Bible Studies

More on the Apostle Peter

John 21:1-19

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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

14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.

19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

This experience of Peter should be a source of encouragement to every believer who feels inadequate and has had defeats, weaknesses, and sin. It should strengthen others who have come to the place of utter hopelessness and are throwing up their hands in an indication of, "What's the use?"

In times like this the future can hold for us what it did for Peter.

Notice three things that led to this experience;

1. Delusion. The cross had shattered the dreams of earthly glory which had filled the minds of the disciples up to the very last.

They had dreamed of ruling in an earthly kingdom with Jesus.. A mother wanted her sons to set on the right and left hands of the Lord in His kingdom.

Matt 20:20-21 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.

A number of believers have set out in the Christian life thinking that it would be comfortable, pleasant, and acceptable sort of thing.

However down the path the Lord has put the cross into the path and they have discovered the way of Christ means loneliness and reproach. The "offense of the cross" becomes real. Many are unaware of, or burned by the challenge of the Cross. The Lord is concerned about how we will react when things have not worked out as we thought they should.

2. Defeat. Why did this defeat fall upon Peter, who boasted of such a good start?

Matt 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended (forsake, or deny) because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

Why did the laugh and question of a servant girl turn him into cursing and a rage of denial of ever knowing the Lord?

Mark 14:69-71 And a maid saw him again, and began to say to them that stood by, This is one of them. And he denied it again. And a little after, they that stood by said again to Peter, Surely thou art one of them: for thou art a Galilaean, and thy speech agreeth thereto. But he began to curse and to swear, saying, I know not this man of whom ye speak.

Many sermons have been preached on, "he followed afar off," but none on the rest of the disciples who forsook Him did not follow at all.

There are many church folks who do not bear any of the scars that Peter bore. At the first sign of conflict, at the first sign of battle, they always forsake the Lord and escape. From the comfort and safety of their hiding place, they have done as many have done. They sharply criticize Peter, shaking their heads sadly over his defeat and cowardice. They critically judge Peter when their own conduct mirrors that of his.

In the look that Christ gave Peter at the fireside there was full understanding, forgiveness, and compassion. It had the tenderness of divine love, a love that knew that he had followed afar off, yes, but he had followed. As a father has pity on his children, so the Lord has pity on them that love Him.

Ps 103:13-14 Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.

3. Despair. Peter went out and wept bitterly. This should settle the question of emotion in religious encounterings. Peter must have thought that the night of despair would never end.

Peter found a new Humility.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

Jesus is asking Peter if he loves Him more than the fishing boat and fishing gear, and the occupation he was beginning to return to. Peter and the others are confused. They don't know what Christ will do. I believe they decide to return to their old way of life as fishermen.

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.

This is the ONLY recorded incident of Peter fishing in a boat with nets since he left all to follow Jesus. They are fishing with nets to catch fish to eat and to sell as a livelihood.

This part of the gospel of John is sometimes called 'The Restoration of Peter, ' but this is not so. Peter had already been restored. His sin of denial had already been forgiven.

Luke 24:34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

Jesus may have been restoring the prominence of Peter before the others here.

Listen to the reply from Peter who had just a few days before disputed the words of Christ.
Matt 26:31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

Matt 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended (forsake, or deny) because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

Now hear His reply,
John 21:16-17 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Peter KNOWS that Jesus KNOWS ALL THINGS now.

Peter's defeat was in public. His witness had been discredited. His experience was humiliating.

Peter found a new Loyalty.
When Christ asked him "Lovest thou Me more than these?" [fishing gear]. Again Peter gives a positive answer. His love for the Lord would now prevent him from going back to the old life.

Peter found a New Intimacy
Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times. Christ wanted his love.

John 14:21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Peter found a New Responsibility.
"Feed my sheep." Peter would not be considered for a church pulpit; he would never be prominent in a conference program.

The first church conference was held in Jerusalem, and even though Peter was there and had a say, the agenda was determined by James the brother of Jesus.

Acts 15:19-20 Wherefore my sentence is, (James speaking) that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.

Then it pleased the apostles and elders with the whole church to do just that. (Acts 15:22-25)

BUT--when the greatest sermon since Christ, was to be delivered, Peter was chosen of the Lord to do it. (Acts 2:14-41)

Peter found a New Road.
John 21:18-19 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

The Cross had its shadow across the path of Peter and he was to walk in it the rest of his life.