The numbers will always assist you in finding the truth behind religious texts. But you have to be willing to suspend a literal interpretation and an actual historical viewpoint. When you understand that you are reading mythology, it makes it so much easier to look at the text without any preconceived beliefs or religion getting in the way.
I mean, who cares how many fish they caught? Why count them and give us the number unless it carries a deeper meaning? The divine is screaming at you to “wake and smell the caviar!” It has to be caviar because we are talking about fish and not coffee. Um, moving on.
Let’s look deeper at the Gospel of John to see if we can unravel this mystery.
John 21 (KJV)
1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
Remember, the disciples are aspects of your consciousness, not actual people. Gaskell’s defines “disciples” in the following way: “These signify twelve disciplined qualities and faculties of various kinds, which are able to receive higher teaching and profit by it. They have determined to adhere to the instruction and admonition of the Higher Self as the Master within the soul.”
Ship is symbolic of the soul, and we see that they went fishing at night, meaning unless you are using your higher faculties, the Higher Self, the light within, Jesus, to guide you, you won’t catch any fish (higher thoughts or wisdom.)
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
The disciples aren’t the sharpest knives in the drawer, and they prove it time and time again with their constant lack of knowledge and common sense. This instance is no different and is supportive of looking at this as being symbolic of a deeper meaning. The qualities of the mind are so wrapped up in the lower nature or material world that they have a hard time seeing or recognizing the Higher Self when it is trying to help them evolve to a higher state of consciousness.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
Children are symbolic of “slightly evolved mental qualities.” And meat is symbolic of “spiritual wisdom.” So, the children are looking for meat, the slightly evolved mental qualities are looking for spiritual wisdom and they cannot find any. The Higher Self, Jesus, is intervening to help the “children” acquire wisdom. Jesus calls them “children” and not disciples or any other name because the Higher acknowledging the lower elevates them to a higher state naturally, hence children.
6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
You will see the terms “right side” or “right hand” countless times in the Bible. This is referring to your higher spiritual nature, as the “left side” or “left hand” signifies the material or physical world as it pertains to the lower emotional nature. Jesus tells them to cast the net (awareness) to the right side. So focus all of your attention on your higher spiritual nature (love, compassion, etc.) and you will catch “fish” or gain higher wisdom. When the disciples (disciplined qualities of the mind) did as instructed, they caught a “multitude of fishes.”
7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
Have you ever noticed how Peter is usually the one who is angry, emotional or even petulant? The biblical writers did that on purpose because Peter is symbolic of a part of us that we are very familiar with. Gaskells defines Peter as: “A symbol of the lower mind, or “natural man,” with a sense of separateness.”
The lower, upon realizing that it is in the presence of the Higher, finally sees itself for what it is, which is “naked” or shamefully and embarrassingly exposed, hence Peter’s embarrassment, covering of himself with his “fisher’s coat” and casting himself into the “sea,” which is water, which is symbolic of “truth.” In other words, the lower is in a state of evolution, hence the submerging of itself in truth. It’s all about progress.
8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
We have some more numerology here in reference to “cubits.” A cubit is a unit of measurement that is equal to 18 inches. Using the code of adding up the numbers to achieve a single digit, we get the number 9, which means “the attainment of perfection on the three lower planes” or simply “consciousness.” It can be higher or lower, but in this case, it’s higher. The reference to the unnamed or “other disciples” and “little ship” is just saying that these are lesser qualities, but even though they are “lesser” they too are in the process of evolution.
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
“Fish“ and “bread” are both symbolic of ‘wisdom and/or spiritual nourishment’.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
And here we have the reference of the 153 fish, which if we take the knowledge that we gained from the discussion above and apply it, the numerology tells us to add up the numbers to get a single digit, which is the number 9 again. 1+5+3=9 This just proves once again that it’s all about you evolving above your emotional and physical nature.
12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
It’s no coincidence that it was the “third time” that Jesus showed himself to the disciples because the number 3 is symbolic of resurrection a major transformational shift. Remember that Jesus was in the tomb for 3 days, and Jonah was in the belly of the whale for 3 days. There is a reason for the numbers. Use this knowledge to do your own research and I bet you will be surprised at what is revealed to you.
3 thoughts on “Why did the disciples catch 153 fish?”
I too, see all the encoded symbolism in this story. My take is slightly different however, and takes no strenuous effort to understand. The Disciples were hungry; not just for physical nourishment, but ‘spiritually speaking’ they longed for Jesus and his truth. When asked by Jesus, “Have ye any meat?”, He was asking them where was their nourishment (both physically and spiritually) was now coming from. They responded, “No.” This proved that they had a deep emptiness and void within themselves. Jesus said unto them, “Cast your net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.” That is, “give up your self-will and just surrender unto me.” This is the “right side” that our ship (soul) needs to acknowledge. They cast therefore and received. Here they began with a new faith, which is as spiritual food for their souls. When that disciple whom Jesus loved, (who seems to be the only one to recognize the “presence” of Christ) said, “It is the Lord”; then the rest of the Disciples, including Peter (the Believer) FEEL their connection to Jesus’ spirit. Jesus said unto them, “Bring of the fish that ye have caught.” This is, “bring unto me the souls who have faith (the fish) unto me.” “They drew the net to land full of great fish, an hundred and fifty-three”, which signifies the numbers 100 (all), 50 (half), and three (a few). Our own success at being “Fishers of Men” means that we will sometimes fully reap a great bountiful catch, a half successful one, or maybe just a few souls for Christ. Although this is a very simplistic explanation; it doesn’t require much to grasp. Hopefully, this doesn’t offend you or others. It is my own insight. Timothy.
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I’m not offended in the least, Timothy. And I appreciate looking at this scene from other perspectives. We are all on a path of discovery to figure out who we are, why we are here and ultimately where we are headed after we leave this world. Having different opinions on the interpretation of this particular piece of scripture can only lead to a productive conversation that maybe we can both learn something from, as long as we are both courteous and respectful, which we both are. This reminds me of the story of the three blind men and the elephant. Three blind men came upon an elephant, with the first one arriving at the tail. He grabs it and feels it and says: “This is a rope.” The second blind man comes to the side of the elephant, feels it and says: “It’s a wall.” And the third blind man arrives at the trunk of the elephant, touches and feels it and says: “It’s a water hose.” Meaning that we are all searching for the same thing, but our interpretation of what the “divine” is may be different from others. It doesn’t mean that my interpretation or yours is the “right” one but it is what we interpret it to be. Thanks for commenting, Timothy, and I look forward to future conversations with you. Blessings!