21:2 together. This epilogue chapter, added after John had apparently ended his narrative, may well have been intended partly for symbolic reasons. This may be suggested by the fact that just seven of the disciples were involved, the number possibly representing all disciples of the Lord as “fishers of men.” The number seven has, of course, symbolized completeness ever since God established the seven-day week in commemoration of the completion of His week of creation. The Great Commission had now been given, and it would soon be time for the disciples and all those who would follow them to go into all the world to “fish for men” (see Matthew 4:19). By this additional miraculous sign, Jesus would encourage His people that their fishing would ultimately be successful in bringing many to the Savior.
21:4 morning was now come. Continuing with the symbolic theme, the disciples can fish all night long in the sea (which represents the world at large), without success, because Jesus, the light of the world, is not with them during the world’s dark night. “Without me, ye can do nothing,” He had said (John 15:5).
21:6 multitude of fishes. This remarkable change of fortune would remind them immediately of their experience three years earlier, when Jesus had similarly given them a miraculous catch of fishes, and told them they would “catch men” in the future (Luke 5:1-10). They recognized that it was Jesus, and, most likely, would understand His presence and the miracle as a rebuke and a reminder that they must soon be fishing for men instead of fish.
21:8 two hundred cubits. Possibly John was led to note the distance of two hundred cubits in recollection of the “two hundred” penny’s worth of bread which the disciples had once thought was needed to feed a multitude (John 6:7—the only other reference to “two hundred” in the gospels). Just as Christ provided more than the needed two hundred penny’s worth of bread to feed a multitude, so here He provided a multitude of fish (representing a multitude of people), when they ventured two hundred cubits from the shore. Jesus had once said that “the kingdom of heaven is like a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind” (Matthew 13:47). The disciples may also have remembered that parable, concluding that the Lord would have them make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), just as the net in the parable had gathered every kind of fish.
21:9 fish laid thereon. The disciples had not caught the fish that Jesus had cooked for them; evidently He, as Creator, had created these fishes. The disciples would realize that Jesus did not have to depend on them to fish for men; it was a privilege He was giving them, that of sharing in His mission to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).