Reflection on the Gospel of John 21:1-19 Third Sunday of Easter May 1, 2022

The Gospel of John 21:1-19

Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Let us Pray: Living God, we are so slow to recognize your presence, even when you stand among us, even in your living Word. Still, stay with us, we pray; make yourself known to us, and let our hearts burn within us to share the good news that Jesus Christ our Savior is risen indeed. Amen

When you are lost and need a place or activity to retreat to, what do you do? We do something that we can get immediate satisfaction from. We all need at least two things to live happy productive lives, we need a sense of belonging, and we need a sense of purpose Apparently, Peter and some of the disciples decided they needed to go fishing. An activity very familiar and it gave them for a short time a sense of productivity. The disciple’s world had just been turned upside down, they felt lost, confused, and abandoned. But even fishing didn’t meet their needs as they fished, and the nets came up empty after several hours. Their frustration building more. Then a unknown man on the shore asked how many fish have you caught? (Sound familiar) Again the stranger said put the net on the other side of the boat. With nothing to lose as they hadn’t caught anything at that point, they did as was suggested. (You wonder if under his breath Peter didn’t say, Who, does he think he is Jesus?) Quickly, the net filled with fish, almost breaking the nets. Peter recognized at that point the stranger on the shore was Jesus. He quickly jumped into the water and went ashore. There Jesus had a fire ready to cook some of the fish He knew they would catch. We see Jesus here acting as one who serves.

Now for Peter comes a uncomfortable part of this Gospel, when after breakfast, Jesus and Peter go for a walk down the beach. They have a short, but repetitive conversation. Three times, Jesus asks, “Simon, do you love me?” and three times, Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Each time, Jesus responds with a command to care for his sheep. “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, feed my sheep,” Jesus says. The question is what the significance of Jesus asking Peter three times if he loved Him. If we remember that Peter denied Jesus three times. This seems that Jesus is looking for a commitment from Peter before Jesus responds with a command for him to care for my sheep. Jesus has portrayed himself as the Good Shepherd. Now he entrusts the care of his flock to Peter. It isn’t that sheep have replaced fish in importance, but shepherding has been added to fishing. Jesus ends the conversation the same way he began his relationship with Simon and the other fishermen back at the start of his ministry. “Follow me,” he says. “Follow me,” Jesus calls to us now. “Follow me,” whether we are fishing or herding his sheep. “Follow me,” when he calls us to change the way we’ve always done things, so that he can bless us with abundance. “Follow me,” as he prepares a feast for us that combines what he provides with what we offer of ourselves. “Follow me” into such a close friendship, such a deep love, that all can be forgiven, and all can be made whole.

Jesus calls. Will you follow?

Let Us Pray: Lord, you have called us to be fishers of people and shepherds of your flock. Teach us to follow, to love and to serve; to feed those who hunger and cast out our nets to welcome the world into your eternal realm. through Jesus Christ, Our Savior and Our Lord. Amen

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