Day 15: John 21:1-19

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “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.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He 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. Then 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. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish.  This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

The 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. Very truly I tell you, 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.”  Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Do you have a place that you go when things don’t seem to have turned out the way you had hoped? Do you have a vice that pulls you away to loneliness and isolation when the going gets tough? Peter did. He was a fisherman. He liked to fish and he went fishing with his buddies at night. It’s odd that Peter was fishing naked with his buddies. If you and I were reading this story not in the Bible, we might assume Jesus was cooking a hangover breakfast for the boys when he arrived in the morning.

Now, the disciples, namely Peter, had experienced the ministry of Jesus. They knew he was alive and had received a version of the great commission, receiving the Holy Spirit when Jesus breathed on them in John’s previous chapter. They had experienced the truth about Jesus and his resurrection, but for whatever reason they just didn’t get it. So before Jesus ascended into heaven he decided to pay a visit to Peter’s favorite fishing hole. Sure enough, he finds Pete and the boys out on the boat, finishing up an unsuccessful night of fishing.

His questioning of Peter in this scenario is not an interrogation. He doesn’t ask for a detailed report of where Peter has been and what he’s done since denying Jesus three times on the evening of his betrayal. He doesn’t show up with a breathalyzer, or lecture Peter about his propensity for being a low-life. He simply asks Peter the question that he asks to you and me through the living word today: Do you love me?

Jonathan Burkey | Felíz Cinco de Mayo

Amy Tabler