Gone Fishing | John 21

Welcome to Real Life. Sometimes the hardest one to forgive is ourselves.
“Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4-5, emphasis mine).
Wait. That’s all he told us to do, simple instructions. And, I’m about to mess that up too.

I used to be a leader among the apostles. I promised Jesus I’d follow him anywhere, even die for him.[1] But, when he needed me most—when everyone else deserted him—I denied I even knew him. Will he trust me to lead again after that?

Well, I’m not the kind of guy to sit around and wait to find out. I need to do something. I once made a decent living as a fisherman. I can do that again.

“I’m going fishing,” I told the other disciples.

“We’ll go, too.”

Seven of them joined me. I was a bit surprised, but glad for their company on the road home to Galilee. We set out in my boat, fished all night, and caught nothing. Man, I can’t even make it as a fisherman.

Dawn was breaking. Our stomachs were grumbling as loud as our lips when we finally gave up and headed in towards shore. As we neared the beach, we saw a man standing there. He called out, “Friends, haven’t you any fish? Throw your net on the right side and you’ll find some.”

Seriously? We cast the net all night and caught nothing. But, what did we have to lose? We gave it one more try.

Almost immediately, I felt the tug. The net filled with fish. In fact, it was so full we couldn't haul it back into the boat. John turned to me and said, “It’s the Lord.”

The Lord? I squinted, trying to get a better view of the man on shore. Who else could it be? It is the Lord! I pulled on my tunic, dove in, and swam to him.

As I walked up dripping wet, Jesus was standing by a coal fire cooking fish…just as if the cross never happened. “Come on over, Peter. Dry out by the fire,” he said with a smile. Oh, did that fish smell good. 

However, standing near those coals reminded me of the last time I warmed myself by a coal fire—in the courtyard of the high priest, the night I betrayed Jesus. I wanted to tell him how sorry I was. But, I just stood there.

Our friends soon followed in the boat. Jesus said, “Bring some of that nice catch.” We feasted and talked and laughed—just like the old days of ministry together. It felt so right to be with Jesus again.

After breakfast, he said, “Come walk with me, Peter.”

My heart sunk. Here it comes. I expected a lecture, or worse. Heck, I deserved it. Instead, he asked a question.

“Simon Peter, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

A lecture I could take. This talk of love cut me to the heart. Would love deny his Lord, his best friend?

“Yes, Lord, You know that I love you.” I failed you once. I won’t promise undying devotion again. But, I do love you.

“Feed my lambs.” The ministry is young. After I’m gone, these new disciples will need someone to guide and nourish them with spiritual truth. Will you do it? Will you lead them, Peter?

Really? Even after my epic fail, you want me to lead? I was speechless.

Again Jesus asked, “Do you truly love me?”

I hesitated. If I truly loved him, would I be out here fishing when he told me to wait? And, would I have dragged the other disciples along with me?

“Yes, Lord. You know I love you (the best I can).”

“Take care of my sheep.” Peter, I gave you a natural gift of leadership. Will you lead others to me—or away from me?

Then, he asked a third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Ouch! This third time hurt. “Lord, you know all things.” You know I’m flawed. I can be a jerk at times. I can’t love you perfectly. But, I want to. Help me. Teach me. “You know I love you.”

“Feed my sheep.”


Peter and the other apostles returned to Jerusalem and waited. On the feast of Pentecost, they were filled with the Holy Spirit.[2] Peter addressed the multitude who had gathered for the feast, “This Jesus, whom you crucified, is both Lord and Christ.”[3] Three thousand believed and were baptized. Peter went on to lead the early church. Failure did not disqualify him for ministry.

God is love. His love is merciful, forgiving, and full of grace. Love never fails.[4]

Take it further…
Hello, My Name Is” by Matthew West

[1] John 13:37 “I will lay down my life for you.”
[2] Acts 2:4
[3] Acts 2:36
[4] 1 Corinthians 13:8

IMAGE FROM:  http://freebibleimages.org/photos/jesus-appears-galilee/


  1. Such a powerful passage, and you bring out the importance and back story so well here. And I like looking at the other side of it, too. We understand the part where Jesus restores us and reaffirms us. But, I also want to be like Him and be a restorer of those who have failed me.

    1. Hi, Sean. Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. You make an excellent point. I agree. I want to be like Jesus, also. Full of love and grace, even to those who have failed me -- for I've often failed others.

  2. Hi,
    This post is so encouraging. I can so understand Peter. Sometimes I have to remind myself to be a gentle friend to myself. Thank you for pointing out God's love, and our God forgives. I needed to hear this.

    1. Hi, Patricia. I like your description of being a "gentle friend to myself." Yes, I need to do that as well.

      Thanks so much for being a gentle and encouraging friend to so many of us. You're a blessing!


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