Jesus has resurrected already. He has already appeared to the disciples. First at the tomb in the morning. Then on the road to Emmaus which we studied last week. And then at a private room where they were gathered that Sunday evening. Now Jesus is about to appear to them again.
1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 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 disciples.
- Seven of the disciples were present this time at the sea.
But what were they doing there?
- 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.
- They went fishing. Maybe they were thinking about the future? Jesus is dead, now resurrected and He’s going to go up to heaven. He’s eventually going to leave and so there’s nothing left for us to do. It was like sheep without a shepherd.
- So they were thinking what to do next. How to support themselves? But what happened whilst they were fishing? They caught nothing! Not sure if it was uncommon for some fishermen to catch nothing all night. But it certainly would be depressing to them.
What happens next?
- John 21:4-6
4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 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.
- This would be a reminder to the disciples of what had happened before.
- Luke 5:4-6
4 Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. 5 And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. 6 And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake.
- Same scenario. They were fishing and caught nothing all night. Then Jesus tells them to try again and this time they get so great a catch that the net breaks!
- Now a similar thing happens again to them. This stranger comes along and tells them to do cast their net in again after they caught nothing and now they catch a whole lot again! It’s déjà vu all over again! They’ve been through this before!
- And immediately Peter comes to his senses!
7 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. 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 fishes.
- He knows that that stranger is Jesus! Without any thought he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore to meet Jesus! He was so excited! He can’t wait to drag the fish in so he jumps out.
But as soon as they get to the shore, what do they see?
- 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.
- They see a fire of coals with fish and bread on top of it.
What does the fire of coals remind Peter of?
- John 18:17-18
17 Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not. 18 And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself.
- Peter is reminded of his denial of Jesus. The last time he warmed himself around a fire was probably that last night when Jesus was alive! It was a stinging a reminder to Peter of his cowardly betrayal. Denying Jesus by cursing and swearing. Yes, Jesus did that on purpose. He needed to talk to Peter about it. We will come to that in a moment.
- But there is also something else with the fire of coals. What was it? It was the fish and the bread.
What does the fish and bread remind the disciples of?
- Matthew 14:17
And they say unto him, We have here but five loaves, and two fishes.
- This was the time that Jesus fed the 5,000. They were worried where the money was going to come from to buy some food for everyone! Yet Jesus miraculously provides for every person to the point that there is so much left over! How much was leftover? 12 baskets full! 1 basket each for each disciple. A reminder that Jesus could more than easily take care of their needs, that they would never need fear of going hungry or dying from starvation.
- Remember, the disciples, at least some of them, had gone back to fishing. They were thinking about how to support themselves. They were thinking of the future. But Jesus is trying to tell them, stop worrying about your clothes and your food. Stop worrying about your needs! I will take care of you. Don’t forget everything that I’ve taught you while I was with you. There is still another work for you to do!
You know in this time of pandemic, it is easy to forget that Jesus cares. It’s easy to forget that Jesus will provide for us. Yes, there are a lot of people facing a lot of hardships at this time. And we need a reminder that Jesus will take care of us, that He will provide for us. Only, let us learn to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. This is the time that we need to come back to God. This is the time that we need to run back to Him for help. Maybe some of us are in this predicament because we didn’t spend our money wisely before. But it’s not too late. Jesus is waiting for you to come back even now! Surrender your life to Him again. He will abundantly pardon. He is gracious and merciful. He will provide and He will also heal.
Let’s continue with the story.
- John 21:10-11
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 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.
- Jesus asks them to bring some fresh fish. And notice, we see that the net does not break! When Jesus did the first miracle with Peter after they had caught nothing all night, that first net broke but not this time.
- What important lesson can we learn from this? You see, this time the disciples did not doubt. Peter and the others lacked faith the first time. Peter was questioning.He was just putting the net into the water out of respect, and not because he really believed.
- But this time, even though Jesus did not reveal Himself to them yet, they believed the word and were rewarded with a big catch and a net intact because of their faith in His words.
- Does faith matter? It absolutely does! God can only work to the measure of our faith. Many times before Jesus heals people He will ask them – do you believe? Their healing was dependent on their faith. Sometimes blessings still comes because we believe a little, or we have a little faith.
- But from the first time, even though they enclosed such a great catch of fish, because of the hole in the net many fish would have escaped from their hands. And how many of us we let blessings escape from our hands because we lack faith in the beginning. Even though God wants to bless you now, how do you know He didn’t want to bless you more in the past if you had been faithful? If you had believed more! We will never know.
- But we see that object lesson from the lives of the disciples. This time, the catch is so great but they are able to number the fish – 153 in total! And so those who have great faith, they see with the eye of faith that every blessing comes from God and they are able to number them all.
- John 21:12-14
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. 13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
- So they have their meal together. Sounds like they have it in silence. This is the third time that Jesus is appearing to them. Must be important! He isn’t done with them. They must be wondering the reason for His appearance this time.
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
- Now Jesus’ attention is directed to Peter. This is done in front of the other disciples! And for a good reason. Jesus asks Peter – Peter do you love me? Do you love me more than these? Probably referring to the disciples of his fishing. How does Peter reply? Yes Lord, you know that I love you. And then Jesus replies – Feed my lambs.
But Christ isn’t done.
- John 21:16
He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
- Jesus asks the same question. Peter, do you love me?! And he replies again – yes Lord, you know that I love you. And once again Jesus says – feed my sheep.
But still, Jesus is not done!
- John 21:17
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
- Jesus asks again! Peter, do you love me?! And this time Peter is hurt. Why would Jesus have to ask me three times? Especially three times as to whether I really love Him or not?
- But of course, we know. Three times Peter denied Jesus. Three times he acted as if he had nothing to do with Him! And so Jesus had to ask him back three times – Peter do you love me?
- He wasn’t trying to make him feel the pain as if He didn’t believe his confession that he really loved Him. But Jesus was trying to restore Peter’s apostleship and prove his repentance in front of all the other disciples.
- His denial was not a private event. It was done out in the open in front of people. And so Jesus would restore His beloved disciple and give him the reassurance that He accepted him back into the ministry. That is why Jesus told him also – feed my sheep. Had Jesus not said anything after that then Peter would have had reason for doubting Christ’s words. But every time He asked Peter – do you love me? After Peter’s reply He would tell him – Feed my sheep. There’s a work for you to do. And this would be a reminder to Peter also about the feeding of the 5,000!
- Mark 6:34
And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things.
- Jesus was reinstating his position as if he had never sinned. He gave him his position and work back. He was trying to restore his confidence. Not pride. But confidence that Jesus had accepted him again and had not cast him off and kicked him out of the ministry.
But what is the essential ingredient that is needed in order for Peter to feed the sheep of Jesus?
- What did Jesus say again? Jesus asked Peter – Peter, do you love me? If you love me, then feed my sheep.
- You see, it’s not just simply love for the sheep. The question wasn’t Peter, do you love my sheep? Jesus asked – do you love ME?!
- The essential ingredient that we need if we want to feed the sheep, to take care of the flock is – you must love Jesus!
- You know it is possible to take care of the flock of God because that is our job, that is our occupation, because that is what we are paid to do! It’s possible to be in ministry like a job and not a calling. I’m a pastor, this is the way I support myself and so in order to keep my job I need to do this, this, this and this. This is my job description.
- John 10:11-13
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 — The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
- Too many of us are hirelings. We do it for the wages. We do it for the reputation. We do it for whatever reason except love to Jesus. But Jesus paints it a different way. If you really want to be an effective shepherd, if you really want to have a passion for people, if you really want to feed the flock of God, we must have love for Jesus.
- If we have love for Christ, we will have love for those that He loves. If we have love for Jesus, we will feed the flock of God. That is the key ingredient. We can’t fabricate love for the unlovable. We can’t just manufacture love. That love comes from our love for Christ.
- And so that is why Jesus asked Peter – Peter, do you love me? Do you love me above all these? Do you love me above everything this world has to offer?!
And so today I ask a question for each of us as we have come to the last study of our encounters with Jesus series.
- Do we really love everyone around us? Do we have a passion for the lost? Do we have a desire to work the works of God and to feed the flock of God?
- If not, it is most likely because we don’t have the love of Jesus abiding in our souls. We haven’t encountered Christ! In fact, we simply have an acquaintance with Jesus. We have a surface level understanding and relationship with Him. But we don’t really love Him.
Jesus, the Son of God, gave His life for you and for me. Every blessing that we receive on this earth, it comes from Him. Even if you think you earned it and deserved it, it still came from Him. He gave you the intellect. He is the One that gave you the strength. We owe our all being and our existence to God. The safety from this pandemic. The breath in our bodies. The sustenance that He continues to provide for each of us. The sun that rises each day on each of us. That is God’s grace to everyone of us.
And today, He’s asking again… will you give me a chance? Please open the door of your heart. I’m waiting to come in.
Do you love Jesus today?
Friends, I pray that these studies have been a blessing to you. That you have had a deeper experience with Jesus in His Word. I pray that we all have grown more in love with Jesus. May God bless each of you!