Most of us are familiar with the scene in John chapter 21 where Jesus tells the disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat to catch a bounty of fish. There’s a great deal of symbolic meaning here that I believe is missed. In today’s post we’ll look at this scene in detail and dissect its deeper, esoteric meanings, and how it relates to the journey of the soul.
Chapter 21 is the last chapter of the Gospel of John. Jesus has already been crucified and resurrected, and he decides to show himself to his disciples on a few occasions before the final ascension. Chapter 21 concludes the Gospel of John with Jesus’ third and final appearance (at least according to this gospel). It’s as if Jesus was coming to give his farewell address to the disciples and give them the encouragement they needed to carry on, especially Peter, who, as we already know from a former blog post, represents man’s lower nature and ego that has evolved so much. He becomes the focal point in this last chapter of John for good reason—it is the lower ego that must be united with the higher, spiritual ego for the ascension. In order for this to happen, we must go through a myriad of new experiences, constantly interpreting and assimilating new thoughts and emotions. Such is the meaning of life and the evolution of our consciousness.
Let’s look at a couple of verses in detail to Biblically prove this point, beginning when the disciples decide to go fishing after Jesus has been absent from them:
“Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They [the other disciples] say unto him, We go along with thee. They went forth, and entered into the ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing” (John 21:3).
I need to point out a few important symbols here. Peter represents the lower nature. The other disciples are qualities of the soul that compel the lower nature and ego to evolve through time and experience. That is why Peter is emphasized in the text as the one who decides to go fishing and the other disciples promise to go with him; the lower ego leads us when we are young and spiritually immature.
The ship is a symbol of the lower mind, which tosses on the waves and seas (turmoil of life) to learn and grow. The fact that they fished at “night” is also significant. The night represents our potential for growth, and it is during the night hours that we struggle. And finally, fish symbolize the emotions, ideas, and concepts we experience in life.
With that being explained, let’s move on to the greater meaning of this scene.
“But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus” (John 21:4).
Jesus, shortly to become the ascended Christ, comes in the morning. As you might have guessed, the morning is time for refreshing. It symbolizes moving energy and spiritual growth. The ascended Jesus here is the power of the Christ within, which is now the power that the disciples (soul qualities) and Peter (natural man, ego) need to bear a multitude of fish (higher emotions and ideas) to blossom and evolve. At first Jesus is hidden from them, just as the Christ within is hidden from the ego and natural mind. All of this is further evidenced by what Jesus asks and does in the following scenes:
“Then Jesus [the power of the Christ within] said, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, no” (John 21:5).
I have bolded two key words which will help us in our final conclusions. Notice how Jesus calls them children. Children represent the new higher mental faculties and emotions which only the Christ can bear within us. The text is setting us up for a development in the soul. I have also bolded the word “meat.” Meat is a symbol for higher knowledge and emotions which are directly responsible for the soul’s growth. Thus far, the disciples have walked with Jesus throughout his ministry. They have witnessed his power through the crucifixion and resurrection (potential for the higher, or spiritual ego). They are now ready to evolve, and eat meat. But they can’t do it alone. They need the power of the Christ within, or the spiritual energy, to bring them to the next phases in spiritual growth.
Next Jesus then tells 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” (John 21:6).
Notice that the text emphasizes throwing the net onto the right side of the boat. The right side, or our intuitive side of the brain, is what we must engage to birth the Christ within. This is also the side of the brain that is affected in meditation and when we go within. In order to draw in a multitude of new growth, of higher emotions and thoughts, we must engage the right side of the brain, which also signifies the outgoing energy of the Christ within.
This is effectively what the disciples have done when they symbolically cast the net on the right side of the boat.
The “net” is also a very important symbol. Let’s go directly to Gaskell’s dictionary to get a concrete definition:
Net for the Catching of Fish: A symbol of the astral mechanism which lies behind the physical organs of the five senses, and serves to collect and differentiate the facts of sensation, passing them on as modes of vibration to the mental plane, whereon they become interpreted to the ego as thoughts and feelings of different kinds of qualities.
In other words, the net symbolizes the astral body, which receives or catches the vibrations given off in the physical world. The astral body is the seat of the lower ego, containing our desires, sensations, and lower emotions, which are relayed to the mental body, and interpreted by our mind. This is some pretty heavy information! This Biblical scene is giving us the key to how we evolve the soul and help birth the Christ within. If the fish symbolize the emotions and ideas of life, we must learn to cast our nets on the right side, meaning we must engage in the types of activities that are conducive to birthing the Christ within, or that potential spiritual energy of a higher vibration and plane in order to evolve mentally and emotionally as physical beings. This Bible scene is telling us that there cannot be any shortcuts here. We develop according to how we process and interpret our experiences in the sea of life!
More thoughts about the development of the soul
In a comment on the second to last article, I spoke about “the love of God.” This is symbolic of the constant, stead-fast belief that everything works together for good for those who have “the love of God.” It doesn’t mean we won’t experience pain, for pain is necessary for growth. The mother may tell the child that the stove is hot, but until he or she touches it, they can’t truly incorporate the feeling of everything that touching a hot stove entails. Once it is touched, not only do they experience the sensation and learn not to do it again, but they recognize the benefit of listening to another’s more advance knowledge and experience, thereby developing the faculty to incorporate knowledge by new methods based on communication and the sharing of ideas.
This is the reality of how we learn through experience. Sometimes the experience ends very painfully, sometimes less so. The point is the experience itself, and then the growth we gain. Think about this in relation to Eve and the Serpent, the subsequent fall, and the growth period back to the Christ.
When we being to incorporate “the love of God” into our lives, we have truly let go and our willing to accept what the higher self already knows, but still must be experienced by the lower nature so that both can come together in unification and agreement.
If you’re interested in a more practical guide to the different levels of consciousness humanity exhibits, check the link below from my new blog, Content From Within:
In it I discuss Lee Bladon’s classification of the five levels of conscious development based off of esoteric study and religious texts as well as the integration of science, psychology, and science. You can use it as a gauge to see where you fit in if you so desire.