THE 89 DAY GOSPEL CHALLENGE
DAY EIGHTY-NINE JOHN TWENTY-ONE
Our portrait is finished. Four artists, led by the Holy Spirit, has painted a Masterpiece. Matthew painted the King. Mark gave us the Perfect Servant. Luke saw Him as the Perfect Man. John declared that He is God. The Gospels comprise the only authoritative story of the life and Person of Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is the most amazing Person in all history. But He is more than King or Servant or Man or God. He is the Savior of the world. I pray He is your Savior.
1. The Fishing Trip (v. 1-14)
This is the epilogue to John’s story. Where the other Gospels end with either the Great Commission or the ascension of Jesus, John records an episode where Jesus interacted with seven of His disciples. We are not told how long after the resurrection this occurred but we know this is the third time the risen Jesus had appeared to them. They knew He was alive. They knew the mission He gave them. But they are moving in the opposite direction.
Peter was always the leader. Sometimes he spoke from his heart and sometimes he spoke from his head and sometimes he spoke impulsively. He always spoke from his humanity. But no one doubted he was second-in-command.
We are not told the reason for the gathering. Maybe they just lacked direction and the others thought they would find it from Peter. Finally, he told them, “I am going fishing.” He was not referring to a casual pleasure outing. He was saying, “I’m finished. It’s over. I’m done.”
He had denied his Lord and the pain of his failure was more than he could bear. The great adventure was over. There was nowhere else to go but to what he knew best. He announced that he was returning to his fishing business. And the other six said, “We quit too.”
We know Peter was an emotional person. Sometimes his emotions got the best of him. What were the others thinking? Thomas was still struggling with his faith. He knew Jesus was alive. He had even acknowledged Jesus as Lord. But it just wasn’t’ the same anymore.
Nathanael was a skeptic from the beginning. Jesus had won him over and he was a great follower. Now he followed Peter. He doubted there were any miracles left and the power was gone. Better to fish than to fail at the “witnessing thing.”
The sons of Zebedee were there, James and John. What’s John doing there? Isn’t he the disciple of love? He was the closest to Jesus. Now he is AWOL, absent without the Lord. But remember Jesus nicknamed these brothers the sons of Boanerges in Mark 3:17 (sons of thunder). They wanted Jesus to call down fire on a Samaritan village when the village refused to accommodate Jesus (Luke 9:54). They were hotheads.
With that remember that John was at the cross and was eyewitnesses to the abuse and pain Jesus suffered. He was angry with the Jews and the Romans. Why should he be concerned with the souls of those who killed his Lord? Maybe he even wanted revenge. He missed the point when Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them.” Maybe Jesus forgave them, but John was not ready.
There were also two other disciples that were not named. They may not have been any of the twelve. He had other disciples. Maybe they were just following the crowd like so many others do today. They went out together and found a boat and worked all night on the lake. Their venture was not successful.
In the morning, Jesus appeared on the shore and called out to them, “Children, have you any food?” They did not recognize Him at first. Perhaps He addressed them as children out of affection. Perhaps because these men were acting like children, hurt and confused and angry.
They answered Him, “No, we have taken nothing.” Jesus instructed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat and told them they would find fish there. They may have experienced a little déjà vu. This had happened before early in their walk with Jesus (Luke 5:1-5).
When they cast their nets where Jesus had instructed, they caught so many fish they were not able to draw the net into the boat. They all wondered but John spoke up and said, “It is the Lord!” They were caught in their unfaithfulness and they knew it.
They never got the fish in the boat but they dragged the net with their catch to the shore. Jesus had prepared a fire for their meal and told them to bring some of the fish to Him. They had caught one hundred and fifty-three large fish and they were amazed that their net did not break.
Jesus called them to “Come and eat breakfast.” It was a quiet meal. No one spoke. But they all knew it was Jesus. As the seven wayward disciples settled in, Jesus served them and brought them fish and bread. It was a meal with purpose. Can you imagine that they remembered the words of Jesus when He taught them, “I am the vine and you are the branch. Without Me, you can do nothing.” Their little business venture proved it once again.
2. Do You Love Me? (v. 15-19)
Peter was uncharacteristically quiet that morning. There was no mention of building tabernacles or talk of the great catch of fish. He just wanted to blend into the background and be as small and unnoticed as possible. But it wasn’t possible.
Jesus broke the silence. “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love me more than these?” It was an ambiguous statement. What was Jesus asking?
1) He could have been pointing to the fish and saying, “Do you love me more than you love the fish? If so, why were you fishing?”
2) He could have been pointing around at the fire and asked, “Do you love me more than you love your friends? If you love your friends so much, why were you leading them astray?”
3) He could have been inquiring, “Do you love me more than the others love me? You told me you would die for me. You said you would never deny me.”
Peter quietly responded, “Yes Lord, You know that I love You.” And Jesus did know that Peter loved Him all along, even in the denial. Jesus said, “Feed my lambs. We don’t know why Jesus said lambs. I think He was referring to the disciples who were there with Peter. “Peter, you must feed and lead these lambs. They look to you for direction. You have to be the leader I want you to be.”
Two more times Jesus asked, “Do you love me?” It stung a bit. Peter had denied Jesus three times and Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter got the point. He said, “Lord, You know all things. You know that I love You!” And it was enough. Jesus said, “Feed My sheep. You must feed all those who accept me as Lord.”
Then Jesus prophesied of Peter’s death. “You will be faithful but one day, they will carry you where you do not want to go and you will stretch out your hands and glorify me by your death. You will not deny Me. Now, follow Me.” Peter was crucified in Rome. upside down at his request, because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner Jesus died.
3. What about John? (v. 20-23)
As they walk away from the fire, Peter turns and sees John. Peter questioned, “What about John? How will he die?”
Jesus responded, “What is that to you? What if I said that John would live until I come again. You stay focused and follow Me.”
John commented that what Jesus said was circulated among the brothers and sisters that he would not die. But that is not what Jesus said. He said, “What if?”
4. John’s Final Words (v. 24,25)
In verse 24, John said, “I am the one who gives testimony to the life of Jesus and I say to you, my testimony is true. He was the last of the Apostles. His word was authoritative.
Then in wide-eyed amazement, John looked back over the years and remembered so many other things Jesus did in his presence. He ends with the words, “I suppose that if I had written everything down that I saw, even the world itself could not contain the volumes that should be written.
At last, we are finished. I will post tomorrow to let you know what is coming next.
Walk with the Lord today.