Lesson 116

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

21:1 After these things, Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself this way. 21:2 Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 21:3 Simon Peter said to them, "I'm going fishing."

They told him, "We are also coming with you." They immediately went forth, and entered into the boat. That night, they caught nothing. 21:4 But when day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach, yet the disciples didn't know that it was Jesus. 21:5 Jesus therefore said to them, "Children, have you anything to eat?"

They answered him, "No."

21:6 He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some."

They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it in for the multitude of fish. 21:7 That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It's the Lord!"

 Today's Lesson 

The final chapter of the Gospel of John is often called "The Restoration of Peter." Most scholars believe the Gospel originally ended with chapter 20 and chapter 21 was added as an addendum. The final two verses in chapter 20 seem like a natural way of ending the book and chapter 21 is a complete story that could stand on its own.


The narrative tells of another revelation of the Risen Christ to Peter and the disciples. When this event happened is problematic especially when attempts are made to reconcile this account with the Synoptics and the Book of Acts. The event takes place at the sea of Tiberias, which was the Roman name for the Sea of Galilee. Seven of the disciples of Jesus were together and Simon Peter says to the other six, "I'm going fishing."


What is lost in the translation of those words is the force of the Peter's pronouncement in the Greek text. Peter is declaring that he is returning to fishing as an occupation. He is going to return to fishing as a way of life. Peter had lost a lot with the death of Jesus. Not only had he lost his Rabbi, his Teacher, and friend but when Peter denied Christ three times on the night of His trial Peter also lost his self-respect. Peter had said that he was willing to defend Jesus with his life. In the end, he had proved otherwise.


When Peter returns to his fishing boat the other disciples decide to follow. They went out and fished all night and did not catch anything. Perhaps their hearts were not truly in it, but to fish all night and catch nothing must have been a great disappointment for these Galilean fishermen.


As dawn was rising in the east over the lake, they saw a man standing on the shore that they had been fishing along. The man stood and waved to them across the water and yelled to them, "Children, have you anything to eat?" It was not uncommon for people along the shore to buy fish from the fishermen and so His gesture would have been an acceptable part of a fisherman's occupation. But these newly returned fishermen had come up empty on this night and they had no fish to sell Him.


When they told Him so, He told them to cast out their nets again on the right side of the boat and that there would be fish there. And, to their amazement when they cast their nets out to the right side and began to draw them in the nets were completely full of fish. They had caught nothing the whole night and with one cast they netted several days worth of fish!


The miraculous catch causes one in their group to understand what was happening. The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" This was not the first miraculous catch of fish for these men. There are several such recorded incidents. And every prior incident was associated with their Lord. (This incident also seems to narrow "the disciple whom Jesus loved" to one of the seven mentioned in our text.)


They had not recognized Him from afar in the dawn light, but they recognized the miracle when it occurred. Would you be able to spot the works of the Lord in your life? Do you know His ways enough to spot His work in your life?


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