Bible Study 4.9.12, 4.12.12, 4.15.12, For Worship 4.22.12

Bible Study 4.9.12, 4.12.12, 4.15.12 For Worship 4.22.12

John 21:1-22 

John 21:1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he revealed himself in this way.

2 Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together.

3 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.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

5 Jesus said to them, “Children, have you any fish?” They answered him, “No.”

6 He said to them, “Cast the net on 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, for the quantity of fish.

7 That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his clothes, for he was stripped for work, and sprang into the sea.

8 But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”

11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.

13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.

14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

15 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.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”

16 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.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”

17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved 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.

18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go.”

19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned and saw following them the disciple whom Jesus loved, who had lain close to his breast at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?”

21 When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?”

22 Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!”


This post-resurrection appearance is unique to the Gospel of John. Let’s review the post resurrection experiences of Jesus in the Gospels. In Mark, the women go to the empty tomb. The angel tells them to go tell the disciples that Jesus has risen and is going before them to Galilee. The women reportedly leave the tomb in terror and tell no one. Of course that begs the question of how the news ever got out.

Matthew records the women visiting the tomb and finding it empty and an angel telling them that Jesus has gone on before them to Galilee. Matthew also includes material about the Roman guards who are scared of the angel and then go report to the Temple authorities. As the women are on their way back to the City, they meet the Risen Christ, who tells them to tell the disciples to meet him in Galilee. Then Matthew provides us with the story of the Risen Christ encountering the disciples on a Mountain Top, presumably the Mount of Transfiguration, where he tells them to go into all the world making disciples.

Luke records the women going to the tomb in the morning, but then the Risen Christ shows up in the upper Room in the evening, where he sits down and asks for a piece of broiled fish to eat, thus proving he isn’t a ghost. This raises several issues about the nature of the Risen Christ. Is he a spirit, a resuscitated corpse (zombie Jesus)? Luke also has the delightful story of the two disciples and the stranger on the road to Emmaus. This story would seem to contradict the resuscitated corpse Jesus. He walks with them and talks with them, but is only revealed to them, when he breaks the bread. Some commentators have commented that the Road to Emmaus story is probably a reflection of the early church’s belief that Jesus was still present among them in the “breaking of the bread.”

Luke’s narrative of the Risen Christ does not end at the close of his gospel, instead his last post-resurrection story is in the first chapter of his sequel, The Acts of the Apostles. The disciples go out to the Mount of Olives, where the Risen Christ bids them good-bye. It is important to note that in Luke there are no appearances in Galilee.

Perhaps as befits the last canonical gospel written, John includes some elements from all the other gospels with its own peculiar twist. The first person to arrive at the tomb was Mary Magdalene. When she found the tomb empty, she assumed the body had been stolen, and in horror returned to the disciples in the Upper Room to report the theft. Peter and the beloved disciple return to the tomb with her to investigate. They also found the tomb empty, and in some consternation returned to the City. Weeping Mary remained at the tomb, and the Risen Christ appeared to her. Mary did not recognize him, thinking him to be the gardener. Then the risen Christ called her by name, and that triggered her recognition of him similar to the “breaking of the bread” triggering recognition for the two disciples on the Road to Emmaus.

Jesus told Mary not to “cling” to her, because he had not yet ascended to his father. Now there is a mystery. Mary returned to the disciples and share the news she had seen the Risen Christ, and the disciples did not believe her. But there that night like in Luke the Risen Christ appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room, and he breathes on them the “holy spirit,” a form of Pentecost in the Johannine tradition. Thomas was not present at the first appearance of the Risen Christ in the Upper Room, and refuses to believe the other disciples, when they tell him. So a week later the Risen Christ showed up again. This time Thomas became a believer. The Risen Christ then spoke to us through those first disciples, when he said, “you have believed because you have seen me, but blessed will be those who have not seen me in the future, but yet they will believe.

This brings us to our scripture today. The disciples did not stay in Jerusalem, but according to this tradition they journeyed North to Galilee. One evening Peter proposed going fishing. But they didn’t catch a thing, until a stranger on the shore tells them to cast their net on the other side of the boat, and they net a miraculous catch of fish. We should note this story parallels the miraculous catch of fish story in Luke chapter 5 at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Like the “breaking of the bread,” and Mary hearing her name called, “the miraculous catch of fish” becomes the trigger of recognition for Peter. He recognizes the stranger on the beach to be the Risen Christ. When the disciples make their way ashore, the stranger has prepared breakfast for them. And then there is a very curious phrase: “Now none of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord.”

John claims this was the third time the Risen Christ appeared to the disciples. We can’t be sure exactly how John is counting. There were two times in Jerusalem, not counting the appearance to Mary (women don’t count), and then this appearance in Galilee. John uses this appearance to rehabilitate Peter after his denials of Jesus the night of Jesus’ arrest. Three times the Risen Christ asks Peter, if he loves him. Three times Peter says, “yes,” and then “feed my sheep.” And then one of the most interesting stories of jealousy in the gospels. Peter saw the “beloved disciple” following them, and he complained, “what about him?” He is almost asking, “Why is he the beloved disciple?” And Jesus answered with straight forward candor, “what’s it to you? You follow me.” So often in congregations there are jealousies. We don’t like everyone equally. Some people we just get along with better than others. This was true even among the disciples. Sometimes we are tempted to wonder why God isn’t as kind to us as God seems to be toward others. Why can’t we win the lottery? Like Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof we are tempted to ask, would it spoil some vast eternal plan, if I were a wealthy man?

I think God responds to us similarly to the way Jesus addressed Peter. If my relationship with someone else is different from my relationship to you, “what’s it to you?” Don’t worry about other people, just follow me in the way I have called you to follow me.


1. Where did the disciples choose to go fishing?

2. Who first proposed the idea of going fishing?

3. Who all went in the boat?

4. What time of day did they go fishing?

5. When a stranger appeared on the beach, what did he tell them to do?

6. What happened next?

7. When the disciples came ashore, what did they find?

8. Who did the stranger single out for special attention?

9. What did the stranger ask?

10. Who was following the pair on the beach?

11. What does the stranger finally tell Peter?


1. Have you ever tried to recover from a trauma by going back to some simple activity from your past?

2. Based on this story, who do you think was the “beloved disciple?”

3. Do you think fishing is a symbol for anything in this story?

4. How do you interpret the sentences: “Now none of the disciples dared ask him, ‘who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord.”

5. If Jesus asked you, “do you love me more than these?” What do you think Jesus would mean?

6. If Jesus said to you, “feed my sheep.” What do you think Jesus would mean?

7. Have you ever observed examples of jealousy in the life of the church?

8. What do you think Jesus meant when he said, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Come follow me.”

9. If Jesus said to you, “Come follow me.” What do you think he would mean?


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