At the end of the Gospels we find this story:
After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and in this way He showed Himself: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish
In the Gospel of John account of the final phase of the Lord's life in this world, we find Him, after His resurrection, appearing to His disciples. Thomas, however, was not among them. Approximately a week later He appeared to them again and overcame Thomas' doubt.
The next time we see Him with the disciples is the story above. All of them were confused as to what they should do next. It was Simon Peter's idea to return what he and some of the others had known best in their life prior to following Jesus. They went fishing. We remember that when the first disciples had been called by Him, He had promised that they would become "fishers of men."
(Matthew 4:19; Mark 1:17) Now that promise was being fulfilled.
All night they caught nothing. We can imagine how dejected they must have felt. They had seemingly lost the Lord, whom they loved, and now were having no success at the occupation that had once served them well. In the morning, though, there on the shore was Jesus. He instructed them to cast their net on the "right side". Had they only fished from the left side of the boat all night? What we are told is that when the net was lowered over the right side, it quickly filled with so many fish that it was difficult to drag the net to shore.
The story here, like all stories in the Word, is symbolic. New Church teachings, especially
Apocalypse Explained 600, help us to see that "to fish" in this context means to convert people. The net being so full of fish means that many people would be converted.
The message is not just about the fact that conversion would occur, it is about how that conversion would occur, or what it is that can inspire people to be converted. "The boat" we are taught, represents Christian doctrine. In other words, it represents the ideas or concepts that true Christianity is built on.
Sometimes people who love the truth of the church, go about sharing it with people in a theoretical type of way. There can be a tendency to want to debate. But, the average person's heart and mind is not a court of law, or an academic lecture hall. Instead, what the average person wants from religion is the answers to life's most immediate and often universal challenges. The questions on people's minds are things like: "How do I help my child navigate life and maintain positive self-esteem?", "How do I bring the love back into my marriage that my spouse and I had when we were younger?", or perhaps even "How can I be sure that there is a God who loves me so that my life therefore has a purpose?"
It is in response to the very real need of people to find comfort in the truth, that the Lord instructed the disciples to fish from the "right side." The "right side" symbolizes the "good of life" or the life of charity.
There is a fundamental principle that states that an idea cannot be true unless it is also loving and charitable. This means that unless someone sees the love within an idea, they are unlikely to accept it. People, naturally, want to feel love and share love. This is a function of the Lord's presence in everyone's life. Therefore, we need to teach each other from hearts filled with love. We can't debate someone into believing what we believe. But, we can demonstrate the love that lies within the Lord's message.