Just one week left before Pentecost. It is important to note that while we are studying this week a few more events which happened after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples, women, and some followers of Jesus spent the last ten days leading up to Pentecost gathered together in a room in Jerusalem (Acts 1:3, 12-14). There they were continually united in prayer (Acts 1:14). Let us keep this in mind as we study this week. Let us meet each other at the throne of God through prayer as we read and examine the scriptures.
“After this, Jesus revealed Himself again to His disciples by the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed Himself in this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called “Twin”), Nathan from Cana of Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of His disciples were together. “I’m going fishing,” Simon Peter said to them. “We’re coming with you,” they told him. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When daybreak came, Jesus stood on the shore. However, the disciples did not know it was Jesus. “Men,” Jesus called to them, “you don’t have any fish, do you?” “No,” they answered. “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” He told them, “and you’ll find some.” So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. Therefore the disciple, the one Jesus loved, said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tied his outer garment around him (for he was stripped) and plunged into the sea. But since they were not far from land (about 100 yards away), the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus told them. So Simon Peter got up and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish—153 of them. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn. “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus told them. None of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are You?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them. He did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after He was raised from the dead.” John 21:1-14
This is now the third time Jesus appears to the disciples. The first time was, right after they found out the tomb was empty, behind locked doors and Thomas was not with them (John 20:19). The second visit from Jesus to the disciples was in the presence of Thomas (John 20:26). Now, Jesus is on the shoreline telling them how to fish and cooking breakfast for them. You can find multitudes of sermons and devotions on this as well as the following passage of scripture. But I would like to share with you two things the Holy Spirit impressed upon my heart as I studied this time.
First, the bible records the disciples caught 153 fish and even though there were so many, the net was not torn (John 21:11). Why would God record this in the Bible? What relevance does it have to the reader? Could it be to serve as a reminder to us that God knows every minute detail about His creation and His children? Remember, God knows the number of hairs on our head (Luke 12:7). He knows how many stars are in the sky and gives them all names (Psalm 147:4). Why would He not know exactly how many fish were in the net? In addition, the net was not torn. What significance does that hold? Could it be to remind us that nothing can separate us from God (Romans 8:35-39)? No matter how many God calls into His kingdom, not one will be lost. The entire chapter of Luke 15 deals with lost sheep, coins, and sons and yet they were all found because the owner was unwilling to give up the search. Perhaps God records the number of fish and the untorn net to remind us He cares about the details of our lives and will always be present with us.
The second thing that struck me was the personality of Peter. Peter has an extremely impulsive personality. Throughout scripture we see him jumping out of boats (Matthew 14:29), cutting off a soldier’s ear (John 18:10), professing not to deny Christ and then denying Him three times (Mark 14:29, 66-72), running into a tomb to find nothing but the burial and linen cloths (John 20:6-7), hiding behind locked doors (John 20:19), and now back at his old trade of fishing (John 21:2-3). So it is not surprising that the first thing Peter does when he hears Jesus is on the shoreline, despite the fact they are not far from reaching it by boat, Peter plunges into the sea (John 21:7). Despite all of Peter’s impulsive tendencies, Jesus did not criticize Him or look down upon his weaknesses. Instead Jesus met Peter, just like He meets us where we are, and dealt with Peter according to the way God created him. Join Jesus and Peter on the shoreline as He tenderly speaks to Peter and restores him to Himself.
“When they had eaten breakfast, Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Feed My lambs,” He told him. A second time He asked him, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” “Yes, Lord,” he said to Him, “You know that I love You.” “Shepherd My sheep,” He told him. He asked him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You.” “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said. “I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” He said this to signify by what kind of death he would glorify God. After saying this, He told him, “Follow Me!” John 21:15-19
Again there are multitudes of sermons on this passage and many applications to apply to our lives. However, as I read this passage in light of the Pentecost coming in ten days I notice something different. After Jesus confirms to Peter his denial three times has been forgiven, He tells Peter to follow Him. The very next verse states: “So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them (John 21:20). Jesus and the disciples must have finished eating, cleaned up, and headed out. But where would they be headed? Could it be to the Mount of Olives? We will look at this later this week. For right now, let’s see what Peter does with Jesus’ command to follow Him.
“So Peter turned around and saw the disciple Jesus loved following them. That disciple was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and asked, “Lord, who is the one that’s going to betray You?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord—what about him?” “If I want him to remain until I come,” Jesus answered, “what is that to you? As for you, follow Me.” So this report spread to the brothers that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not tell him that he would not die, but, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written.” John 21:20-25
Was Peter focusing on his responsibility to follow Christ? No. He was immediately concerned about what Jesus wanted the other disciples to do. Oh how we get so caught up in other people’s business. We get so worried about what other people are or are not doing within the church. Doesn’t God remind us that everyone has a part in the body and not one is lesser than the other (1 Corinthians 12:12-26)?
My Heart’s Prayer: Lord, thank You for Your patience. Thank You for caring so deeply about us and for taking care of all the details with Your creation. Thank You for knowing us intimately and spurring us on to come into a greater knowledge of intimacy with You. Lord, forgive us for our tendency to wander and interfere with other people’s affairs instead of focusing on the task You have prepared for ourselves. Be glorified in our lives today as we seek to follow after You. In Jesus Name, Amen.