devotion,” also meant “a net.” Micah 7:2 uses the term in that way.

God used this to tell me again to “call the new Net of Prayer to prayer.” The “net” was for those being devoted to God, as I have described earlier. I finally understood that the New Testament speaks of two nets being cast out. The first was patterned after Luke 5:6; I was to establish the second, which was patterned after John 21:11.

I began to make preparations, and two years later (November 21-29, 1993) we held our first prayer campaign which we named the Jubilee Prayer Campaign. This happened to be the fortieth year of Jubilee since the church was established at Pentecost in Acts 2. The Pentecostal Age was ending, and we were transitioning into the Tabernacles Age. King Saul died, and David was being crowned king. All of this I wrote about in my 2008 book, The Wars of the Lord.

In 1993 a great shift took place in the course of Kingdom history. I came to understand this by personal revelation and by studying the laws of time, which I set forth in my book, Secrets of Time. Our overall mission is based on the belief that the nets will not break, that all men will be drawn (literally dragged) to God by the power of His own sovereign will. We cannot separate this calling from the understanding of the restoration of all things.

Peter’s Reaction

After catching a huge quantity of fish, the disciples knew that it was Jesus who had told them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat. John 21:7, 8 says,

7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved [i.e., John] said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away [literally, “two hundred cubits”], dragging the net full of fish.

Presumably, Peter swam to shore to greet Jesus more quickly. If he had walked on the water again, no doubt John would have mentioned this.

Breakfast is Served

When the boat reached the shore, Jesus had already fixed breakfast for the disciples. John 21:9 says,

9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread.

It was a full breakfast, although it appears that He did not have enough fish to feed all of them. Hence in the next verse, we read in John 21:10, 11,

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish, which you have now caught.” 11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Here is where the eighth sign coincides with the first. The marriage feast at Cana in John 2 was where Jesus had turned 153 gallons of water into wine, as I explained earlier. The corresponding sign here in John’s parallelism has 153 fish being brought to shore. The numeric value of the Hebrew beni h’ Elohim, “sons of God,” is 153. Hence, the fish being gathered represent the sons of God.

They start out as children of this world order, swimming in the lake, but when devoted to God through the net, they become the sons of God.

This then serves as a conclusion to John’s statement at the beginning. John 1:12 says,

12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

The eight signs in John are designed to bring forth the sons of God, for that is the conclusion of his gospel. The Hebrew word for “gospel” is basar, which also means “flesh.” In our study of John 6:53-55 we saw how the gospel was defined in terms of eating Jesus’ flesh. We must keep this in mind when reading how Jesus fixed breakfast for His disciples.

John 21:12, 13 concludes,

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise.

Jesus’ appearance was not the same as when they walked with Him for three years. When they were out in the lake in the dim light, there may have been a reason why they could not recognize Him at a distance. But even up close, it appears that they still did not recognize Him by sight. They had to discern Him by the spirit.

The fish, of course, represent the sons of God, including the firstborn Son of God. By giving them fish to eat, it spiritually signifies eating His flesh in order to have fellowship with Him. But we are what we eat, and the whole point of eating Christ’s flesh is to show that we are part of Him, that is, His body. For this reason, the sons of God can also be “eaten” by others in the same way. Those who believe their testimony are eating them, spiritually speaking.

The fourth sign, if you recall, is where Jesus broke the bread and gave it to His disciples, who in turn broke the bread further and fed the 5,000. All of this was a lesson about Communion, where Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is My body” (Matt. 26:26). And when the disciples did the same, they said (in effect) to the 5,000, “Take, eat; this is my body.”

We are thus offered in service to God as living sacrifices and as divine agents and sons of God. We testify from the heart what we have seen and heard, and others are able to partake of us. So Paul says in His discussion of Communion in 1 Cor. 10:16, 17,

16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.

Communion, then, is a bond of covenant between those who share in the body of Christ. Not only is He the Bread of life, born in Bethlehem, the “House of Bread,” but we are in Him and are also part of the bread of God.

The sons of God (153 fish) are called to feed the world, knowing that in the Tabernacles Age to come the net will not be broken.