Jesus on the Shore (John 21), Commentary

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. The Gospel of Mark records that the disciples were told to go to Galilee, and Jesus would meet them there (Mark 16:7). “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.”  When we are unsure of what to do, we do what it familiar to us. The disciples were waiting, without direction. Likely, too, the men were hungry. So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Their old style of life would no longer suit them. They were not to be fishermen, but fishers of men.  Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.  He appeared in a different form.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” Are you successful in your endeavor without the help of Jesus?

“No,” they answered. We can’t even catch a fish without the Lord.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”  This is a command, followed by a promise. When we allow Jesus to direct us, we will find what he promises.  When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. Because it is His will to provide for us. On our own we find nothing, but with Him we find everything.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”  John, his eyes were opened by the miracle. 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.   Peter is impulsive, excited. He can not wait to be near Jesus.  They saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. God provides for us our daily bread. We should thank him for these comforts.

Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”  Use what Christ has given to further his kingdom, that you may present it to him.  So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. Peter obeyed Jesus. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. God will sustain us, even when our burdens are many. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”  Every meal is provided by the grace of God. He invites you to eat with him. None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.  The appearance of Jesus must have been different for the author to include this.

Three times Jesus asks Peter, Do you love me?, corresponding with the three times that Peter denied Jesus before the crucifixion. Each time, Peter answers yes.  The third time Jesus asks, Peter was hurt, because he was reminded of his denial of Christ.  In response to Peter, Jesus gives Peter his commands, Feed my lambs, Take care of my sheep, Feed my sheep- Peter is to give himself to serve God’s children. He is to be shepherd, as Jesus was a shepherd to him. Much will be demanded of Peter, and Jesus alludes to the way Peter will die: 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.  Though it is not recorded in the Bible, Peter is believed to have been crucified, and according to tradition, upside down, as he did not consider himself worthy to die as Jesus did.  Then he said to him, “Follow me!”  The first command Jesus gave to Peter, and here he gives it again.

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. John loved Jesus too, and wanted to be with him.  When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”  Peter was distracted, not focusing on Jesus.

Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”   Peter was told to follow Christ, as he should have with the same zeal he demonstrated by leaping out of the boat. We shouldn’t meddle in the affairs of others, but focus on the Jesus, follow him as he commands, and focus on the tasks he sets before us. It is believed John lived a long life, and that it was him that Christ gave the vision depicted in the book of Revelation.

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