JESUS APPEARS AT THE SEA OF GALILEE
PETER AND OTHERS ARE TO FEED THE SHEEP
On his final evening with the apostles, Jesus had told them: “After I have been raised up, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” (Matthew 26:32; 28:7, 10) Now many of his followers make that trip, but what should they do in Galilee?
At one point, Peter tells six of the apostles: “I am going fishing.” All six respond: “We are coming with you.” (John 21:3) The whole night, they do not catch anything. As it is getting light, Jesus appears on the beach, but they do not realize who it is. Jesus calls out: “Children, you do not have anything to eat, do you?” They answer: “No!” Jesus tells them: “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” (John 21:5, 6) They catch so many fish that they cannot even draw in their net.
“It is the Lord!” John tells Peter. (John 21:7) Quickly, Peter girds on his outer garment, which he was not wearing while fishing. He plunges into the sea and swims about a hundred yards (90 m) to shore. The others in the boat follow slowly, dragging the net full of fish.
Getting to shore, they see “a charcoal fire with fish lying on it and bread.” Jesus says: “Bring some of the fish you just now caught.” Peter pulls in the net, which contains 153 large fish! “Come, have your breakfast,” Jesus says. None of them have the courage to ask, “Who are you?” because they realize that it is Jesus. (John 21:10-12) This is his third appearance to the disciples as a group.
Jesus gives each of them some bread and fish to eat. Then, likely looking toward the catch of fish, he asks: “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Is Peter more attached to the fishing business than to the work that Jesus wants him to do? Peter replies: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” So Jesus urges him: “Feed my lambs.”
Again, Jesus asks: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Perhaps puzzled, Peter answers earnestly: “Yes, Lord, you know I have affection for you.” Jesus’ response is similar: “Shepherd my little sheep.”
The third time, Jesus asks: “Simon son of John, do you have affection for me?” Now Peter may be wondering whether Jesus doubts his loyalty. Peter says emphatically: “Lord, you are aware of all things; you know that I have affection for you.” Once again Jesus highlights what Peter must do: “Feed my little sheep.” (John 21:17) Yes, those taking the lead need to minister to those drawn into God’s sheepfold.
Jesus was bound and executed because he did the work that God commissioned him to do. He now reveals that Peter will have a similar end. “When you were younger,” Jesus says, “you used to clothe yourself and walk about where you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and another man will clothe you and carry you where you do not wish.” Yet Jesus urges him: “Continue following me.”
Peter sees the apostle John and asks: “Lord, what about this man?” Yes, what does the future hold for the apostle for whom Jesus has special affection? Jesus answers: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?” (John 21:21-23) Peter needs to follow Jesus without worrying about what others do. Still, Jesus is indicating that John will outlive the other apostles and will be given a vision of Jesus’ coming in Kingdom power.
Of course, there are other things that Jesus did, more than many scrolls can contain.