Read John 21:1-16
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 caught."
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. (NIV)
In this last chapter of John, we see that John is setting us the transition of leadership for the church from Jesus to Peter.
This fishing story is interesting in several ways, especially if we take in what Luke also wrote. For me, I see that when frustration comes to us, we have a way of reverting back to old ways, old ways that bring comfort and stability. Now, these old ways are not always healthy, but they have a certain attraction to calm us. This is what Peter did. He returned to the thing he left to follow Jesus. But Jesus would not let him stay there.
When we look at Luke, the call of Peter is a very similar story. Jesus got into a boat belonging to Peter and preached to the people. After preaching, he tells him to put out into deeper water and let his net down. Peter mildly protests, but does what is requested and a great haul of fish is caught. Luke tells us that Peter left his boats and followed Jesus.
Now we see the story played out again. Peter has not caught anything and it is under the direction of Jesus that he succeeds. The number of fish has several theories, but we are not readily told the significance. Most people have come to see that the fish represent all the people of the world and the net represents the church. There is room for all as none escape. We need to remember that, Jesus calls to him all the people of the world.
This passage also speaks to us again of the type of resurrection. Jesus is a resurrected body, not just an image. He eats and talks and interacts with people. This was an important item debated in the early church with the affirmation that it is a bodily resurrection we look toward.
And then we see the restoration of Peter and the giving Peter control over the church. Jesus calls for him to love, tend and feed his sheep. He is making Peter responsible. Peter asks, what about John. And Jesus gives him an simple answer that says, worry about you task and not the work of others. In the book of Acts, we see that Peter is mentioned 71 times and John is only mentioned about 15 times. Peter is clearly the leader of the church.
This has caused some confusion with people through the ages as they say we should not listen to Paul as Peter is the leader of the church. When people bring this up, I always point to a passage at the end of 2 Peter where Peter says, I know Paul is hard to understand sometimes, but he speaks the same wisdom as Peter did, so listen to him.
Ours is to listen and learn. It is a lifelong task. Like the apostles, God is calling us to a new life and there will be times we are tempted to return to the old life. But God will always call you forth to his glory and his work. Learn to listen to his voice every day. We do this in prayer, Scripture reading and in fellowship with other Christians. God speaks in creation and so many other ways too. Hopefully as you go through life, you ability to listen gets better each year.
Comments about this chapter or the Gospel as a whole.
Blessings and Peace