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John Chapter 21:1-13

Memory verses for this week: Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.


Introduction:   In our last study, we saw Christ show Himself openly to Mary Magdalene and the disciples on two accounts after His resurrection from the grave.   Thomas, who was not with the disciples when the Lord came to them the first time, doubted and said he would not believe unless he could put his fingers in the nail prints of his hands and thrust his hand into the wound on Jesus’ side.  But one look at the Master when He came to them, and Thomas acknowledged him as “My Lord and my God.”  This week we get into the last chapter of John.  Chapter 21 is an epilogue in a way.  There are three specific incidents in this chapter.  The first is the fishing experience at the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias.)  It shows the Lord Jesus as the Lord of our wills and how He directs our service.  The second incident is the breakfast on the seashore where the Lord presents to them that our love for Him should be our motive to serve God.  Then the last incident is when Jesus announces the upcoming death of Simon Peter.  It shows that Jesus is the Lord of our minds and teaches that lack of knowledge or circumstances in no excuse from service.  The whole chapter reveals that the resurrected Jesus is still God.


I.  A Trip by Peter’s Own Choosing           

John 21:1  After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself.

John 21:2  There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.

John 21:3  Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 

The little Sea of Galilee had much to do with the ministry of our Lord both during His life and after his resurrection.   We see several of the disciples with Peter.  It is interesting how Peter was so fervent at times, and yet at times walked at a distance.  Thomas was a doubter.   You could almost see the group as a crowd of problem children.  Perhaps the disciples were many times like the church today.   We have many strong and faithful, then some who have to be encouraged to serve and to get involved.   While we don’t specifically see the Lord condemning the men for going fishing, it does not appear that this was something that they had been directed to do.   Actually, I think we find Peter here in a bit of a backslidden position.  He says in Verse 3, “I go a fishing.”  Peter had been called out by the Lord to become “fishers of men”, but now he goes back to doing things that he wants to do.   I’m afraid if we went out to the lake this morning, we might find many that are called Christians fishing.   And they may truly be saved, like Peter, but their heart if not in doing the things that God has commanded them to do.    We know that Peter seemed to be going fishing for selfish reasons, not for God.  Perhaps this boat was owned by the father of James and John.  It might be that Peter was considering going back into the fishing business. 

Mat 4:18  And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.

Mat 4:19  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

Mat 4:20  And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.

Mat 4:21  And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them.

Mat 4:22  And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him. 

We see that he went out fishing with Thomas and Nathanael, and James and John, and they are not very effective.  They had fished all night and caught nothing.   I don’t know about you, but when I go fishing, and nothing bites the hook for 30 minutes to an hour, I tend to sort of lose my enthusiasm for the sport.    If they are biting, it is a lot of fun.  Sometimes when we are out of the Lord’s will, we can toil and toil and never accomplish a thing.  John Phillips, in his book “Exploring the Gospels”, told of how due to circumstances that he resigned from fulltime Christian work after 15 years of faithful service.   “The situation was not a happy one, so, discouraged and in a measure disillusioned, I went back into secular employment.  I worked for a large corporation owned by a very good friend of mine.  The work was interesting, my friend was supportive, I had some good friends in the corporation, and my immediate boss was  a very close friend.  And the salary was attractive, the possibilities were inviting.  I stayed there trying to convince myself that I was through forever with fulltime Christian work.  And I was thoroughly miserable.  Like Peter, “I toiled all night” so to speak and “caught nothing.” 

One of my colleagues came one night when I was preaching in a local church near where he lived.  He said, “If I could preach like that, I’d sure not waste my time working for a trucking company even if the big boss was my friend.”  The Lord allowed me to toil on at the job for a year, allowing me to become more and more dissatisfied with my decision.  Then one day a Christian friend of mine took me out for lunch.  He was a retired and successful businessman, a wise man, the elder in one of the churches where I ministered on weekends.  He was blunt about it.  “John”, he said to me, “you are wasting your time.”  I knew he was right.  Within a month I was back in fulltime Christian work.  The Lord was no more in my decision to go back to secular work than he was in Peter’s decision to start fishing again.” 

John 21:4  But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

John 21:5  Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

John 21:6  And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 

When you are away from the Lord, you become spiritually blinded.  Here, Jesus comes right to them, and they do not recognize him.  This was the third time that Jesus had come to the disciples since His Resurrection.  Perhaps the reason that Jesus addressed them as “children” was to make them truly recognize their failure.   When we try to do anything, particularly with work in the church, and fail to let God lead in it, we are destined for failure.   They had toiled the whole night through, and had no fish to show for their efforts.  Sometimes God uses a night of toiling to do us some good and to teach us a lesson.  These men actually knew how to fish, they had made their living fishing.  But this night of failure was for a reason and purpose.   Now these men at this time don’t know that it is Jesus who commanded them to throw the nets out on the right side of the ship.  I dare say if the first day someone had told them to do that, they would most likely have ignored them.   But after a whole day and night of toiling, we tend to listen a bit quicker.  See why God sometimes allows things to wear us down, it allows us to be in a position where we will listen.  When we are humble, we can best be used of the Lord.   Jesus tells them the reason for their failure was they were fishing on the wrong side of the boat.  I’m sure they had cast the net down many times, but they don’t argue a cast it one more time.  Sometimes when you don’t think you can try one more time, you are one try away from great success.  Even when we may feel beaten, we need to pick ourselves up and let the Lord help us to win the battle we are facing.  Cast the net down on the right side and ye shall find.   And the spiritual connotation to that could me made to do anything for God, we must do it the right way. 

2 Tim 2:1  Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Tim 2:2  And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

2 Tim 2:3  Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

2 Tim 2:4  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

2 Tim 2:5  And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

2 Tim 2:6  The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits.

2 Tim 2:7  Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 

The day will come when God will ask us this question about our lives.  Did we catch anything while we were fishing in our lives.   We are to reach souls for the Lord.  I hope that no one will ever have to answer, “No.. not a one.”    

Notice the results when they listened to the Lord.  There were so many fishes that they could not be drawn in.   They might not have been able to pull in the net, but notice it does not break.  That is true of the Gospel.  Our Gospel, of the life, death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord will never fail.   When God is involved, the blessings we receive sometimes overflow our capacity to understand.  You know about the promises God makes to those who give cheerfully to the church. 

Mal 3:10  Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.


2 Cor 9:7  Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

2 Cor 9:8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

2 Cor 9:9  (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his righteousness remaineth for ever.

2 Cor 9:10  Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;)

2 Cor 9:11  Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 

John 21:7  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

We see that John recognized Jesus and knew that it was the Lord.  Peter may not have had the discernment of John, (and we all must really study our bible to have true spiritual discernment), but the one thing about Peter is that he wanted to be near the Lord.  He goes on and swims to shore to be close to the Lord.  I love the whole-hearted way that Peter served God, even though he failed the Lord at times.  We should be so gung ho as to want to be right in the place where Jesus is today.  If I know my heart, I want to be in the Will of God, and serving Him in spirit and truth.  But to do that, we must obey the commandments, study the Word of God, and stay in close personal contact with our Lord. 

John 21:8  And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.

John 21:9  As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 

This is the last recorded miracle of the Lord, and the only one after His resurrection.  This should be important to us, because we serve a Risen Lord today, not the baby born in Bethlehem or the body that lay lifeless in the grave.  It is the Resurrected Christ. 

2 Cor 5:16  Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more.

2 Cor 5:17  Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

2 Cor 5:18  And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

2 Cor 5:19  To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

2 Cor 5:20  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

2 Cor 5:21  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 

John 21:10  Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

John 21:11  Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 

It is interesting that the Lord always used what people had to bring forth his miracles.  J. Vernon McGee had several good points about this and the lesson of the men being able to bring those fish in to land without breaking the net. 


“The disciples were fishing and caught nothing before Jesus came on the scene.  The Lord gives them a harvest of fish.  At Cana the water pots were empty.  The Lord has the pots filled with water and then changes the water to wine.  He asks Moses what he had in his hand.  Moses said that it was a rod, and with the rod, God performs His miracles for Israel.  David is faithful as a shepherd with his shepherd’s crook, and God gives him a sceptre to hold in his hand.  It is interesting that whatever is in your hand, God can use.  So many people wish they were somewhere else or in some other circumstances.  My friend, if God can’t use you right where you are, I don’t think He can use you somewhere else.   

Besides, have you ever noticed that what God does He does in abundance?  The water pots were full of wine.  There were baskets of food left over after the 5,000 were fed.  The nets were filled with fish.   

Also, notice that although Jesus had fish laid on a bed of coals for their breakfast on the shore of Galilee, He also asks for some of the fish which they had caught.  He accepts their service.  When they had fished at His command, He accepts what they bring.  What blessed fellowship there is in this kind of service!   

There was another time when Peter caught a miraculous number of fish, records by Luke.  It was in the early days of Jesus’ ministry, and He was calling Peter to be a fisher of men.  That time the net broke.  I think Peter was to see that many would follow Jesus, but they would not all be believers.  The net would break and many fish would swim away.  This time the net did not break, but was drawn to land, “full of great fishes.”  Peter is being called to feed the sheep and feed the lambs.  With what?  With the Word of God.  With the gospel of a risen, glorified Christ.  The gospel will not only save, but it will hold.  Even in their failures, believers are kept by the power of God though faith.  We see in this incident that Jesus Christ has a purpose for His own.  He wants to direct our lives.  If we obey, He will bless and have wonderful fellowship with us.  He is the Lord of our wills.” 

John 21:12  Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

John 21:13  Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 

We have a song that we sing in our hymnals called “Come and Dine”.  Come and dine the master calleth, come and dine, you may eat at Jesus table all the time.  We truly can, and we should look every day of our lives to God to provide the provision for that day.   The disciples started this morning out looking like they would have no food, but soon, with the Lord in the picture, they were eating a great feast on the sea shore.  All of the disciples recognized the Lord for who He was, and no one asked Him who He was.   And in similar fashion the last time they had eaten together (when they partook of the Lord’s supper in the upper room in church capacity), the Lord takes the bread and gives it to them.   Now let me be clear on this.  This was not in any way the Lord’s supper, because the elements were wrong.   I’ve heard some preachers say that if you wanted to take the Lord’s supper with coconut juice and a banana, that would be ok since it is just typifying the death of our Lord.  We were given exact instructions of what is to make up the Lord’s supper, and to do it right, we must follow those instructions.   Here, the men are enjoying a great meal with Christ.   And I’ll close with this thought.  If the Lord is in the food we are given, we should partake of it and be joyous in receiving it.   Christ gave the apostles some special instructions on eating what was given to them, and they were to be thankful for whatever is was.  A little with the Lord in it will go a long, long way. 

Luke 10:3  Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves.

Luke 10:4  Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way.

Luke 10:5  And into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house.

Luke 10:6  And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again.

Luke 10:7  And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the labourer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house.

Luke 10:8  And into whatsoever city ye enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you:

Luke 10:9  And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. 


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Prov 4:18  But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.





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