John 21

Jesus and the Miraculous Catch of Fish

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.“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.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.  ”When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus Reinstates Peter

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. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.


After Jesus’ death on a cross, there was much fear among the disciples. They were confused and doubting the last three years of their lives. Had they been fooled? Was Jesus, the one who was just beaten and killed in such a humiliatingly public manner, truly the Messiah?

Then Jesus came and stood among them saying (I’m paraphrasing), “I’m here just like I said I would be. Put away your fear and replace it with my peace. As the Father sent me, now I am sending you. There is work to do!” (John 20)

But even after this second appearance to the disciples, (the first was at the empty tomb), we find the disciples going back to life as normal, returning to their old jobs, and doing what they did before meeting Jesus. They went fishing. It’s as if the previous three years with Jesus were just a fading memory. Perhaps it was just easier to move on then to do the work required of a disciple. Maybe they were a little relieved.

Then the risen Christ finds these disciples/fishermen and says (again, I’m paraphrasing), “It’s not over. We are just getting started. Do you love me? Then get out of those boats and feed my sheep. Go find my people and teach them the things I have taught you. Get busy!”

There is a temptation to return to routine and life as normal after Easter. We can so easily put Easter back on the shelf until next year. But we are an Easter people! Jesus has risen and continues to call us to feed his sheep. God’s story of redemption and restoration doesn’t end on Easter Sunday, rather, it begins anew! Easter Monday is about following Jesus, now. It is about living as if God is victorious, unstoppable, triumphant, now. It is about being the church, now.

If Jesus’ death on the cross has been defeated by the empty tomb at Easter, what other victories is God working on? How is God working in your life and in mine to give us victory over temptation, struggle, and sin and death? Where is the new life to be found right now, today? God’s story is alive and you are a major player. What will you do about that today? 


Holy One, we are grateful for the resurrection we celebrated this week. We live in awe of your goodness and your greatness. Help us not move on from this Holy season, but live instead as Easter people, driven by the love and grace of Christ. Shape our souls, feed our spirit, and guide us with your Holy Spirit. In the name of the risen Christ, Amen.