by Richard Mansel, managing editor
While they were getting the fish onto shore, Jesus prepared a meal for them. Peter joined the men in getting the fish onshore so they could be counted and divided. Once again, John’s eyewitness details add texture to the narrative.
We compare this passage to an earlier one found in Luke 5:1-11. There, Jesus directed them to cast their nets and they drew up a bountiful catch of fish that was breaking their nets. In John 21, they pulled in 153 fish and the nets did not break.
Jesus trained these men to become something better than they could ever be on their own. In Luke 5, the nets were breaking and here, they do not. Jesus has a new mission for them. Now, he had been crucified and was about to leave them to return home (Acts 1:9-11).
The apostles would have to go into a hostile world alone. Jesus assured them that they would have the Holy Spirit and his full support from heaven (John 14-17). They could go out and do amazing work because he would never leave them (Hebrews 13:5).
No matter how many people they brought to the Lord, the net would not break. The kingdom was for all (2 Peter 3:9) and since he had overcome death, they could be fearless (1 Peter 5:6-11). Peter needed this message and he certainly took it to heart.
The triple denial of Peter is here answered by the triple query of Jesus. The Savior has a purpose for Peter and has to restore him in his own sight and in the eyes of the others.
Jesus calls Peter, Simon, a name given to him by Jesus in Matthew 16:18. By calling him Simon, Jesus has taken Peter back to a time before he even knew Jesus (John 1:40-42). This had to cut Peter deeply.
Jesus asks, “…do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15, NKJV). No matter how many commentators speculate otherwise, we simply do not know to whom “these” refers. We just know that Peter’s heart and emotions are being laid bare.
Peter replies to the first question, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You” (John 21:15).
Peter pleads with the Lord to give him a reprieve on the scouring of his soul. He is being knocked down from his plateau, so humility can take hold of him. In addition to the triple query, Jesus is probing deep into Peter’s heart to re-ignite his fire.
“Jesus said to him, ‘feed my lambs,’ and ‘feed my sheep,’ thus both classes, the old and the young, the mature and the immature.”/1
Jesus needed Peter to return to his place, with a sober mind, renewed purpose, framed with confidence and humility.
Finally, Jesus prophesies the final sacrifice of Peter as a martyr for the faith. It appears that Peter and Jesus had been walking together apparently followed from a distance by John. It is difficult to grasp where everyone is from the information we are given.
After Peter is told about his coming martyrdom, he wonders about his good friend, John. He asks literally, “Lord, and this man, what?”/2
Jesus’ reply was:
“If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? Follow thou me” (John 21:22).
Peter needed to be concerned about himself rather than John.
“Other people’s affairs are nothing to us to intermeddle in; we must quietly work, and mind our own business.”/3
Peter, great warrior for the faith, is restored and commissioned for service. Will we be able to overcome our failures and walk again in the light?
1/ Guy N. Woods, “A Commentary on the Gospel According to John” (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1984), 442-443.
2/ B.F. Westcott, Westcott, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973), 305.
3/ Matthew Henry, http://tinyurl.com/cwvaf9w