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Summary: What can we learn from the fishing expedition?

Jn 21:1-19


As I mentioned on Easter Sunday, John records only four of the Post Resurrection appearances of Jesus.

I think his reason for doing so is that the aim of his book is to awaken faith – and not to be JUST a historical record of the times of Jesus.

This does not mean that the Gospel is fiction – far from it – it is historically accurate but it isn’t written to be a history of the beginnings of Christianity

In other words, history impinges on the Gospel but unlike St Luke’s Gospel and Acts which were written to give a historical account of the beginnings of Christianity , John’s Gospel has another aim.

John gives us a clue to his aim in the last two verses of the previous chapter.

St John writes

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. Jn 20:30-31)

So how does this post Resurrection appearance fit the criteria of awaking faith?

So how does this post Resurrection appearance fit the criteria of awaking faith?

I would like to suggest that this post Resurrection appearance fulfils the criteria because it tells us something about the nature of Jesus and why we can trust following him.

And there are three attributes that this story tells us about Jesus

These are:

1. Jesus offers forgiveness

2. Jesus is realistic about our needs

3. Jesus commissions us from where we are and not from where we are not!

1. Jesus offers forgiveness

The Gospel is a gospel of forgiveness and this episode shows Jesus restoring Peter PUBLICALLY to fellowship.

On Good Friday Peter denied Jesus three times and wept bitterly. Now Jesus gives Peter the chance to make amends.

In our Gospel reading, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves him and Peter answers “Yes I love you.”

But in translation,we miss the nuances

Let me explain: There are four words in Greek that are translated by our word: Love

Agapao (ἀγάπη agápē):

This is divine, unconditioned love.

It is the unconditional love that we as Christians receive from God as agapao love.

Phileo (φιλία philía):

Phileo expresses love and friendship which is "platonic".

The city of Philadephia - the city of “brotherly love” is derived from the word for lobve – “phileo”

The other two words for love are not important to the story but - for completeness - they are:

Eros (ἔρως érōs):

This is best described as Romantic love. Often equated in ancient Greek, with desire. Sometimes this is also equated with "lust". And from which our word erotic comes

Storge (στοργή storgē)

This love is best translated as natural affection.

(my thanks to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_ for_love)

Now let’s look at the story again

Jesus first asks Simon Peter:

“Simon, do you have “agapao love “for me.”

Peter - by now the realist – replies:

“ I have “phileo love” for you.

Jesus asks Simon Peter again:

“ Do you have “agapao love“ for me,

And Peter replies: I have “phileo love” for you.

Jesus then asks a third time:

Do you have “phileo love” for me”

And Peter replies this time – and by the third time it is becoming a very painful experience

“Yes, Lord, you know I have “phileo love” for you.

And Jesus restores Peter.

1.1 Peter /Judas

Why you might ask was Peter given a chance to repent but Judas wasn’t.

I think the answer lies in the motivation of both men.

Peter was scared for his life when he denied Jesus, but Judas was under no such pressure.

In contrast Judas’ betrayal was cynical and calculating. He could have pulled out of it anytime up until betraying Jesus with a kiss.

And Judas had remorse for effect of his callous act whereas Peter had remorse for letting Jesus down.

Note how Peter cried bitterly at his weakness – whereas Judas simply went back to throw the blood money at the feet of the Jewish High Priest.

In effect Judas tried to make things right by his own conscience by saying “I am no longer responsible - as I am giving you back your blood money."

But the deed was done by then.

2. Jesus is realistic about how much we as humans can take

Some scholars have been harsh on the disciples. They argue that the disciples were disobedient because they went back to Galilee fishing.

They argue that as the disciples had just experienced Jesus dying and rising again – and because Jesus had given them a task to do “beginning in Jerusalem”, they had no right being in Galilee at al let lone fishing. Here is an example of disobedience and apostasy

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