In Luke 5:3-4 Jesus was in the boat when initiating the miraculous catch leading into the call for Peter to leave fishing for fish to fish for men (Luke 5:10-11) at the beginning of Jesus ministry on Earth.

Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he [Jesus] 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.” (Luke 5:3–4, ESV)

While Jesus was on the shore, not in the boat, during the miraculous catch of fish in John 21:4-6 leading into Peter's call to be a pastor (shepherd) after Jesus' resurrection (John 21:15-17)

Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “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 21:4–6, ESV)

Is Jesus being in the boat symbolic of Jesus' physical presence with the apostles during his ministry after the first call, and Jesus on the shore after his resurrection symbolic of Jesus no longer being physically present during Peter's ministry as a pastor.

  • 1
    I think this is an interesting, helpful and useful interpretation of these two incidents; however, I am not sure such can be deduced from the text directly. Are there other case where such a pattern can be observed? (Not my downvote BTW.)
    – Dottard
    Commented Sep 12, 2023 at 2:32
  • To me a good answer to this question would be how commentators such as the early church fathers addressed these passages. I'm trying to find that myself.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Sep 13, 2023 at 1:33
  • @Dottard I posted an answer.
    – Perry Webb
    Commented Oct 3, 2023 at 23:22

2 Answers 2


In reconciliation the account of Simon Peter became a disciple of Jesus, according to John 1:40-42 and Luke 5:1-11, we may find though Andrew, brother of Simon Peter brought Simon to see Jesus, Simon did not follow Jesus at once. The fact is seen in Luke 5:5, Simon was still a fishman, until he submitted to Jesus, and his eyes opened to see the miracle (When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. Luke 5:6 NIV), he finally made up his mind to follow Jesus (Luke 5:11)

The account in John 21:4-6 has a similar setting to Simon, not to Jesus. Simon could be downhearted after Jesus crucifixion and he went back doing his fishman. Once again Jesus asked him to throw the net and large number of fish were caught (John 21:6). This was a stunning moment Peter should have recalled, a moment to restore his enthusiasm to serve Jesus.

These two accounts seem to have more implication to Peter, rather than Jesus. Two times the same experience, Peter was then advance bravely.

While the second account Jesus was not in the boat, should it be a symbolic physical presence with respect to the call? Though the fact is not solid, but it seems to have such a implication, because "fishing people" (preaching Gospel) will be carry on by the disciples without Jesus physically presence.


Contemplating the answer to this question, I realized my mistake was the meaning of Jesus' physical presents with respect to the boat was actual rather than symbolic. In Luke 5:3-4 Jesus began a ministry physically present with the disciples. He was in the boat because he was involved with them. In John 21:4-6, after the resurrection it was time for the apostles to start their ministries apart from Jesus' physical presence. Thus, while Jesus did appear to them physically from time to time before the ascension, he was not physically with them as before the crucifixion. Thus, Jesus was on the shore, not in the boat.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.