John Chapter 21:1-13
Memory verses for this week:
2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good
works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
In our last study, we saw Christ show
Himself openly to Mary Magdalene and the disciples on two accounts
after His resurrection from the grave. Thomas, who was not with
the disciples when the Lord came to them the first time, doubted and
said he would not believe unless he could put his fingers in the
nail prints of his hands and thrust his hand into the wound on
Jesus’ side. But one look at the Master when He came to them, and
Thomas acknowledged him as “My Lord and my God.” This week we get
into the last chapter of John. Chapter 21 is an epilogue in a way.
There are three specific incidents in this chapter. The first is
the fishing experience at the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of
Tiberias.) It shows the Lord Jesus as the Lord of our wills and how
He directs our service. The second incident is the breakfast on the
seashore where the Lord presents to them that our love for Him
should be our motive to serve God. Then the last incident is when
Jesus announces the upcoming death of Simon Peter. It shows that
Jesus is the Lord of our minds and teaches that lack of knowledge or
circumstances in no excuse from service. The whole chapter reveals
that the resurrected Jesus is still God.
I. A Trip by
Peter’s Own Choosing
John 21:1 After
these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea
of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself.
John 21:2 There
were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael
of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his
John 21:3 Simon
Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go
with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and
that night they caught nothing.
The little Sea of
Galilee had much to do with the ministry of our Lord both during His
life and after his resurrection. We see several of the disciples
with Peter. It is interesting how Peter was so fervent at times,
and yet at times walked at a distance. Thomas was a doubter. You
could almost see the group as a crowd of problem children. Perhaps
the disciples were many times like the church today. We have many
strong and faithful, then some who have to be encouraged to serve
and to get involved. While we don’t specifically see the Lord
condemning the men for going fishing, it does not appear that this
was something that they had been directed to do. Actually, I think
we find Peter here in a bit of a backslidden position. He says in
Verse 3, “I go a fishing.” Peter had been called out by the Lord to
become “fishers of men”, but now he goes back to doing things that
he wants to do. I’m afraid if we went out to the lake this
morning, we might find many that are called Christians fishing.
And they may truly be saved, like Peter, but their heart if not in
doing the things that God has commanded them to do. We know that
Peter seemed to be going fishing for selfish reasons, not for God.
Perhaps this boat was owned by the father of James and John. It
might be that Peter was considering going back into the fishing
Mat 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of
Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his
brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.
Mat 4:19 And he saith unto them, Follow me,
and I will make you fishers of men.
Mat 4:20 And they straightway left their
nets, and followed him.
Mat 4:21 And going on from thence, he saw
other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother,
in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he
Mat 4:22 And they immediately left the ship
and their father, and followed him.
We see that he went
out fishing with Thomas and Nathanael, and James and John, and they
are not very effective. They had fished all night and caught
nothing. I don’t know about you, but when I go fishing, and
nothing bites the hook for 30 minutes to an hour, I tend to sort of
lose my enthusiasm for the sport. If they are biting, it is a lot
of fun. Sometimes when we are out of the Lord’s will, we can toil
and toil and never accomplish a thing. John Phillips, in his book
“Exploring the Gospels”, told of how due to circumstances that he
resigned from fulltime Christian work after 15 years of faithful
service. “The situation was not a happy one, so, discouraged and
in a measure disillusioned, I went back into secular employment. I
worked for a large corporation owned by a very good friend of mine.
The work was interesting, my friend was supportive, I had some good
friends in the corporation, and my immediate boss was a very close
friend. And the salary was attractive, the possibilities were
inviting. I stayed there trying to convince myself that I was
through forever with fulltime Christian work. And I was thoroughly
miserable. Like Peter, “I toiled all night” so to speak and “caught
One of my
colleagues came one night when I was preaching in a local church
near where he lived. He said, “If I could preach like that, I’d
sure not waste my time working for a trucking company even if the
big boss was my friend.” The Lord allowed me to toil on at the job
for a year, allowing me to become more and more dissatisfied with my
decision. Then one day a Christian friend of mine took me out for
lunch. He was a retired and successful businessman, a wise man, the
elder in one of the churches where I ministered on weekends. He was
blunt about it. “John”, he said to me, “you are wasting your
time.” I knew he was right. Within a month I was back in fulltime
Christian work. The Lord was no more in my decision to go back to
secular work than he was in Peter’s decision to start fishing
John 21:4 But
when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the
disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
John 21:5 Then
Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered
John 21:6 And he
said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye
shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw
it for the multitude of fishes.
When you are away
from the Lord, you become spiritually blinded. Here, Jesus comes
right to them, and they do not recognize him. This was the third
time that Jesus had come to the disciples since His Resurrection.
Perhaps the reason that Jesus addressed them as “children” was to
make them truly recognize their failure. When we try to do
anything, particularly with work in the church, and fail to let God
lead in it, we are destined for failure. They had toiled the whole
night through, and had no fish to show for their efforts. Sometimes
God uses a night of toiling to do us some good and to teach us a
lesson. These men actually knew how to fish, they had made their
living fishing. But this night of failure was for a reason and
purpose. Now these men at this time don’t know that it is Jesus
who commanded them to throw the nets out on the right side of the
ship. I dare say if the first day someone had told them to do that,
they would most likely have ignored them. But after a whole day
and night of toiling, we tend to listen a bit quicker. See why God
sometimes allows things to wear us down, it allows us to be in a
position where we will listen. When we are humble, we can best be
used of the Lord. Jesus tells them the reason for their failure
was they were fishing on the wrong side of the boat. I’m sure they
had cast the net down many times, but they don’t argue a cast it one
more time. Sometimes when you don’t think you can try one more
time, you are one try away from great success. Even when we may
feel beaten, we need to pick ourselves up and let the Lord help us
to win the battle we are facing. Cast the net down on the right
side and ye shall find. And the spiritual connotation to that
could me made to do anything for God, we must do it the right way.
2 Tim 2:1 Thou therefore, my son, be strong
in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Tim 2:2 And the things that thou hast
heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful
men, who shall be able to teach others also.
2 Tim 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness,
as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
2 Tim 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth
himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who
hath chosen him to be a soldier.
2 Tim 2:5 And if a man also strive for
masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.
2 Tim 2:6 The husbandman that laboureth
must be first partaker of the fruits.
2 Tim 2:7 Consider what I say; and the Lord
give thee understanding in all things.
The day will come
when God will ask us this question about our lives. Did we catch
anything while we were fishing in our lives. We are to reach souls
for the Lord. I hope that no one will ever have to answer, “No..
not a one.”
Notice the results
when they listened to the Lord. There were so many fishes that they
could not be drawn in. They might not have been able to pull in
the net, but notice it does not break. That is true of the Gospel.
Our Gospel, of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord
will never fail. When God is involved, the blessings we receive
sometimes overflow our capacity to understand. You know about the
promises God makes to those who give cheerfully to the church.
Mal 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the
storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now
herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the
windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not
be room enough to receive it.
2 Cor 9:7 Every man according as he
purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of
necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
2 Cor 9:8 And God is able to make all grace
abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all
things, may abound to every good work:
2 Cor 9:9 (As it is written, He hath
dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness
remaineth for ever.
2 Cor 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to
the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed
sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)
2 Cor 9:11 Being enriched in every thing to
all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the
Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his
fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself
into the sea.
We see that John
recognized Jesus and knew that it was the Lord. Peter may not have
had the discernment of John, (and we all must really study our bible
to have true spiritual discernment), but the one thing about Peter
is that he wanted to be near the Lord. He goes on and swims to
shore to be close to the Lord. I love the whole-hearted way that
Peter served God, even though he failed the Lord at times. We
should be so gung ho as to want to be right in the place where Jesus
is today. If I know my heart, I want to be in the Will of God, and
serving Him in spirit and truth. But to do that, we must obey the
commandments, study the Word of God, and stay in close personal
contact with our Lord.
John 21:8 And the
other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from
land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with
John 21:9 As soon
then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and
fish laid thereon, and bread.
This is the last
recorded miracle of the Lord, and the only one after His
resurrection. This should be important to us, because we serve a
Risen Lord today, not the baby born in Bethlehem or the body that
lay lifeless in the grave. It is the Resurrected Christ.
2 Cor 5:16 Wherefore henceforth know we no
man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the
flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.
2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in
Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold,
all things are become new.
2 Cor 5:18 And all things are of God, who
hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us
the ministry of reconciliation;
2 Cor 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ,
reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses
unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
2 Cor 5:20 Now then we are ambassadors for
Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's
stead, be ye reconciled to God.
2 Cor 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin
for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of
God in him.
John 21:10 Jesus
saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
John 21:11 Simon
Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an
hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was
not the net broken.
It is interesting
that the Lord always used what people had to bring forth his
miracles. J. Vernon McGee had several good points about this and
the lesson of the men being able to bring those fish in to land
without breaking the net.
“The disciples were
fishing and caught nothing before Jesus came on the scene. The Lord
gives them a harvest of fish. At Cana the water pots were empty.
The Lord has the pots filled with water and then changes the water
to wine. He asks Moses what he had in his hand. Moses said that it
was a rod, and with the rod, God performs His miracles for Israel.
David is faithful as a shepherd with his shepherd’s crook, and God
gives him a sceptre to hold in his hand. It is interesting that
whatever is in your hand, God can use. So many people wish they
were somewhere else or in some other circumstances. My friend, if
God can’t use you right where you are, I don’t think He can use you
Besides, have you
ever noticed that what God does He does in abundance? The water
pots were full of wine. There were baskets of food left over after
the 5,000 were fed. The nets were filled with fish.
Also, notice that
although Jesus had fish laid on a bed of coals for their breakfast
on the shore of Galilee, He also asks for some of the fish which
they had caught. He accepts their service. When they had fished at
His command, He accepts what they bring. What blessed fellowship
there is in this kind of service!
There was another
time when Peter caught a miraculous number of fish, records by
Luke. It was in the early days of Jesus’ ministry, and He was
calling Peter to be a fisher of men. That time the net broke. I
think Peter was to see that many would follow Jesus, but they would
not all be believers. The net would break and many fish would swim
away. This time the net did not break, but was drawn to land, “full
of great fishes.” Peter is being called to feed the sheep and feed
the lambs. With what? With the Word of God. With the gospel of a
risen, glorified Christ. The gospel will not only save, but it will
hold. Even in their failures, believers are kept by the power of
God though faith. We see in this incident that Jesus Christ has a
purpose for His own. He wants to direct our lives. If we obey, He
will bless and have wonderful fellowship with us. He is the Lord of
John 21:12 Jesus
saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask
him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
John 21:13 Jesus
then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
We have a song that
we sing in our hymnals called “Come and Dine”. Come and dine the
master calleth, come and dine, you may eat at Jesus table all the
time. We truly can, and we should look every day of our lives to
God to provide the provision for that day. The disciples started
this morning out looking like they would have no food, but soon,
with the Lord in the picture, they were eating a great feast on the
sea shore. All of the disciples recognized the Lord for who He was,
and no one asked Him who He was. And in similar fashion the last
time they had eaten together (when they partook of the Lord’s supper
in the upper room in church capacity), the Lord takes the bread and
gives it to them. Now let me be clear on this. This was not in
any way the Lord’s supper, because the elements were wrong. I’ve
heard some preachers say that if you wanted to take the Lord’s
supper with coconut juice and a banana, that would be ok since it is
just typifying the death of our Lord. We were given exact
instructions of what is to make up the Lord’s supper, and to do it
right, we must follow those instructions. Here, the men are
enjoying a great meal with Christ. And I’ll close with this
thought. If the Lord is in the food we are given, we should partake
of it and be joyous in receiving it. Christ gave the apostles some
special instructions on eating what was given to them, and they were
to be thankful for whatever is was. A little with the Lord in it
will go a long, long way.
Luke 10:3 Go your ways: behold, I send you
forth as lambs among wolves.
Luke 10:4 Carry neither purse, nor scrip,
nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.
Luke 10:5 And into whatsoever house ye
enter, first say, Peace be to this house.
Luke 10:6 And if the son of peace be there,
your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.
Luke 10:7 And in the same house remain,
eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is
worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.
Luke 10:8 And into whatsoever city ye
enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:
Luke 10:9 And heal the sick that are
therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto
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Prov 4:18 But the path of the just is as the shining light, that
shineth more and more unto the perfect day.
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