In John 21 we have a final heartfelt moment between Jesus and his disciples (soon-to-be apostles). The disciples are probably emotionally, spiritually, and mentally drained. So they get on a boat and go fishing.
If you read my post on John 1, you’ll remember this was the vocation of many disciples. So during this time of distress, they went back to something they were familiar with.
John 21, Epilogue: Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
21 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee.[a] This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin),[b] Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.John 21: 1-3
In Times Of Distress:
In times of distress, the shock will eventually wear off, but the pain and loss will still be there. At that time, people tend to do comfortable things that they’ve done before.
I think the disciples are doing that, as former fishermen, they grew up fishing on the lake. They knew the ins and outs of the sea, and it gave them some comfort. When Peter said, “I’m going fishing.” It almost feels like he’s saying I’ve gotta do something, I need to clear my mind.
The disciples were in a weird place, Jesus had died & Rose again. However, he was disappearing and reappearing at different times. I honestly wonder what was going through their heads. So much had changed in the last 30 days and it was probably very hard to understand.
And the Holy Spirit hadn’t been sent yet.
That alone makes things interesting as you’re wrestling with random thoughts, memories, and your friend’s random (pretty sure they had some crazy) theories. However, clearing their heads gave way to frustration when they fished all night and failed at it.
John 21: Jesus Appears, But Isn’t Recognized:
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows,[c] have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.John 21:6-7
He Was Right In Front Of Them, And They Needed A Miracle To See It
A lot of times I’ll hear a Pastor from the pulpit make fun of the disciples for their reactions. I wonder if we’d do better? And usually, I realize that I’d do a lot worse. Jesus selected this team (Read John 1 and dig into John 2) and if he selected them wouldn’t he have chosen the ones he wanted, and knew they’d do the best job?
Their bodies were tired from all night fishing, and their minds were exhausted from the last few weeks. However, they didn’t realize that Jesus was on the shore calling to them.
I bet as the voice called out across the water, and said cast on the right side they had a chuckle. I wonder if they didn’t even want to obey. However even in their tiredness, I think they recognized the voice of Jesus, and they obeyed.
Then at the moment of miracle, they realize who they’re speaking with and everything changes.
John 21: A Miracle Happens And They Know It’s Jesus
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards[d] from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire and some bread.
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.John 21:7-14
An Abundant Miracle:
I’m not a preacher who believes in the name and claim it philosophy. In fact, I think it’s heresy to believe it. The disciples had worked all night and hadn’t received any fruit from their labor. Jesus shows up in their hour of need and pours out blessing on them.
His presence makes all the difference.
While I don’t believe in the above philosophy, I do believe God blesses his people. If you’re in a place where you’re confused, and you don’t know where God is leading you. Remember the last thing he said and keep going.
A lot of times when things go horribly, people tend to freeze up. They stop doing things. In today’s day and age, we stop going to church, we blame other Christians. And we begin to die.
That’s what I think Peter was avoiding, although I can’t be sure. I do believe he was tired of sitting around. So he went to do something that was familiar and the disciples failed at it.
Until Jesus showed up.
I think this happened because Jesus was still with them, and the Holy Spirit hadn’t been sent yet. The Holy Spirit is here on earth. He’s actively directing our steps and convicting us of sin. He also guides us into all truth.
This was a reminder that their old lives wouldn’t be fruitful to them anymore. They were called to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to earth, and they couldn’t do that holding onto their old lives.
They failed in their strength but flourished in obedience to Jesus. What a great reminder.
John 21: Breakfast With Jesus:
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?[e]”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.John 21: 15-17
I wrote a blog post about John 18 and I talked about Peter denying Jesus. Here Jesus asks Peter the same question 3 different times. Do you love me?
The bible says when Peter denied Jesus he ran off and wept bitterly. This betrayal he committed must’ve been weighing on his conscious mind. I’m not sure how many times he appeared before them prior to this. But I think Jesus knew that Peter needed some help over this hurdle.
And I think it made all the difference in his life.
Each question erased each denial, and Peter was able to say in front of everyone that he loved Jesus. This is a great story of change and transformation.
John 21: The End
18 “I tell you the truth when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others[f] will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”
22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers[g] that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.
25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.
John 21: 18-25
Jesus Predicts The Future Of Peter & John
The catholic church has an old story about the death of Peter. Supposedly he loved Jesus so much that he didn’t wanna die the same way as his lord. So he asked to be crucified upside down.
We don’t really know historically if this actually happened, but it does match (vaguely) how Jesus predicted the death of Peter.
The other takeaway that I find funny in this verse is that he immediately asks about another disciple. We are never content to only hear our story, we always want to find out about others.
I hope that someday I’ll have Jesus’ response engraved on my heart. “What does it matter to you?” Because honestly, none of it matters, and it shouldn’t matter to me.
I’m following Christ, and as I follow him I will meet lots of other people. Some good and some bad. My job is to show them who Jesus is, and hopefully, they will follow him.
Giving my life to Jesus was the best thing that I ever did. Through him, I overcame depression, fought mental breakdowns, and I’ve even traveled the world.
Life has been hard, and sometimes I’ve been distraught. Following Jesus made my life difficult, but with him things become easy. All I do is trust him and do my best. (That’s what I’m learning at least).
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