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Why is there a John 21? Why not just take the great ending of chapter 20 where the resurrected Jesus appears to His disciples, and even Thomas believes and says, My Lord and My God?!
When the kids were little we would ask them how much they love us and it was so cute as they would spread out their arms and say, "That much!" Now they are teens and we know better than to pose the question!
Imagine that this story isn't about Peter, it's about you! You are standing eyeball to eyeball with the Lord Jesus! He looks you straight in the eye and asks you, "How much do you love me?"
Whether you know it or not, every aspect of your life is interconnected to your sincere answer to that question.
Jesus has died and risen, and has appeared to the disciples twice before this third appearance on this day at the lake.
Why have a chapter 21? I believe the Holy Spirit of God inspired it to be written, in part because it would be wrong to close the book without letting us know about the restoration of Peter.
The last time Peter saw Jesus he was denying Him publicly, throwing in cuss words to distance himself from the Lord. "I don't know the blankety blank man!" Now in chapter 21 we see Peter being fully restored. And if we didn't see this, we would wonder why Peter plays a leading role in Acts.
In our text, the disciples have gone fishing. Seven of them were professional fishermen before Jesus called them to be 'fishers of men.' A lot of the same character qualities that make for a successful fisherman will make for a successful Christian.
Fishermen in Bible days were:
• Hard working.
You say, "Hardworking preacher, isn't that an oxymoron? Doesn't he just work one day a week? Now, I've known some lazy preachers. One in particular, when his wife asked him if it was raining, wouldn't get up out of his easy chair, he just said, Can't we call the dog inside and see if he's wet?! Ministry done right is hard work, and requires long hours and involves spiritual stress unknown to most.
The Sea of Galilee was known for fierce storms that rose up suddenly out of nowhere.
And today it takes courage to stand for the Lord anywhere on the planet. This is especially true in many parts of Asia, Africa and the Mid-east. But America is not immune to persecution. Those of us who truly stand for something are now being viewed as the problem rather than the solution. Much of our world today wants rid of the Christians - and one day they will get their wish!
This is still true today...you must be patient, unless you employ Bro. Jones' fishing-with-dynamite methods!
And the same is true when working with people. [Not the dynamite thing!] It takes patience to work with people. The church would be a perfect place if not for the people. Church would be a better place if only the Pastor weren't a human being with a sin nature!
Christians don't always grow in the Lord at the rate we would like for them to. It takes patience to let God work and to accept people where they are and patiently love them to where they need to be! I know that if you didn't have patience with me I would have been gone long before my 14th year here!
They used huge nets and unless they worked together they had no chance of catching anything. They had to all pull in the same direction or else everything would rip and come apart, and sadly, they wouldn't catch any fish!
And for a church to function properly, we all need to be onboard the ship using the same plan, and if we look around and we aren't in unity with the majority plan, we need to get onboard and help pull the nets. And if the majority plan is wrong we need to do the respectable thing and find a place that has the Biblical plan!
Now, you just try to place a bunch of men in the same fishing boat and get them to agree on the right plan. It's not going to happen. They had to have a leader. V. 3 [and the whole book of Acts] indicates that Peter was that leader. And he needed to be a better leader than he was. And on this day, Jesus would do some work on the leader, Peter, for the sake of many others who would follow him.
By the way, the Bible clearly teaches that God will take care of His man...and I shudder as I say it! If you don't have a good leader, pray for him, and if there's no hope, don't follow him! And remember, historically, many good people have missed out on God's best by falling for the devil's lie that it's their job to fix their leader! The Bible has much to say about church 'overseers' who are 'over you in the Lord.'