Chapter 21 is the final chapter in the Gospel of John. So much has been written and John has captured for history some amazing events. There are signs and wonders, changed lives, and Jesus himself resurrected. So what is left so share? What is next for the disciples?
3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. John 21:3 ESV
If I asked my closest friends, and coworkers to go fishing it would be considered a diversion or vacation type of trip. Fishing is a recreational event for me. However fishing for Peter was something more. It was a business and a way of life for Peter. Fishing was his profession from before he encountered Jesus.
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. Matthew 4:18 ESV
Peter has been through an amazing ride for the last several years seeing and hearing amazing things since that first day he abandoned the fishing business. But the ride is over. Jesus presented himself as a resurrected savior, and Jesus did not set up an earthly kingdom to overthrow the Romans so what was left for Peter to do? It is time to move on. Peter is doing what would only be natural and that is to go back to the life he knew before Jesus. The life of a fisherman.
Peter’s first day back in business is not successful and a stranger yelling from the shore tells the men to cast their net on the other side of the boat. They give it a try and the net fills to overflowing with fish. Having witnessed signs and been in the presence of Jesus for several years this unlikely catch of fish draws immediate attention of the disciples on the boat.
7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. John 21:7 ESV
Peter’s move to go back to the work and business of fishing was not born out of a passion or a heart to be a fisherman anymore. It was born out of a lack of any other direction for life. At the first mention of Jesus Peter abandons the financial haul of fish and jumps in the sea to swim back to shore. His passion and desire is still with Jesus whom has returned once again. This event is the third time Jesus has appeared to the disciples with the first two being in the upper room. The first without Thomas and the second with Thomas present. Jesus has a specific goal in this third appearance to restore Peter and give him a new mission for life that does not include the old life as a fisherman.
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. John 21:15-17 ESV
Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved him an obvious reference to the number of times Peter rejected Jesus at the crucifixion. It is clear from every move and word that Peter loves Jesus and it is obvious that his passion resides with his Savior. One can just see these men sitting around a fire on the beach eating some of the freshly caught fish. Jesus spreads his hand out to the fish, the boat, and the shoreline… “Peter do you love me more than these?” do you love me more than this life? Do you love what the world provides more than me? Peter with all sincerity answers that Jesus is his first love. He is not the same man that he was before when Jesus first encountered him on that shoreline.
Jesus as demonstrated from the opening of John as the Word made flesh through the crucifixion that he is in complete control of everything securing the will of the Father. Even when Jesus called Peter years before notice his prophetic message.
18 While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 19 And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:18-19 ESV
Jesus promised to give Peter a new profession. Jesus told Peter that he would be a fisher of men and here we are at the conclusion of John with Jesus giving charge to Peter to be head of his future church. Tend my Sheep and feed my flock Jesus tells Peter. Peter is forever changed and there is no returning to his old life. What about you? Have you encountered the very Creator of this world? Have you been born again as Jesus told Nicodemas? Have you believed in the resurrected Savior like Thomas in the upper room? Have you been given a new commission on life like Peter here at the conclusion of this Gospel? Now is the time to reconcile with Jesus, the word made flesh, the only name under heaven that can save us from condemnation, and Immanuel God with us.