The audio is available to listen online or download with notes.

The text: John 21:1-23 (following it over two weeks)

This story of Jesus’ encounter with Peter is but one of Jesus’ appearances over a 40 day period (Acts 1:3), proving his bodily resurrection, restoring his followers and weaning them from his physical presence – for them to depend on the indwelling Holy Spirit.

First, note the broad features of this most tender encounter:

  • The setting on the shore of the sea of Tiberias (Galilee) and the miraculous catch clearly connotes Peter’s original call in Luke 5:1-11 (read it and compare)
  • And by making a fire on that cold early morning and asking Peter three times if he loved him, Jesus recreated and reversed Peter’s threefold denial, which took place around a fire (see John 13:36-37, 18:10-27)
  • The implication: Jesus comes to each of us at critical times to restore and heal, often by recreating and reinterpreting what happened (our disillusionment and death), leading to a deeper honesty and self-knowledge, with a profound renewal (resurrection) of our followership and calling to minister (love) in his name

Second, meditate on the details and layers of meaning in the first story (John 21:1-14):

John 21:3 – Why did Peter go back to fishing? What do you ‘go back to’ when disillusioned… ?

John 21:3 – Why did the other disciples go with Peter? (See also John 21:7-8, “the other disciples followed…”). Meditate on Peters’ leadership role, both natural and appointed.

John 21:3 – Why did they fish at night? All night? What does it symbolize? Imagine catching nothing. What is John saying? (see 15:5; John uses the word ‘nothing’ 53 times). What are you doing that produces nothing? What can you do about it?

John 21:4 – Why did Jesus come “early in the morning”, and why does John say they saw him standing there? See John 20:1 & 14; i.e. it’s (your) resurrection time! Jesus intervenes… but why did they not recognise it was Jesus (a common post resurrection theme)?

John 21:5 – Jesus intervenes by asking questions? Why? What does their answer say to you?

John 21:6 – Imagine how Peter heard and felt about Jesus’ instruction – after fishing all night, and this coming from a stranger? Why did they simply obey? What was the result? Think about your own life… what is God saying to you through this verse?

John 21:7 – Why did “the disciple whom Jesus loved” realize it was Jesus (before Peter did)? The miracle must have made Peter recall his first encounter with Jesus in Luke 5:1-11. What do we learn from the similarities and differences of his responses in the two stories? How did you respond when Jesus first came/called you? And in subsequent encounters?

John 21:9-13 Jesus feeds his disciples with (his own) fish and bread, and also from the miraculous catch: why this interesting detail in the story? John is…

  1. recalling John 6 (read it), the true spiritual food that leads to eternal life;
  2. anticipating “feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17), the role of Peter (and Christian leaders) in fishing people and feeding God’s flock; and…
  3. saying that Jesus is known beyond doubt as we “break bread” (John 13) – communion with him and each other (note: it was not a ‘nip and sip’, but a meal together)

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