This passage found in John is very dear to my heart. It describes the encounter Peter has with Jesus after completely failing him by denying that he knew him, not just once but three times. I can relate to Peter in his humiliation. I bet he thought that Jesus couldn’t possibly even look at him after he had turned his back on his savior. But Jesus stuns him. Jesus does the opposite of what Peter expected. He lovingly approaches Peter. Lets him know that he is loved. Despite his failure. Despite his cowardice. Despite his faithlessness. In my life, there are many times when I do the same thing as Peter did. I deny I know Jesus by the things that I do. I deny I know Jesus by the words that come out of my mouth. I deny I know Jesus by the thoughts that I have. And the rooster crows three times. And I know I’ve messed up. Reading the gospel of John, especially this chapter, I’m finding that Jesus’ forgiveness is so unfathomable. How could One so perfect ever think of wanting to reestablish a relationship with one so imperfect? But this is the Jesus we get to know in the gospels. This is the Jesus we get to love. This is the Jesus we get to serve. This is our Jesus. He isn’t offended by our mistakes. Even when it’s a mistake that could easily wound His heart because of our unfaithfulness. But He sacrificially offers loving-kindness to us. And this unexpected grace rubs off on us…we are compelled to change. I love that Jesus is a radical forgiver. A radical lover. A radical friend. There is none like Him. Let us learn to embody His very nature in the way that we interact with others. Let us learn about Jesus together in this passage, John 21:1-25 and apply it to our lives. Jesus is our only hope. Our only source of life.
Summary of John 21:1-25
Jesus appears to the disciples after his death and resurrection, by the Sea of Tiberius; at dawn, Jesus stands on the shore while Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples go out to fish; they catch nothing; Jesus asks them if they have any fish, and then tells them to cast their nets on the right side of their boats; they catch an abundance of fish; John recognizes that it is Jesus who they see; Peter jumps into the sea and swims to the shore to see Jesus, while the others come to the shore on the boat with the haul of fish; Jesus had already prepared a fire for them to cook their fish; the net is not torn though it is filled full; Jesus tells them to come and have breakfast; none of the disciples would ask Him who He was, though they knew it was Jesus; it is listed as the third encounter the disciples have with the resurrected Jesus; after finishing breakfast, Jesus begins to ask Peter, “Do you love me?” a total of three times, each time giving Peter an instruction to follow; Jesus prophecies the way in which Peter will die but says to follow Him anyways; Peter asks what will happen to John, and Jesus says, “What’s it to you if He remains until my return?”; John verifies his testimony to these things that have happened; John explains that there were many other things that Jesus did that are too many to be recorded.
Jesus in John 21:1-25
Jesus reveals himself again (v. 1)
Jesus reveals Himself in a particular way (v. 1)
Jesus longs for us to see Him for who He truly is (v. 1)
Jesus waits at the shore (v. 4)
Jesus speaks with a parental concern (v. 5)
Jesus recognizes a need (v. 5)
Jesus offers the solution (v. 6)
Jesus’ solution exceedingly outweighs their expectations (v. 6 & 8)
Jesus is recognized by John, who calls himself the one that Jesus loves (v. 7)
Jesus’ presence causes Peter to hastily swim to meet Him (v. 7)
Jesus is not threatening to the one who has failed Him (v. 7)
Jesus prepared a means for them to utilize what He had already provided (fire for fish) (v. 9-10)
Jesus’ provision is meaningful to John, so that he records the very number of fish that were caught (v. 11)
Jesus wouldn’t let the net be torn (v. 11)
Jesus invites them to eat with Him (v. 12)
Jesus appears different in His resurrected form (v. 12)
Jesus initiates the meal with them (v. 13)
Jesus acts as the host (v. 13)
Jesus has revealed Himself to the disciples now three times (v. 14)
Jesus is still a little unfamiliar and unreal to the disciples even after seeing Him three times (v. 12 & 14)
Jesus continues to appear to the disciples though they wrestle with believing if it is really Him (v. 12 & 14)
Jesus must be radiantly different in his humanity and post–resurrected body (v. 12 & 14)
Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him (v. 15)
Jesus tells Peter to feed His lambs (v. 15)
Jesus asks Peter again if he loves Him (v. 16)
Jesus tells Peter to tend to His sheep (v. 16)
Jesus asks Peter a third time if he loves Him (v. 17)
Jesus tells Peter again to feed His sheep (v. 17)
Jesus restores Peter of his denial of Him, bestowing forgiveness, love, and responsibility (v. 15-17)
Jesus isn’t afraid to use those who failed Him in the past (v. 15 – 17)
Jesus prophecies Peter’s death (v. 18)
Jesus calls Peter to follow Him no matter what (v. 19)
Jesus has a distinct plan for Peter and for John (v. 21-22)
Jesus performed many other acts that could not be all written down (v. 25)
“He said to him a third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
– John 21:17 –
Questions for Today:
- Do I recognize Jesus when He reveals Himself to me?
- Assuming I’m in Peter’s position, how do I respond when Jesus asks me again if I love Him?
- How can I let Jesus restore me in the areas that I have failed Him?
- What next step can I take in my relationship with Jesus today?