John 21:1-14 The Risen Jesus and the Disciples, Scene 3
Bible Background: 1. Matthew and Luke give us relatively brief appearances of the risen Christ, limited to that first Easter day. Mark gives us none! John gives several reports that spread out over many days. And like all of the encounters with the risen Jesus, this one is unexpected!
Digging Deeper: 1. John’s gospel seems to have come to a logical and ‘neat’ finish at the end of chapter 20. Chapter 21 is like an epilogue. Was it part of John originally? Or added on? Good question! Either way, it shows the risen Jesus serving and sending those first disciples.
2. The disciples go fishing! (It’s the first time in John’s gospel.) Do they need to be doing something familiar? Do they need food or income? Do they think they can just go back to their ‘old’ lives? The risen Jesus shows up! He gives them fishing instructions. They obey! The catch is incredible: “153 fish!” Is that a significant number? We don’t know. Does it show God’s abundance? Absolutely!
3. The risen Jesus has prepared breakfast on the beach! How neat! How odd! These disciples need both nourishment and direction. Jesus will provide both!
4. What story in John ‘rings a bell’ when we hear the mention of “bread and fish” by the lakeshore? Remember the miraculous feeding of the 5,000+? Where else did we have a ‘charcoal fire’? At the trial of Jesus at the High Priest’s house-Peter is warming himself at a charcoal fire! In what ways might John be tying these stories together?
5. There is recognition, and still some questions in the minds of those disciples. John tells us “this was the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead!” (Not counting his appearance to Mary Magdalene.) Could 3x’s be “a charm” as they say? Will the disciples finally “get it?”
6. What might we take from the fact that Jesus appears to his disciples in the most ordinary of circumstances? Or that he feeds them? Or that there is this abundant catch of fish? How are we to be ‘fishers of people’? If the fishing net symbolizes ‘the church’, how is it good news that the net can hold such a great catch and not be torn? Do we-as church today-believe God can use us to gather and hold all kinds of people?