Text: John 21 The Lesson for Peter – the blessings of the Lord are ahead of us
We will look tonight at Peter and his decisions that affected, not only him, but the other disciples also. Peter, not being sure where he stood in his relationship with the Lord, determined to return to the activities of life he was familiar with – fishing. He had been successful in his partnership with his brother and been able to support his family. In all of his life, before meeting the Lord, he had never cowered before men or been completely filled with fear, shame, and overwhelming guilt. Twice he had met with Jesus since the resurrection and twice the issue was unresolved. Jesus had spoken to him and neither time had the action of Peter been addressed by the Lord nor by Peter. He had neither been confronted nor had he approached the Lord and confessed. Peter was at a crossroads in his life and was unsure what to do. He decided to try to find peace and satisfaction by returning to that which he had left behind to follow the Lord – “I go a fishing”.
His decision affected other disciples and it some joined with him in going back out onto the lake.
We do not know whether the night was spent in conversation or silent contemplation. The only information we have of what transpired in the fishing boat that night is that their toil was fruitless – the nets remained empty.
As the darkness of the night gave way to the shadowy light of dawn, the ship was about a football field in distance from the shore. The men heard a voice – a question being asked by one on the shore – “Children, have ye any meat.” Thus began the restoration of Simon, the son of Jonas, to the Apostle Peter, preacher of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I. His return to the activity he was so familiar with, fishing on ‘his’ lake.
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.
II. His reaction to the presence of the Lord. John 21:7-11
A. The Awkward meeting.
John 21:7-8 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. 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.
It seems that he did not know quite what to do. He responded to the presence of the Lord by immediately going to Him, yet we have no record of any conversation between them. He may have simply stood in an uncomfortable silence, watching the men bring the boat to the shore. He would have noticed a fire already prepared with fish roasting and bread nearby.
B. The Accounting of the power and blessings of God.
John 21:9-11 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 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.
1. The work throughout the night brought them no gain.
2. The Word of the Lord brought them abundance of fish.
As the men alighted from the boat, Jesus called to them to bring their catch of fish onto the shore, at which instruction Peter went and helped them to secure the miraculous catch of fish.
Again, we have no record of any conversation between the disciples as they secured the net and the fish. Did they ask Peter “Did He say anything to you”? Did they ask “Where did the fire, the fish, and the bread come from”? We did not see Him when we set out from the shore last night”.
Would they remember the words that had been spoken to them just three years before “..follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”? It was such a simple thing for the Lord to make them fishers of fish – but in truth, what is more important?
III. His Response to the questions from the Lord. John 21:15-17
John 21:15-17 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. 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. 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.
The questions were posed in such a way to make Peter consider his love for the Lord.
A. Did he love the Lord more than his old life. “…more than these” – the fish and all that they stood for?
B. Did he love the Lord than his own comfort – to be a leader (willing to die for the sheep) – tend my sheep? Did he now know his own heart and instead of making boast of his own courage, he would stand in his love for the Lord?
C. Did he love the Lord enough to do whatever he would have to do in the establishment of the Lord’s people in the will and Word of God unto the death? Peter’s response to this, the Lord’s question the third time brought him to grief. He knew that the Lord knows all things, that Jesus knew of Peter’s three denials of the Lord – each denial more intense than the other until he lost all control. As Peter was grieved then when he realized what he had done, he was grieved now as he confessed his whole heart and mind to the Lord.
The Restoration was complete. Peter was not perfect, but he was prepared to serve the Lord “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” He would Feed the Lord’s Sheep!
Do not consider turning back. The blessings of the Lord are ahead of us!