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Summary: Never give up. Always give it all.

Let us read John 21:15-19. “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’ He said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ He said to him, ‘Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, ‘Do you love me?’ and he said to him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.’ (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, ‘Follow me.’”[1]

All of us faced a tough year this year. We feel we just barely survived. We did not thrive. To most of us, it was a tiring year. It was not a thrilling one. Usually, at the end of the year, we either rejoice or regret. We rejoice for the things we fulfilled this year. Or, we regret for the things we failed to do. Either way, as we face a new year, it is tempting to lay low. For those of us who did a lot of things, we may think we have done enough. We feel we deserve a break. For those of us who made a lot of promises but failed to deliver, it is tempting to simply throw in the towel. We think, “Why try at all?” Either way, we end up just watching things happen rather than making it happen. But this morning I challenge you to “Lay it on the line… again.” Never GIVE UP. Always GIVE IT ALL. Let us pray first…

We really don’t know what prompted Peter to suddenly decide, “I am going fishing.” (v. 3) The Lord already appeared twice before the disciples. Some say he was turning his back from the Lord. But he did not say, “I am going back to fishing.” Yet, he “undoubtedly had a sense of failure over his sin in denying the Lord.”[2] Others say that maybe he has some bills to pay and, while waiting for the Lord in Galilee as He had previously told them, he decided to earn some money the way he knew best… fishing. Whatever the reason, the usually impulsive Peter brought with him six other disciples.

Throughout the whole night till dawn they caught nothing. You know, this made some people doubt if they were really good fishermen. It is because whenever the Bible mentioned that they were fishing, they usually caught nothing! Then, about 300 hundred feet away, somebody shouted from the shore, “Do you have any fish?” It was embarrassing but they had to answer “No.” (v. 5) That person on the shore shouted back. “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” (v. 6) At first they did not recognize who that person was. But they obeyed. To their amazement, they caught 153 large fish. John immediately recognized who that person was. “It is the Lord!” (v. 7) Peter was so excited that he jumped from the boat into the water and swam towards the shore to meet the Lord. On the shore, the disciples “saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.” (v. 9) The Lord Himself prepared breakfast for them. Inviting them for breakfast, He “took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.” (v. 13)

Surely, this encounter brought back a lot of memories. The miracle of the big catch must have reminded Peter the day the Lord did a miracle like that also. That day, Jesus called him to become a “fisher of men.”[3] According to the Bible Exposition Commentary, “Jesus called the disciples and us to be ‘fishers of men.’ This phrase was not invented by Jesus; it had been used for years by Greek and Roman teachers. To be a “fisher of men” in that day meant to seek to persuade men and ‘catch’ them with the truth.”[4] It was a reminder of his calling as well as the rest of the disciples. When Jesus distributed the bread and the fish to them, it was His way of reminding them also of the feeding of the 5,000.[5] He may have reminded them also of His last meal with them. The location itself must have brought to Peter’s mind a lot of the moments he spent with the Lord near the vicinity of the Sea of Galilee or the times they crisscrossed the lake. One of them must be the night he walked on water with Jesus.

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