Scripture: John 21
When Jesus was crucified, the disciples' hopes were dashed, their beliefs were challenged, and their faith was shaken. This is why Jesus had to reveal Himself again and again to His disciples after His resurrection.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself. (Lk 24:27)
Then He opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. (Lk 24:45)
After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
We as believers need not be afraid of our past because Christ wants us to go back and face our failings together with Him, so that He can redefine our future.
The scenario painted in John 21 is Jesus' divine orchestration of His appearance specifically for Peter.
I. His Past Revisited
A. His Environment Re-enacted
1. The Place of His Calling
Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. (Jn 21:1)
As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. (Mt 4:18)
We can compare John 21:2-8 with Lk 5:1-7 -
- They had spent the night fishing on the Sea of Galilee and had caught nothing.
- Jesus instructed the fishermen to let down their nets again and he promised that they would get a catch.
- Peter obeyed and there was a great catch of fish, so great that they had difficulty hauling in their catch.
2. The Place of His Failing
When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. (Jn 21:9)
54 Then seizing [Jesus], they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. (Lk 22:54-55)
B. His Character Reflected
His character was reflected in his actions, unchanged even after the resurrection and after Jesus’ initial revelation to him.
1. The Impetuous Disciple
As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him and jumped into the water. (Jn 21:7)
Remember that Peter was infamous for his quick reactions, both with good and bad results:
- Peter was the one to walk on water to Jesus (Mt 14:28)
- Peter was the first to rebuke Jesus when told that Jesus would have to suffer and die (Mt 16:22)
- On the high mountain with James and John, Peter saw Moses and Elijah with Jesus at the transfiguration and he offered to build three shelters.
- Peter was the one who acted impulsively and cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest when Jesus was arrested.
2. The Proud Leader
His leadership was without question.
“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (Jn 21:3)
Yet Peter demonstrated pride disguised as humility.
4 so [Jesus] got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” 8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (Jn 13:4-8)
Peter could not tolerate the idea of the Messiah, the Son of God, humbling Himself to do what a servant was supposed to do. He refused to acknowledge his need to be washed. He refused any help, especially menial help, more so from His Master. Peter didn't feel like He needed Jesus to die for him! Therefore, Jesus had to break down the pride and false humility.
Instead of escaping the world, believing in Jesus teaches us how to live holy and in right standing in God no matter what, so that at the end and for eternity we can be face to face with our loving Saviour, our mighty Creator, our gracious and merciful God.
Jesus must take us back to revisit our past to walk through them together!
II. His Future Redefined
A. His Life Restored
1. The Public Confession
When they had finished eating ... (Jn 21:15)
Just as Peter’s denial was done publicly in the witness of the guards and servants, so too Peter’s restoration and confession of love would need to be done publicly.
2. The Personal Restoration
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” (Jn 21:15-17)
The first question sought to deal with Peter's pride.
The second question sought to deal with Peter's impulsiveness.
The third question sought to bring full restoration and healing through brokenness.
Three times Peter denied Christ, and now three times Peter declares His love for Christ.
B. His Call Renewed
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. (Mt 16:18)
1. The Call to Disciple
In every affirmation of love that Peter gave, Jesus gave Peter these commands - “Feed my lambs”, “Take care of my sheep”, “Feed my sheep”.
I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (Jn 10:11)
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (Jn 13:35)
Peter learnt his lesson well, and demonstrated an understanding of this calling.
1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder … 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock … not because you must, but because you are willing, … 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock … 5 … All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” 6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. (1 Pe 5:1-6)
2. The Call to Commitment
... 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!” ... 22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” (Jn 21:18-22)
Peter is challenged - will he follow Jesus even when things don't turn out as expected, even when it brings pain and suffering, even when it means that he will be humiliated and led to places you do not want to go?
Not everything is going to be known, and not everything is going to be within our control. Yet the command is the same. Follow Jesus wholeheartedly.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psa 23:4)
Jesus needs to get into the deep recesses of our heart - to reach in and helps us confront our dark moments, revisiting the hurt, the shame, the guilt, the pride, the wrong, all the darkness in our past. Jesus revisits the past with us, so that He can redefine our future.
Allow Him ACCESS to every part of your life.