We have been looking at the post resurrection appearances of Yeshua. We saw that Yeshua's first post resurrection appearance was to Mary, Lazarus' sister at dawn on Sunday morning. Then a little later that day Yeshua appeared to two disciples, who were on their way to the town of Emmaus. Then later that day Yeshua appeared to the apostles, and others who were most likely in the upper room. But Thomas was not with them. So, the next Sunday Yeshua shows up again in a locked room, but this time Thomas is there, and Thomas responds to the Yeshua by saying, "My Lord and my God!" Which is one of the strongest statements affirming the deity of Yeshua in Sacred Scripture! Then Lazarus tells us that he wrote this Gospel to lead his readers to the type of faith that Thomas just articulated. That we too would believe and have life.
Luke tells us that Yeshua's post resurrection appearances lasted for 40 days:
He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. Acts 1:3 ESV
Here Luke stresses the great and central fact of Christian faith: Yeshua is alive! That incomparable fact is what separates Christianity from all religions. Yeshua alive, He has risen from the dead!
Christ showed Himself to the apostles so they would know He had conquered death. One of the greatest proofs of the resurrection is the early church's boldness and commitment in preaching about Christ. The apostles were confident because they had seen the resurrected Christ. Had that not happened, they would have gone back to the routine of life and quit advocating Christianity. There is a list of the people Christ appeared to in:
and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 ESV
There were more than five hundred people who had seen the resurrected Yeshua, and most of them were alive some twenty-five years later in the days of Paul! Those appearances convinced Christ's followers that the Lord had indeed risen.
I see these forty days as a transition period where the Lord's disciples are transitioning from the days of Christ's physical presence to the days after His Ascension when they will physically see Him no more.
Of all the types and shadows of the Scripture, none is as pervasive, and therefore important, as the shadows revealed in the relationship between "forty" and the fulfillment of promises. Throughout the Scriptures, we find this usage of the number forty. Examples of this usage are: the forty days and nights that God caused it to rain upon the face of the earth; also, in the length of the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon (Acts 13:21; 2 Sam. 5:4). Besides these, we see forty used as a temporal shadow in the duration of Jonah's preaching of judgment to the Ninevites (Jon. 3:4), and the number of days that the spies of Canaan searched out the land (Num. 13:25). Christ fasted for forty days and forty nights.
We find the most significant type of all in the forty years of wilderness wandering leading up to the possession of the temporal land of promise. One of the first lessons a student of types and shadows will learn is the lofty place given to the exodus out of Egypt. The exodus out of Egypt and into the promised land by the children of Israel under Moses is a direct shadow of the exodus of the New Testament generation from the cross to the entrance into the New Heavens and Earth, the consummated kingdom of God.
During the forty days between His Resurrection and His Ascension the disciples found themselves relating to Yeshua in an entirely different way. They were formerly with Him day and night. Now, they only saw Him from time to time. Remember what the risen Christ said to Mary?
Yeshua said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" John 20:17 ESV
"Do not cling to me"—Yeshua wasn't saying that Mary couldn't touch Him, but that she could no longer cling to Him in the physical sense. He had not yet ascended to the Father, but He would do so shortly. The resurrection had introduced a new relationship between Yeshua and His disciples, in which physical contact would no longer be possible because He was ascending to the Father in heaven. So, I see these forty days as a time of transition for the disciples. Soon they would need to trust Him even though they could no longer see Him.
As we come to chapter 21, we need to be aware that many critical scholars view chapter 21 as a later addition to John's Gospel, noting that it was anticlimactic after the conclusion of 20:30-31. Many think that chapter 21 was added later, by another author.
In defense of this final chapter, let me say that chapter 21 is quoted by many early Church fathers like Tertullian and it is included in the commentary on the Gospel of John by the early-mid 3rd century biblical scholar Origen without any question of its authenticity. No extant Greek manuscript lacks the last chapter, and there is no serious evidence in the manuscript tradition for later addition. The linguistic evidence shows a number of places where chapter 21 exhibits vocabulary or syntactical constructions typical of chapters 1-20.
Lazarus began this Gospel with a Prologue (1:1-18); it follows that he should end his Gospel with an Epilogue. The Prologue set the stage and the Epilogue closes the curtain on the events of the Fourth Gospel. In the Prologue the Holy Spirit set forth what Christ was before He came from the Father to do His redemptive work. The Epilogue in chapter 21 shows what Christ is after His redemptive work is done, and as He prepares to return to the Father.
So, we are going to look at this last chapter as written by Lazarus just as the rest of the book has been.
After this Yeshua revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. John 21:1 ESV
"After this"—is meta tauta, which establishes sequence, but no chronological details. The time reference here is indefinite. It occurred sometime during the 32-day period between Thomas' confession (20:28) and Yeshua's ascension (Acts 1:9). Exactly when, we don't know.
"Yeshua revealed himself again to the disciples"—this is the third time in this Gospel that Yeshua appears to His disciples. This time He reveals Himself to seven of His disciples as they are fishing on the Sea of Tiberias.
"Sea of Tiberias"—only the Fourth Gospel mentions the lake called the Sea of Tiberias. What is the Sea of Tiberias?
After this Yeshua went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. John 6:1 ESV
This freshwater lake is also known as the Lake of Gennesaret in (Matthew 14:34; Mark 6:53; Luke 5:1). And in the Tanakh it is called Chinneroth.
The Sea of Galilee was known for an abundance of fish, the only freshwater lake in the area. This lake is 13 miles wide and 7 miles long. At its deepest point of the lake is only 150 feet deep. It is located 700 feet below the Mediterranean Sea and surrounded by mountains.
In A.D. 20, about 7-8 years before Yeshua began His ministry, Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, built a new administrative capital on the southwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Herod Antipas dedicated his new city in honor of the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar calling the city Tiberias. Herod Antipas not only named his new city for the emperor, but also renamed the lake in the emperor's honor.
Galilee—what do you know about Galilee? Yeshua was from Nazareth, a small place in the Galilean hills. On the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee you find the city of Capernaum. That was home base for Yeshua through much of what's called His Galilean ministry.
According to the Jewish historian, Josephus, Galilee was an area of about 60 by 30 miles and had 204 villages, with none less than 15,000 people. This means there were more than 3 million people in the extended region. Galilee was a place with a lot of excitement, a lot of life. And this is where Yeshua launched His public ministry.
People tend to think of Jerusalem as the center of learning, and Galilee as some back woods uneducated place. But the level of learning and education in Galilee exceeded that of Judea in Yeshua's day. Galilee surpassed even Judea in its schools of learning, and most of the famous rabbis of Yeshua's day were from Galilee. According to professor Shmuel Safrai, Hebrew University Professor of Jewish History of the period of the Misnah and Talmud, not only did the number of first-century Galilean rabbis known from rabbinic literature exceed the number of Judean rabbis, but even the moral and ethical quality of their teaching excelled that of their Judean counterparts. This is the world where Yeshua ministered.
Why are the disciples in Galilee? Lazarus doesn't explain why the disciples went to Galilee; he just tells us that they did. Mark tells us that they were told by Yeshua and an angel to go to Galilee.
But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." Mark 14:28 ESV
But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." Mark 16:7 ESV
This took them out of Jerusalem and Judea, the source of the strongest Jewish opposition. Like most of the disciples, Peter was a Galilean. These were his "stomping grounds."
"Yeshua revealed himself again to the disciples…he revealed himself in this way"—our text mentions three times Yeshua "revealed Himself" to the disciples. The word is common in Lazarus' writings and conveys the idea of "making visible," or "making known".Lazarus wants us to understand that verses 1-14 reveal Christ. In both verse 1 and 14 the word "reveal" is used to describe the effect of this event.
The "revealing" here is the knowledge which God conveys by direct supernatural means. These disciples could not recognize Christ unless He made Himself known to them. For instance, Mary Magdalene thought He was somebody else; she thought He was the gardener. Luke records that on Resurrection Day, Yeshua came alongside two disciples on the road to Emmaus, discussing all of the things that were happening in regard to Him. They did not know who He was even though they were His disciples, until their eyes were opened. The problem is that apart from divine revelation, the human reasoning powers are limited to the natural realm.
Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. John 21:2 ESV
Here we have Peter, Thomas (whose mention forms a link with the climax of chapter 20), Nathanael; the only other time Nathaniel is mentioned in the New Testament is in 1:45-51, here we learn that this disciple is from "Cana in Galilee." So he is in familiar territory. Then we have "the sons of Zebedee,"who were James and John, though Lazarus had not identified them this way before. Then we have:
"And two others of his disciples"—whydoes he not name these disciples? Where else in this Gospel are there unnamed disciples?
The next day again John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Yeshua as he walked by and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God!" The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Yeshua. John 1:35-37 ESV
Here we have two of John's disciples leaving him to follow Yeshua. Who are these two?
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Yeshua was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. John 1:40 ESV
Here we see that one of the disciples was Andrew. The other one is never named. This would be consistent with the author's practice of not naming himself! It seems safe to assume that when the writer makes any reference to another, unnamed disciple, he has in mind this one particular disciple whom Yeshua loved. It is hard to believe that the writer has a number of different disciples that he is committed to keeping anonymous.
So in our text the two who were not named is consistent with the author's practice of not naming himself! He refers to himself in verse 7, "that disciple whom Yeshua loved."
So we have seven disciples listed here. Lazarus may have been hinting that a complete number of disciples was present. "Seven" was a number that symbolized completeness to the Jews. He may have been implying that the lesson Yeshua taught here was applicable to all of His disciples.
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 ESV
"I am going fishing"—some suggest that on the basis of Peter's comment that he was proposing to return to his former career of fishing. That is seeing way too much significance in the present infinitive; all that Peter was proposing was a fishing trip, perhaps out of economic necessity. Beasley-Murray (p. 399) comments, "Even though Jesus was crucified and risen from the dead, the disciples must still eat!"
If they had been waiting for Yeshua for some time, Peter may have concluded that they may as well occupy themselves by doing something profitable and catch some food to support themselves. And so he announced to his colleagues that he was going fishing.
"They said to him, "We will go with you"—Peter was their unofficial leader and an experienced fisherman, so all seven of them went with him.
"But that night they caught nothing"—Lazarus includes the information that it is night when they go fishing. This is an accurate historical detail. Night fishing is still a custom of fisherman on the Sea of Galilee today. At night the fish are attracted to the phosphorus glow of the algae on the water's surface, and fish caught at night are fresher for sale in the morning.
In the original text there is extra emphasis upon the phrase, "that night." That night they caught nothing, almost as if it was unusual for them to catch nothing. After all they were experienced commercial fishermen.
The fact that they caught nothing may have been because Yeshua wanted to remind the disciples of what He taught them in the upper room in the context of bearing fruit for His kingdom:
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5 ESV
Now I'm not saying that apart from fellowship with Christ you won't be able to catch fish. There are plenty of unbelievers who are good at fishing. But Luke in the context of fishing tells us that Yeshua says, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." So Yeshua may be telling the disciples that their focus needed to be abiding in Him. That was the only way that they would be successful.
Just as day was breaking, Yeshua stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Yeshua. John 21:4 ESV
Dawn was just breaking as the disciples were returning in their boat from the unsuccessful night of fishing. Just as in the two previous appearances recorded in chapter 20, Yeshua seems to have appeared unexpectedly.
The disciples saw Yeshua standing on the beach, and they heard His voice, but they did not know it was Him except through revelation. And that fits every post-resurrection initial appearance of Yeshua. They didn't know it was Yeshua, because during this 40 days of transition He had to reveal Himself to be known. When you have been with someone day and night for over three years, it seems that you would know the outline of their form and recognize the tone of their voice. Yet for the disciples, though they had been with Christ, until He manifested Himself to them, they did not know that the Lord stood on the beach. The same was true of Mary in the garden of the tomb, as well as the two disciples on the Emmaus Road. During these forty days from resurrection to ascension His disciples did not recognize Yeshua unless He revealed Himself to them. Why was this the case? My guess would be that this was the way it was going to be after the ascension. Unless Yeshua opens a persons eyes, they will never see Him for who He is.
Yeshua said to them, "Children, do you have any fish?" They answered him, "No." John 21:5 ESV
"Children, do you have any fish?"—the word "children" is the Greek is paidia. A more literally translation would be "boys," it's a friendly, casual greeting. The form of Yeshua's question in the Greek text assumed a negative answer. This word "fish" is the Greek word prosphagion, which denotes food of any kind that is eaten with bread, but in this context, "fish" is demanded.
Yeshua yells out to them, "You don't have anything to eat do you?" To which they respond, "No."
He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. John 21:6 ESV
"Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some"—anything about this bother you? Why would they listen to someone who they don't know, telling them how to fish? The idea that such an insignificant change would accomplish anything was laughable. Yet, amazingly, the disciples followed Yeshua's orders.
The right side of the ship, the starboard side, some say was regarded in ancient times, as the fortunate side. William Manson, who was a New Testament scholar of about a generation ago, he was professor of New Testament at the University of Edinburgh has written a book called, The Incarnate Glory. And in it he has likened the ship to the church of Yeshua. He's likened the fishing to apostolic mission of fishing for men. And he said that the right side of the ship represented a change of direction for them. And that was John's way and our Lord's way of reminding them that now that the nation has rejected the message, the message of the Gospel will now go out to the Gentiles. I guess that's possible. Remember what Yeshua said:
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. John 10:16 ESV
So, professor Manson may be right. I think that the idea of the Gentile mission is also hinted at later in this text.
"So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish"—this is a miracle, Yeshua is controlling the fish. They catch nothing all night, meaning the Lord kept the fish away from their net, and now He fills their net up.
William Barclay, who cannot be accused of orthodoxy, has a less miraculous explanation. He believed that Yeshua saw a shoal of fish, from His position on the shore, that the disciples could not see, from their position in the boat.
Does this fish story remind you of a similar fish story some of these men had with Yeshua several years ago? Look with me at Luke 5:
On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch." And Simon answered, "Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets." And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Yeshua's knees, saying, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Yeshua said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1-11 ESV
The most obvious and probably the most important difference in these stories is that in Luke 5, Yeshua was in the boat. But in John 21, Yeshua is on the shore. Yeshua, being on the shore, and the disciple on the sea, may symbolize His separation from His disciples. Him being unseen in heaven, and they being on the earth. And what He was teaching them is that He is just as able to care for them when He is in heaven as He was while He was on earth.
In Luke 5:10 Yeshua says, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men." This post-resurrection repetition of the miracle in John 21, would have refreshed their memories of that first catch of fish and reminded them that people, not fish, was now to be their focus. Luke ends his story with, "they left everything and followed him."
That disciple whom Yeshua loved therefore said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. John 21:7 ESV
"That disciple whom Yeshua loved therefore said to Peter, 'It is the Lord!'"—here we see that "the disciple whom Yeshua loved" was one of the seven listed in verse 2. In that list we see that "the sons of Zebedee" are named, one of which was John, and we know that the unnamed "disciple whom Yeshua loved" is present at the same time! So, two of the seven are John and "the disciple who Yeshua loved."This is strong evidence that the "disciple whom Yeshua loved"is notthe Apostle John. Which means .that John is not the author of this book.
How did Lazarus know it was the Lord? It was spiritual insight because of the miracle which enabled him to recognize the stranger on the shore as Yeshua. He calls Him Lord. In some contexts it is simply a polite address, but in others it is a theological affirmation of Yeshua's deity. In this context Lazarus recognized this person on the beach as the sovereign Lord Yahweh.
"When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea"—It was the custom to remove one's outer long garment, and to wear only a breechcloth when fishing. Gentiles usually fished naked. The Jews were particular about public nakedness, and so it is unlikely that the men were fishing without any clothing at all, but were probably wearing their loincloths. That Peter dressed before jumping into the water doesn't make a lot of sense. The Greek word here for "put on" is diazonnumi, this verb has the idea of tying the clothing around oneself. This same verb is used in 13:4-5 of Yeshua tying the towel around Himself. So Peter grabs his outer garment and ties it around himself and jumps in.
Peter's eagerness to get to Yeshua tells me that Yeshua must have personally forgiven and restored Peter on His previous meetings with him. Peter shows no reluctance to see Yeshua face to face here!
The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. John 21:8 ESV
Peter leaves the other disciples and the boat and swims the 100 yards to Yeshua.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. John 21:9 ESV
Lazarus tells us that it was a "charcoal fire" that Yeshua had going. This word for "charcoal fire" anthrakia is only used one other time in Scripture, do you know where? This same word anthrakia is used of the charcoal fire at which Peter had stood when he denied Yeshua (18:18).
Before His crucifixion, Yeshua had served His disciples by washing their feet (13:1-17). Now He continued to serve them as their risen Lord by providing them with a warm fire and breakfast.
Yeshua said to them, "Bring some of the fish that you have just caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. John 21:10-11 ESV
This makes it sound like Peter hauled the net to shore by himself. If that is the case, it suggests that he was a physically strong man.
"Hauled the net ashore"—the word for hauled here is the Greek word helkuo. Does that ring a bell with anyone? Helkuo is best translated, to drag. The usage of this word makes it very clear that helkuo means: "to draw by irresistible superiority." This word is used eight times in the New Testament if you look up all eight uses of helkuo you'll see that they all have the idea of dragging. This is the same word used in:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 ESV
No one, not anyone, can come to Christ unless the Father draws them by irresistible superiority. This is what we Calvinists call, Irresistible Grace.
Back to our text, how many fish did they catch? The text says, "153"—I'm not exaggerating when I say that biblical scholars have spilt a ton of ink on the meaning of this number. Just for fun, let me share with you just a few of ideas that have been put forth.
Scholars, ancient and modern, have tried to find some connection to the gematria of this number 153. Gematria is the symbolic relationship between letters and their corresponding numbers and the numerical value of words or sentences.
One suggestion using gematria is that the phrase "sons of God" in Greek is 3212 which is 3x7x153. Other scholars have determined that the number of the Church = 12 squared added to the number of Trinity =3 squared equaled 153. Augustan, in his commentary on John's Gospel, tried a mathematical approach and suggested that there might be a connection to the sum of all numbers from 1 to 17. Augustan suggested that 17 is symbolic combination of the number 10, signifying the Old Law, and 7, the spiritual perfection of the New Law, since 7 is the number of the Holy Spirit (i.e. 7 gifts of the Spirit). Augustan determined that all the numbers 1-17 added together yields 153. Other scholars using a mathematical approach noticed that 153 dots can be arranged into an equilateral triangle with 17 dots on each side to yield a numerical symbol for perfection using the number 17. Some say that the reference is to an important date in Church History, namely, A.D.153. Cyril stated that 100 stood for Gentiles and 50 stood for Jews and 3 for the Trinity. These ideas go on ad infinitum ad nauseum. Augustan finally gave up and declared this number "a great mystery."
One of the ideas that has some validity to me is from Jerome. He notes that Greek Zoologist Oppianus Cilix who lived in the time of Marcus Aurelius estimated the total number of species of fish in the Sea of Galilee was one hundred fifty-three. Which he felt were symbolic of all the different tribes of the earth being brought back into God's Covenant family. Now if that was a familiar number, then it's possible that it was to be understood as some from every kindred, tribe, and tongue, and nation should come to faith in Christ as the mission went out to the Gentiles.
A parallel to this theory is found in Matthew 13:
"Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind. When it was full, men drew it ashore and sat down and sorted the good into containers but threw away the bad. Matthew 13:47-48 ESV
Here Yeshua compares the Kingdom of Heaven to a dragnet, which when thrown into the sea gathers fish "of every kind" indicating the universality of the Christian mission.
Let me give you one last theory, Maybe Lazarus simply recorded the number as a detail to lend authenticity to his testimony. At the purely historical level, it is unsurprising that someone counted them, either as part of dividing them up among the fishermen in preparation for sale, or because one of the men was so dumbfounded by the size of the catch that he said something like this: 'Can you believe it? I wonder how many there are?' So maybe the 153 simply means that there were 153 fish in the net.
And when they checked the nets, they were not even broken! The message was clear; Yeshua was telling them, I'll take care for you. Even though I will no longer physically be with you, I will look after you. I will abundantly supply all your needs if you will abide in me.
Yeshua said to them, "Come and have breakfast." Now none of the disciples dared ask him, "Who are you?" They knew it was the Lord. John 21:12 ESV
Dr. Thomas Constable writes, "In the ancient Near East, a host who extended hospitality to others and provided food for them, was implying that He would defend them from then on. Consequently Jesus' invitation may have been a promise of commitment to them like the kind offered at the oriental covenant meal."
"They knew it was the Lord"—kurioswas used by the LXX to translate YHWH, and thus Yeshua's prophecy in 8:28 "When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM" is being fulfilled in these post-resurrection appearances.
Yeshua came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. John 21:13 ESV
They sit down around a little charcoal fire and the Lord Yeshua feeds them. I think that Yeshua is telling His disciples that even though He will no longer be physically with them they can count on His supernatural supply.
George Mueller was a man who knew of the Lord's supernatural provision. He fed thousands at the orphanage in Bristol by simply looking to the Lord God. No prayer letters. No appeals for funds. No public collections. In fact, no knowledge of the situation. He kept that to himself and his closest helpers. No pledge systems, nothing. But those thousands of orphans were fed, and the result was that God was glorified in that He supplied the needs of the orphans. What did Muller know that we don't?
This was now the third time that Yeshua was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:14 ESV
Lazarus concluded the narration of this incident, by identifying it as the "third" instance of Yeshua's self-manifestation to His disciples "after" His resurrection. This verse forms an inclusio with verse 1, that sets off this incident as distinct.
We should probably understand this as a reference to appearances to the disciples as a group, since at least one additional appearance is mentioned in the Fourth Gospel itself.
So, you and I cannot go fishing with Yeshua as these men did, but the lesson here is that even though Yeshua is no longer on earth in the flesh He is still meeting the needs of His children. We, just like those first disciples, are called to abide in Him. To abide in Him is communion with Him. We come to be in Christ through faith, but through abiding in Him, dwelling in Him, fruit is produced.