What Were the Disciples Doing When Jesus Came to Visit Them in John 21 2?

When Jesus came to visit the disciples in John 21:2, they were fishing. This may seem like a simple answer, but there is much more to it than meets the eye. Let’s dive deeper into this passage and explore what was happening.

The Context

Before we get into the specifics of John 21:2, let’s set the context. Jesus had been crucified and buried, but on the third day, He rose from the dead. He appeared to His disciples several times after His resurrection, but He had not yet ascended to heaven.

The Disciples’ Response

Now let’s look at John 21:2 specifically. The passage reads:

“So they went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.”

The “they” referred to in this verse are seven of Jesus’ disciples – Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, James son of Zebedee, John (the author of this gospel), and two other disciples who are unnamed.

Notice that they “went out and got into the boat” without any clear direction or purpose. They were likely feeling lost and unsure of what to do next since Jesus had not given them any specific instructions after His resurrection.

They were fishermen by trade before becoming disciples of Jesus, so it makes sense that they would return to what was familiar to them – fishing. However, even their expertise couldn’t help them catch anything that night.

Jesus’ Arrival

Verse 4 reads:

“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”

Jesus appears on the shore but is not immediately recognized by His disciples. This could be because they were focusing on their lack of success with fishing or because Jesus’ resurrection appearance may have been different from how they remembered Him.

The Miracle

Verse 6 says:

“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.”

Upon recognizing Jesus’ voice and following His instructions, the disciples catch an abundance of fish. This is not just any ordinary catch – it’s a miraculous one that shows Jesus’ power over creation.

The Significance

This passage has significant implications for believers today. Firstly, it shows that even when we feel lost and unsure of what to do next, we can always turn back to Jesus. He will guide us in the right direction if we seek His will.

Secondly, this passage reminds us that Jesus has power over all aspects of our lives – even those that seem mundane or insignificant like fishing. We can trust Him to provide for us in miraculous ways if we follow His lead.


In summary, when Jesus came to visit the disciples in John 21:2, they were fishing out of uncertainty and lack of direction. However, through this encounter with Jesus, they were reminded of His power over all aspects of their lives and were provided for abundantly. May we also turn to Jesus in our times of uncertainty and trust Him to provide for us in miraculous ways.