John 21:1-14 – Jesus Appears at the Lake of Tiberias

Christian MölkJohn Leave a Comment

John 21:1

  1. This is the third time after Jesus’ resurrection that Jesus appears to his disciples. Earlier, an angel had promised the disciples that they would meet Jesus in Galilee (Matthew 28:7).
  2. Lake Tiberias is also known as Lake Gennesaret or the Sea of Galilee.

John 21:2

  1. Seven of the disciples, two of whom are not mentioned by name, gather in Galilee to fish together.
    1. Peter was seen as the leader of the disciples and his name is mentioned first. But it is interesting that even those who are not mentioned by name get to meet Jesus.
      1. Similarly, there are many Christians who are never mentioned by name or become “famous”. But they too get to meet Jesus just as much as the great famous leaders.

John 21:3

  1. There seems to have been great uncertainty about the future among the disciples. The death and resurrection of Jesus must have made a very strong impression on the disciples, but now weeks had passed and they had not met Jesus for a long time. What about the future?
  2. As Peter walked with Jesus, he and the other disciples were part of a community that seems to have been sustained by means other than work. For example, we know that there were many “who served them with what they had” (Luke 8:3).
    1. This sustaining community seems to have been greatly affected by the death of Jesus, and perhaps even dissolved. Now Peter does not seem to know how to support himself and his family, so he returns to his former occupation as a fisherman.
    1. It is understandable if Peter was uncertain about his future after Jesus’ death and therefore returns to what he was doing before he met Jesus.
  3. Anyone who has ever been out fishing knows that sometimes you go home empty-handed. No matter how good your fishing skills are, the fish don’t always bite and it’s not always possible to know exactly why. Anyone who wants to work as a fisherman needs to be aware of this. But at the same time, a fisherman must constantly try new methods until he finally gets his fish.
    1. In the same way, those who work to “fish people out” need to be aware that no matter how good an evangelist you are, and no matter how good the conditions, it doesn’t always work.
    1. Anyone who wants to see long-term results must continue working faithfully and not become discouraged when things don’t go as well as planned.
    1. If you want to become a good fisherman, you have to learn to try many new methods until you finally find the right one and get a big catch.
  4. Anyone who has begun to serve God and work in the Lord’s service knows that it is very difficult to go back to a normal job. Certainly, one is often tempted to give up when one does not get any “fish”, but at the same time it is very difficult because one is experiencing the Lord’s call.

John 21:4-6

  1. In the midst of uncertainty, discouragement and frustration, they hear a voice calling from the shore.
  2. Almost every time Jesus appears to the disciples after his resurrection, it is sudden and unexpected. This time they don’t even understand that it’s Jesus.
    1. It is also interesting to note that this time Jesus did not appear when the disciples were in prayer meeting or in the temple or synagogue. This time Jesus appeared when they were at work. From this we can learn that Jesus is interested in our whole life. Jesus wants to meet us not only on Sundays, but also on weekdays, at work, at the kitchen table, etc., etc.
  3. It must have been very hard for experienced fishermen to have to admit that they hadn’t caught any fish when Jesus asks if they have anything to eat.
    1. Jesus, of course, already knows the answer to his question, but wants the disciples to realize that it is frustrating and difficult to get “fish” without Jesus’ clear instructions.
  4. The advice that Jesus gives the disciples did not exactly follow any kind of “fishing logic”. After all, you hardly get more fish if you cast the net on one side of the boat or the other.
    1. The tip that Jesus gives his disciples can only be given by someone who can supernaturally see where there are fish. Since this tip does not follow any kind of logic, it must be received with faith and trust that Jesus knows best.
  5. When we work to reach new people with the gospel, we must always be prepared to change the way we work if we receive instructions from Jesus. We must always be prepared to reassess our vision if we find the Lord leading us in a different direction. We must always be prepared to try new methods if we are not reaching people in the usual way.
  6. When Peter “went fishing” he went back to his old life before he met Jesus. Peter did not necessarily commit a “sin” when he did this, but this story shows us that he, who had a missionary calling on his life, did not do what was right either.
    1. When the disciples went their own way, they got no fish at all, but when they did as Jesus said, they got more fish than they could pull up! The difference between getting no fish at all and getting more fish than you can pull up is Jesus’ guidance.
    1. Because of the connection between success and Jesus’ instructions, it is imperative to seek God and ask for guidance when trying to reach new people with the gospel.
  7. The great capture probably caused Peter to recall a similar event earlier in his walk with Jesus (Luke 5:1-11).

John 21:7-8

  1. “The disciple whom Jesus loved” is most likely the apostle and evangelist John (John 13:23).
  2. John is often careful to point out that he was ahead of Peter in understanding who Jesus is. When Jesus had risen, John writes that they both ran to the tomb, but that John “ran faster than Peter and came to the tomb first”, although he stopped outside and let Peter go in first (John 20:4). John also wants to point out that he was the first to believe in Jesus’ resurrection (John 20:8), and now he is ahead of Peter in understanding that it is Jesus who is standing on the shore and crying out.
    1. But just as at the tomb, John is the one who first sees and realizes, but Peter is the one who reacts. Peter seems more decisive and straightforward, while John is more insightful and thoughtful. Two people who undeniably complement each other quite well.
  3. Peter’s reaction when he realizes that it is Jesus waiting on the shore is to immediately drop everything he has at hand and throw himself into the water to be with Jesus as quickly as possible!
    1. Peter had previously fallen into sin and denied Jesus. Yet Peter did not want to stay away from the Lord.
    1. Whatever sin we may have fallen into, we should not let this prevent us from turning back to Jesus in haste when we come to our senses.

John 21:9-11

  1. Sharing a meal was in biblical times, and still is, a sign of community. Cooking for others is a sign of service. All in all, Jesus shows Peter and the other disciples that he cares for them, wants to fellowship with them and is not afraid to serve his disciples.
  2. 153 large fish plus a wet net probably weighed about 150 kg. To haul in such a heavy catch alone shows that Peter was powerful and strong as a quarryman.
  3. The fact that John is careful to point out exactly how many fish there were and that the net did not break shows that he was an eyewitness, and that he was an experienced fisherman (Matthew 4:18-22).
  4. Why does Johannes note that there were just 153 fish? Some ancient writers believed that there were only 153 different kinds of fish. The number of fish then becomes a symbolic figure that means that people from “all nations” throughout the world will believe the gospel and be saved.

John 21:12-14

  1. Jesus shows his care and friendship for his disciples by offering them food. However, the disciples seem to have been caught up in the moment and remained silent. After all, it’s not every day that you sit and eat food with the risen Jesus!
    1. The silent reaction of the disciples is not really so strange. Many of us would like to meet the risen Jesus and eat with him, but if that were to happen, we would probably be so impressed by Jesus’ holiness that we would be unable to say anything sensible.
    1. Perhaps the disciples sat silently contemplating the fact that they had gone back to their old lives even though Jesus wanted them to go out and tell all the people about him. Maybe they sat silent because they were ashamed of the way Peter, for example, denied Jesus, or Thomas, who demanded proof of his resurrection. Whatever their reason for being silent, Jesus was still kind, inviting and ministering.
      1. No matter what sins we have committed in the past, it is never too late to turn back to Jesus!
Share & Print

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *