Breakfast with Jesus
(A re-telling of the story of John 21 with some historical fiction added) Posted on my website on 4-14-23.
Peter spoke and acted. Then he thought.
He had seen Jesus, whom he thought was the Messiah, go to the cross and die. And Peter had loudly claimed that though all others forsake Jesus, he would be loyal to the death. Yet he had not only forsaken Jesus. He had denied three times that he even knew Jesus.
Three days later, Peter had seen the empty tomb. He had heard the report of Mary and had been in the upper room with the other disciples when Jesus appeared in the midst and showed them his nail-pierced hands and his wounded side. He knew for sure that Jesus was alive.
After a few days, Peter wondered what would happen to him and the other disciples. What were they going to do with their lives now? Were they still supposed to be fishers of men? Jesus was going away. Would Jesus ever forgive him for his abandonment and denial of Jesus? How could he ever make things right with Jesus again? Would he ever be able to serve Jesus again?
In his discouragement, near the sea of Tiberias, Peter told six of the other disciples that he was going fishing – not for men, but fish. Perhaps the other disciples felt the same as Peter, so they went with him. They caught nothing. It was a wasted night.
When the morning finally came, they saw a man they didn’t know standing on the beach. He asked if they had caught anything, and they answered “no.” He told them to cast their net on the right side of the ship, and they would find. How could this man on the shore, who was not a fisherman, tell them how to fish? They had already fished all night and caught nothing.
Nevertheless, they cast their nets and were immediately overwhelmed with the results. The net was so full and heavy that they couldn’t drag it in. They motioned for the disciples still on the shore to come and help them. Then John took a closer look at the man on the beach and said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Knowing that the Lord was on shore, Peter, eager to meet with the Lord, jumped in the water and swam to shore.
The other disciples came quickly and helped drag the net in with the fishes.
When they arrived on shore, they immediately saw a fire of coals, fish roasting, and bread being warmed. How did Jesus get those fish? Then Jesus told them to bring the fish that they had caught. Peter went up and dragged the net to shore. He counted 153 fish, and they had not broken the netting. Reality struck him. Jesus had not only risen from the dead, but he was still working miracles!
Jesus then invited them to come and dine at his breakfast on the beach. He had prepared it, especially for them, before they had brought in their catch of fish.
After the meal, Jesus invited Peter to take a walk with him. He asked, “Peter, do you love me more than these?” And Peter answered yes. Perhaps Jesus was asking Peter if he loved Jesus more than the other disciples. Just a short time ago, Peter had proudly proclaimed that though everyone else forsook Jesus, he would not. Now he realized he could fail just as easily as any other disciple. But Jesus said briefly, “Feed my lambs.”
Jesus asked Peter two more times, “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?” (John 21:16-17 KJV). Peter answered both times positively. After being asked three times, Peter remembered his triple denial of Jesus. Considering his prior denials, did he sincerely love Jesus? But Peter now had the answers to his questions. Yes, Jesus would forgive him. Yes, Jesus would restore him to both fellowship and service. He was now re-commissioned and knew what Jesus wanted him to do.
Then Jesus gave Peter the challenge: When you were young, you clothed yourself and walked wherever you wanted to. When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will bind you and carry you where you don’t want to go. Jesus spoke of Peter’s future martyrdom. Peter had declared his love for Jesus, and Jesus warned him ahead of time that he would die for Jesus. Peter, are you committed?
And to us today, the question is, Am I committed, and, Are you committed?