Jesus: The Restorer (21:1-25)

Bible Passage: John 21:1-25

This is the final sermon in the series on John’s gospel, and it looks at the interactions between the risen Jesus and Peter. The context is that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times on the night Jesus was arrested and tried. He let Jesus down at the most important moment. Now Jesus has appeared alive to his disciples. In this final chapter we see Peter restored back into relationship with his Lord and commissioned once more into ministry.

A Repeated Miracle – The chapter begins with Simon Peter going fishing. It seems significant that he is returning to his old, pre-Jesus life. Perhaps he thinks that because he has blown it, he now needs to find something else to do with his life so goes back to the boats. Regardless of the reason he went out, he did not catch any fish. He then heard Jesus call from the shore and suggest fishing on the other side of the boat, though they did not realise it was him straight away. When they did so, they brought in a large haul of fish, and at that moment they recognised Jesus. This is an exact replica of a miracle that we see in Luke 5, right as Jesus first called Peter and the others to follow him. By returning them to a familiar moment, it is as though Jesus is reiterating the invitation. Despite all that has happened, he still wants them to follow him, and still intends to make them fishers of men.

A Shared Meal – Once they realised it was Jesus, Simon Peter swam for shore and the others followed in the boat. They were desperate to be close to him As they arrived, they saw Jesus cooking some fish and bread on a fire on the beach and he invited them to have breakfast with him. Jesus is showing not only that the mission is back on track, but also that the friendship is. This is about spending time together in close fellowship. Jesus is gracious, and he invites us back into his presence, even when we have messed things up.

A Renewed Commission – After dinner, Jesus asks Peter on three occasions whether or not he loves him. Each time Peter tells him that he does, and he is given the instruction by Jesus to ‘feed my lambs’. The fact that he asks three times is significant, as it parallels the three denials, and is offering Peter a chance to put right his mistakes of that night. Jesus still has big plans for Peter, and Peter will be a key leader in the early church who will eventually suffer and even die because of his testimony about Jesus.

Potential Applications:

  • There will be some present who are living with particular ways they have denied Jesus. You could use this as a moment to speak grace and invite them back into close fellowship with Jesus.
  • The passage also challenges our attitude to others who have made mistakes. Jesus is always ready and willing to welcome back those who will turn back to him.