Summary: Jesus gives us lots of opportunities to join him
This story of the final appearance of Jesus to his disciples took place a couple weeks after Easter; the disciples seemed at wit’s end… Jesus has died, they were not really sure about the resurrection (even though they have seen the risen Christ once or twice). But they were still together, bound by their belief in Jesus, but not really sure what to do. They had just walked over 70 miles over mountains and rough terrain, going back to the Sea Of Galilee, a site where they had pleasant memories of Jesus. They were aimlessly wandering around, lost without their leader.
Peter, the impetuous one, was bored and decided to go fishing; and the other disciples joined him. None of them had anything better to do.
After an entire night of fishing, they were NOT catching a thing!
Then a stranger appeared on the distant shore and told them to put their nets on the other side of the boat. . . sort of a logical thing if you know anything about fishing (fish don’t just swim in one part of a lake). And suddenly they caught so many fish that they couldn’t haul the net in by themselves.
Finally, a disciple recognizes the stranger as Jesus. Peter, wanting to be as close to Jesus as possible, jumped in the lake and swam to the shore to be near Jesus.
The disciples hauled their nets in and came ashore to eat a meal with Jesus. This was a re-enactment of the Last Supper, the meal in the locked room after Jesus’ resurrection and the meal on the road to Emmaus.
His name was Simon Peter – this man who leapt in the water to swim to Jesus. We remember him as the disciple who tried to walk on water, but started sinking when the waves and wind blew his faith away. He testified to Jesus as the Son of God, yet denied Him three times in one night. He swore never to forsake his Master, but ran away for fear of his life.
Simon Peter: A man of broken promises. A man of failures.
His name was Simon Peter. We remember him as a great apostle. He boldly and tirelessly proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God. He baptized hundreds and thousands of people. He performed miracles by healing the sick and raising the dead. People chased his shadow believing that it could heal them.
Simon Peter: A man of success. A man of Fame.
What made Simon Peter, a man of broken promises, become Simon Peter, a man faithful to his promises?
What turned Peter’s defeat into victory?
What transformed Peter’s failures into fame?
What made Simon Peter, a discouraged fisherman from Galilee, become Simon Peter, an inspired fisher of men for God’s kingdom?
What made Simon Peter become Peter, the ‘rock’ of the church to come?
Consider the similarities between Peter’s first calling to follow Jesus in Matthew and this account in John:
• Both occurred on the Sea Of Galilee,
• both times Peter couldn’t catch even a minnow,
• both times Jesus told him to throw his net into the water and
• both times there was a miraculous catch.
Some times when you have fallen, the best thing to do is go back to where it all began. Jesus is going back to offer Peter another beginning, a second chance to make things right.
So after the meal, Jesus turned to Peter. In full view of all the other disciples, Jesus confronted Peter. Peter was full of doubts concerning where he now stood with Jesus. I suspect he feared the day when Jesus might say something like, “Peter, why did you deny me?’ Yet Jesus had too much compassion to twist the knife of guilt in Peter’s heart. Rather, His goal was to remove Peter’s guilt, to perform deep soul-surgery and effectively cut out the ache from Peter’s heart.
In John 21:15, we read:
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more
Notice the name change here. Jesus didn’t refer to ‘Peter’ as ‘Peter The Rock’, . . . simply as ‘Simon’. The title of ‘Peter The Rock’ that had been given to him by Jesus when Peter acknowledged him as The Messiah, no longer fit. A rock is strong and above all, dependable, and Peter had been anything but dependable.
Jesus asks again:
"Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" (John 21:15)
More than what? More than the fish?
This is a reference to Peter’s boast in the Upper Room that he would never abandon Jesus. Peter had been boastful and full of bravado, and Jesus was asking:
‘Simon, are you still willing to make that claim?’