might conclude that the Gospel of John ended with the 20th chapter.
It clearly has all the marks of a finale. But it is the universal testimony of
the early church that the 21st chapter is clearly included. Perhaps
– we will not find out in this life – John felt it so embarrassing to Peter
that he withheld it. This may be; if so, it is likely that Peter told him to
include it anyway.
1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea
of Tiberias.£ It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in
Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said,
“We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night
they caught nothing.
4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the
disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6He said, “Throw
your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul
the net in because of the large number of fish.
7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is
the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped
his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the
water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat,
towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred
yards.£ 9When they landed, they saw a
fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just
11Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the
net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was
not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who
are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to
them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time
Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15When they had finished eating, Jesus said
to Simon Peter, “Simon son of
John, do you truly love me more than these?”
“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you
know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”
16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me?”
He answered, “Yes, Lord, you
know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”
17The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt because Jesus
asked him the third time, “Do
you love me?” He said, “Lord,
you know all things; you know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and
went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands,
and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of
death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
20Peter turned and saw that the disciple
whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back
against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”
22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I
return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23Because of this, the rumor spread among
the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he
would not die; he only said, “If
I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”
24This is the disciple who testifies to
these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.
25Jesus did many other things as well. If
every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would
not have room for the books that would be written.
The power of the ordinary
most of us, “I’m going fishing” implies a trip to the mountains or the sea, but
always a good time. It is something we do with our leisure. To Peter and the
others, however, this represents going back to the old line of business, for
his trade was that of a fisherman. We may ask why they did this.
I think, it was their occupation – something at which they made money.
They were still unsure of what was to happen, and it never hurts to lay in
a little cash.
probably, there is a certain comfort in doing something by manual labor
which you have done many times before. Being an apostle was tough; they
felt much more at home as fishermen.
there is any one thing which pops up as an objection to Christianity, it will
be this: it is against common sense. This is quite the case; divine sense is
higher, greater and better than our common sense.
see that here – with a little background. Boats in those days did not have a
rudder as we know it. They were steered by putting a board over one side and
using it like a rudder. That board would be tucked under someone’s arm and
muscled around until the heading was right. Given that most people are right
handed, they’d want to do this on the right hand side of the boat. That side
became known as the steering board side – shortened by our time into
starboard. The other side was the one you put up against the dock (to avoid damage
to your steering board). That side was the port side.
if you are fishing with a net, the very last thing you would want to do is to
throw the net from the right (starboard) side of the boat. It is very likely
to foul your steering board. So when Jesus tells them to throw the net on that
side, it is against plain sense to do it. At that point, having been at it all
night, it could only be a sense of frustration which led them to try such a
The extraordinary ordinary
Lord is, once again, teaching them who is Lord of All. The night’s empty nets
are forgotten in this huge catch. It is an extraordinary event – in an
ordinary way. God often works that way.
is a Peanuts cartoon that tells us of this. Snoopy has his water dish in his
mouth; he’s thirsty. He takes it over to a pipe sticking up out of the ground
with a hose faucet on it. He kicks the pipe – and it begins to rain. The rain
fills his water dish; he drinks from it; and on the way back to his dog house
he thinks, “I’ll have to think about that one.”
see it, I hope. The not-quite-miraculous event in ordinary times. It serves
not so much to convince us as it does to bring God to our minds. In his mercy,
he does this quite a bit, for it is the gentlest way of restoring the common
sense Christian in an uncommon relationship.
The Process of Restoration
is not sufficient to bring about the repentance of a sinner. It is necessary,
but not sufficient. To be sufficient we need to bring about the restoration of
the sinner. Christ here shows us four steps:
solemn, deadly inquiry
demonstration of faith
warning of suffering to come
first that Jesus asks the critical question: do you love me? He will repeat
the question with another verb at the end, but that is condescension to Peter’s
failings. All the questions of the old covenant disappear; Christ does not
ask Peter if Peter fears him, or if Peter will work for him. The core
question: Do you love me?
first time, Jesus adds the phrase, “more than these?” The reference is
to the fishing boat and nets; how many today are married to their jobs?
second time, Jesus simply asks; no conditions.
third time Jesus uses a verb which does not imply so great a love (the two
verbs are translated “Truly love” and “love” in the NIV).
this is done with great formality (“Simon, son of John”) so that all will know
that what is being said is of first importance.
you know…” Peter makes the only true reply to this. He acknowledges the
Lord’s omniscience. By offering no defense, he throws himself on the mercy of
does not let the matter rest with one inquiry. As Peter betrayed him three
times, so shall the question come. As our Lord was hurt by those three times,
Peter is hurt by the third repetition. It is an exquisite example of speaking
the truth in love.
Demonstration of faith
verbal agreement is not sufficient. Christ tests Peter again in the task he
gives him. Curiously, there is an alteration of thought in these three
first time he is to “pasture” Christ’s “lambs”.
next time he is to “watch over” Christ’s sheep.
is to “pasture” Christ’s “sheep”
can but conclude he intended Peter to carry out the tasks assigned without
reference to who is whom.
The Warning of Suffering
knows what Peter will suffer. It may not seem like it, but this is an aspect
of restoration: shared suffering.
me an example: suppose you decide that you don’t like football, despite being
on the team. You tell the coach, and he sits you on the bench, where you will
wait. Now suppose you change your mind. How do you know the coach has
accepted you? You are accepted when you’re allowed to wear pads under the
uniform and go out and get yourself knocked silly. You are accepted when you
join in the suffering.
suffered too; the servant is not above his master. Therefore, all of us who
truly believe should expect suffering.
Restoration of the Believer
restoration of a believer follows the same pattern:
Do you love the Lord?
that Jesus started out by asking Peter, “Do you love me more than these?”
If you are not willing to place Christ above all else – family, job, esteem – then
you will not be restored. For example:
you in church only on Sundays which are convenient?
you spend time, daily, in prayer?
is your giving like? Inside and outside the church.
are uncomfortable questions. Jesus asks them, so that we might realize that we
need to put him first.
The Humble Answer
you know…” was Peter’s answer. If you had to call Christ as your witness of
the love you have for him, what would be his testimony? Here are a few more
questions which may make it easier to decide:
you act like a Christian, all the time?
he our constant companion in prayer?
we set aside time each day for him?
Demonstration of faith
may sound heretical at first. After all, we are saved by faith, not by
works. But we are not talking about salvation but restoration. If only for
ourselves, we need to show the world our restoration.
we use the gifts given us by the Holy Spirit?
we willing to be servant leaders for the one who washed the disciples’
did your mind immediately reach for an old and familiar excuse which will
logically defend our lack of action.
Warning of Suffering
you are a Christian, you should expect to suffer for it. It really is that
simple. So I have but two questions for you:
are going to suffer because of him; do you really expect it, or does it
come as a surprise?
it comes, do we share it with Christ – so that he may be our comfort?