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John 21:1-25 (web)

Jesus' Resurrection: Part II

1  After these things, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself this way.


2  Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee,
and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.
3  Simon Peter said to them, "Iím going fishing."
They told him, "We are also coming with you."
They immediately went out, and entered into the boat.
That night, they caught nothing.


4  But when day had already come, Jesus stood on the beach,
yet the disciples didnít know that it was Jesus.
5  Jesus therefore said to them, "Children, have you anything to eat?"
They answered him, "No."
6  He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some."
They cast it therefore, and now they werenít able to draw it in for the multitude of fish.
7  That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "Itís the Lord!"
So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he wrapped his coat around him (for he was naked), and threw himself into the sea.
8  But the other disciples came in the little boat
(for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits away),
dragging the net full of fish.


9  So when they got out on the land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.
10  Jesus said to them, "Bring some of the fish which you have just caught."
11  Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fish,
one hundred fifty-three; and even though there were so many, the net wasnít torn.
12  Jesus said to them, "Come and eat breakfast."
None of the disciples dared inquire of him, "Who are you?" knowing that it was the Lord.
13  Then Jesus came and took the bread, gave it to them, and the fish likewise.


14  This is now the third time that Jesus was revealed to his disciples,
after he had risen from the dead.
15  So when they had eaten their breakfast,
Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you."
He said to him, "Feed my lambs."
16  He said to him again a second time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me?"
He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I have affection for you."
He said to him, "Tend my sheep."
17  He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of Jonah, do you have affection for me?"
Peter was grieved because he asked him the third time, "Do you have affection for me?"
He said to him, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I have affection for you."
Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.


18  Most assuredly I tell you, when you were young,
you dressed yourself, and walked where you wanted to.
But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands,
and another will dress you, and carry you where you donít want to go."
19  Now he said this, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.
When he had said this, he said to him, "Follow me."


20  Then Peter, turning around, saw a disciple following.
This was the disciple whom Jesus sincerely loved,
the one who had also leaned on Jesusí breast at the supper and asked,
"Lord, who is going to betray You?"
21  Peter seeing him, said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?"
22  Jesus said to him,
"If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you? You follow me."
23  This saying therefore went out among the brothers, that this disciple wouldnít die.
Yet Jesus didnít say to him that he wouldnít die, but,
"If I desire that he stay until I come, what is that to you?"


24  This is the disciple who testifies about these things, and wrote these things.
We know that his witness is true.
25  There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they would all be written,
I suppose that even the world itself wouldnít have room for the books that would be written.

Discussion Questions

What event was Jesus repeating here and why was he repeating it?
vs 15 what is the difference between love and affection and why do you suppose Peter could not bring himself to use the word "love"?
How can we determine whether we love God more than we love others?
What does Jesus say here about how we can show love to God?
vs 18 How would you have felt if you received this prophecy from the Lord?
vs 22 Why do you suppose Peter asked this question?
And what principle do we learn from Jesus' response?


The sea of Tiberius is the sea of Galilee in Northern Isreal aruond which we know most of the disciples had grown up many of them being fishermen.

Finding Fish

It appears that the theme behind these events have to do with giving Peter a perspective on ministry. Notice how much of this reflects the events in Luke 5 which starts out with Jesus essentially feeding his sheep by preaching. It goes on:
4  When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon,
"Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
5  Simon answered,
"Master, weíve worked hard all night and havenít caught anything.
But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
6  When they had done so,
they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.
7  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them,
and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
8  When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesusí knees and said,
"Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
9  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,
10  and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simonís partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, "Donít be afraid; from now on you will catch men."
11  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
As was the case then so now Peter is burdened with guilt, having denied the Lord three times. To be a fisher of men Peter needed to have the assurance of being forgiven. For no doubt Peter would feel hindered from doing ministry if he was burdened with such guilt. So the Lord takes him back to the point where he first called him, erasing the slate and starting over again. Just as previousy Peter left everything to follow Christ, so now even before getting to shore he quite literally leaves everything behind to follow Jesus, leaving the others, the fish, the boat, being desparate to reconcile with the Lord. For Jesus had also said those who have been forgiven much love much. (Luke 7:47)
Many people have had friends and relatives who have died before taking the opportunity to reconcile any differences. There's no opportunity to reconcile with the person once they're dead, which can lead to despair and depression because of the unreconcilable guilt. But Peter now had a chance to reconcile and he zealously sought it. Such repentance is a natural characteristic of those born of God.
Jesus addresses them as children which seems a bit derogatory but in fact they were still immature in their faith and perspective on their responsibilities, just as many Christians go from church to church trying to find a place where they can get fed rather than trying to find a place in which they can serve. Nonetheless if they are hungry, Jesus will indeed feed them. The fact that John mentions of 153 fish being caught indicates that they took the time to count each one. Perhaps we may also find allegorical applications from these facts in the context of ministry since Jesus himself had said, "Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men". The counting of the fish teaches that each individual is important and should be counted. Everyone is important. John also notes that though the catch was large yet the nets didn't break, implying they naturally should have broken. So also in ministry that despite the fact that the numbers of people may seem overwhelming yet God provides us the ability to minister to all without breaking our nets. But we have to cast our nets on the right side, in the right place, as the Lord directs through his Spirit. Else our fishing may seem in vain. But the Lord may not provide us clear guidance until we have persisted and endured through the night, just as Jesus also spoke of the prayers of the persistent widow.


If the fish represent converts and disciples, eating the fish seems rather rude. But remember what Jesus said to his disciples in chapter 4 after speaking with the woman at the well, "I have food to eat that you donít know about." He was speaking of how he was refreshed by the woman's conversion. And so also disciplemakers are refreshed as well as John says, "I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth." 3 John 1:4  The bread Jesus gave may be likened to himself, of which he said, "I am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever." John 6:51


The way a person shows love to God is by obeying his commands. "One who has my commandments, and keeps them, that person is one who loves me." John 14:21 And "This is love for God: to obey his commands."1 John 5:3  In particular this involves feeding the sheep, which more generally means to edify the Christian community. Jesus' great commission to the Christian community is to make disciples of all nations, a responsibility to which we will all be held accountable. And if we love the Lord then we will be involved in that as the Lord directs us in accordance the gifts he has given.

The web version accurately portrays the dialog between Jesus and Peter in that there is a difference between the word "love" and "affection" in Greek which is not brought out by many other translations. The word "love" is "agapao" which speaks of caring for the needs of others. The word for affection is "phileo" which speaks of a feeling of affection. The questions that Jesus asked of Peter were probably questions that he was asking of himself as well.

His first question to Peter is not whether he loves him, but rather whether Peter cares about him more than he cares for his fellow disciples. Though we should love others as well, Jesus demands undivided devotion to himself first. We remember he said, "He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isnít worthy of me." Matt 10:37 For the disciples no doubt built up a good friendship between themselves but what of their love for the Lord whom they had abandoned at the cross?

Peter could not bring himself to admit that he cared deeply for the Lord, because of his feeling of remorse. Therefore he simply said he had a fond affection for the Lord. And so also was his second reply. But for the third question Jesus didn't use the word "agapao" but rather "phileo" as Peter had been using. Basically he was saying, "Ok you can't admit that you love me, but do you really even have so much as a fond affection for me?" This would naturally grieve Peter as he would have to think whether he sincerely had a fond affection for him seeing as three times he had denied knowing him. But in fact he couldn't deny having a fond affection for him.

I would imagine the discussion as between a man and his wife who committed adultery. After she repents he may ask when she is commited to be faithful to him - to love and to serve. Having betrayed him she might not have the confidence to express such commitement in all honesty. Nonetheless she might acknowlege that she genuinely likes to be around her husband. She enjoys his company. The husband may ask her whether she's answering honestly even in that respect.

It's a humiliating confrontation. Jesus doesn't simply say - forget about it. While Peter is forgiven it seems that Jesus wants him to keep aware of his genuine motivations - to avoid making such confident arrogant statements he had made previously.

Application/meditation questions from that passage might be - how do we measure our genuine love for Jesus? (by feeding his sheep for example) And given a choice of what to do with our free time, would it always be our preference to spend time with Jesus. Do we like to be around Jesus? Do we imagine being in heaven but not hanging around Jesus? Do we presently yearn to be with Him, or do we yearn simply for the pleasures of heaven and being separated from the troubles of this life?

To all these Jesus commanded him to edify the believers. And concerning this command let me make one more point. Notice that Jesus doesn't say, "Preach the gospel" but rather "Feed my sheep." The primary responsibility of the Christian life is not preaching the gospel but making disciples. Preaching the gospel, ministering to non-Christians is secondary. Our primary responsibility is to edify other Christians. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.  Galatians 6:10

Follow Christ to the Cross

It seems many times those who are closest to the Lord end up experiencing a good deal of suffering, being even persecuted to death. The world may think that those whom God loves the most He would give the most comfortable life. But consider how God treated his own Son, sending him essentially on a suicide mission to save others. And He placed him in circumstances in which he was subjected to humilation and persecution. As it was written, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering." Isaiah 53:3 It is written that "He who didnít spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things?" Romans 8:32  But consider also that if He didn't spare His own Son, He may also not spare His own sons from similar suffering. But such suffering is an honor for those born of God, for in these things we can identify with Christ. "Donít be astonished at the fiery trial which has come upon you, to test you, as though a strange thing happened to you. But because you are partakers of Christís sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of his glory also you may rejoice with exceeding joy." 1Peter 4:12,13

The church fathers record Peter's death in that he was arrested and crucified. But in his crucifixion he requested to be crucified upside down saying that he was not worthy to be crucified as the Lord was. For his guilt of denying the Lord probably humilated and haunted him the rest of his life. But it also kept him humble and on his guard.

On the other hand Jesus also said that he would live to be old and indeed he did live till at least 40 years after this. The fact that the Lord told him that he would live to be old would free him up from fears of dying or being killed for now and he could establish long term plans and exercise great boldness fearlessly. Thus in saying this Jesus would instill confidence in him and a sense of mission.


Peter, never at a lost for inappropriate statements, then asks about the apostle John. Jesus essentially replies, "Mind your own business." So also Christians can get caught up in all kinds of questions of armchair theology. They may even do so to procrastinate, putting off their responsibilities. But the important thing is to apply what God has already revealed. You may not have understood all of the Bible. But apply what you do understand. Don't let peripheral questions distract you from fulfilling your responsibility to the Lord.

vs 23 shows how misinterpretations can arise. Many claim to believe the Bible, but what they mean is they believe their interpretation of the Bible. But their interpretation may be at fault. Easy enough to read into the Bible whatever suits us, but the challenge is to read out of the Bible in accordance with the intentions and spirit of the author.


As a witness takes an oath on the stand so John swears that he is telling the truth concerning these events. The liberal who claim John simply fabricated these stories and that they didn't represent actually historical events are essentiallly calling John a liar, for he states these as facts, as Peter also said, "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty." 2 Peter 1:16

And John could have gone on to record even more events. But these are sufficient for reasonable men with good consciences to come to faith in Christ.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources Aug 15,2020