Is anything holding us back?
Let’s find out how we put the mistakes of the past behind us and get moving forward.
Let’s look at John 21:1-19 and discuss how Jesus helped his disciples move forward after his resurrection.
John 21:1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. 4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered. 6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish. 7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8 The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love [agapas] me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love [philo] you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love [agapas] me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love [philo] you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love [phileis] me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love [phileis] me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love [philo] you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
1 When Experts Fail (vs 1-5)
Jesus’ disciples failed him during his trial and crucifixion. They returned to their fishing trade and failed again. This world is run by incredibly intelligent and fabulously educated people who are failing miserably. We are no different than Jesus’ first disciples. With Jesus’ guidance, they made an enormous catch. He invited them put their fish with his bread for breakfast. This is one of life’s great lessons, that we must learn over and over. Whatever we accomplish, whatever talents we may have, it all comes from God and we need him every hour. Jesus then recommissioned Peter. He denied Jesus 3 times. Jesus reconfirmed his commission 3 times. We all fail many times and need Jesus’ reconfirmation time and again.
2 Jesus Business Consultant (vs 6)
After Jesus’ resurrection the disciples went fishing without success. A common net was a flax circle about 6 yards or meters across with small lead weights around the outside. It was thrown to open up as it hit the water. The weights dropped and the net encircled the fish. Men then jumped into the water to retrieve the net, often fishing naked. The fish were then sorted into clean and unclean and counted so that each received a fair share and to pay their taxes. Day laborers usually helped with the duties. Fishermen probably knew the local Aramaic language, Hebrew and also Greek, the language of trade. Jesus arrived and advised the experts. Would we let Jesus advise our businesses?
Reference: Elizabeth McNamer. "Cast Your Nets: Fishing at the Time of Jesus" www.AmericanCatholic.org. n.p., July 2004. Web. 14 January 2013.
3 Breakfast with Jesus (vs 8-13)
Would the resurrected Jesus bless us like he did his disciples? They had all acted like cowards, felt guilty and ashamed, and so went home. Jesus provided fish and invited them to breakfast. It was time to move on from their grief and fear. They were no different than any of us. We love Jesus, but sometimes are afraid. With three confirmations of his love Peter symbolically undid his three denials. Each time Jesus reminded him of the next step. There was a job still to be done. Like Peter we are forgiven and invited to move on to the job ahead. No need for guilt, shame and fear. The resurrected Jesus invites us to breakfast, then feed his sheep.
4 The Agapé Myth (vs 15-17)
Is agapé divine love and philia a mere human love? No. The Greek word agapé can also mean a wrong kind of love. Men loved darkness (John 3:19). They loved the praise of men more than God (John 12:43). Someone loved this world more than Paul (2 Timothy 4:10). If Peter loved Jesus then he was expected to show it through an act of brotherly love, “feed my sheep.” (John 21:1-19). There is no greater love [agapén] than to die for our brothers/friends [philon] (John 15:13). Jesus also showed that he expects his followers to show love to him in acts of brotherly love towards the needy, like foreigners, homeless, sick and prisoners (Matthew 25:31-46).
5 Gospel of Second Chances (vs 15-17)
Does God give second chances, recovery from our mistakes? Jesus reinstated Peter after he messed up. After three years of apprenticeship in Jesus’ personal training program, Peter blew it completely at the last minute. How many of us have completely ruined something in life? Perhaps it was our children that we hurt deeply in a family injustice, or a spouse because of a betrayal or a friend because of a confidence we failed to keep. Like Peter, we too have denied Jesus Christ. Forgiveness does not mean that we trust completely the one who has hurt us deeply, but it does mean that we give them a second chance if they are willing. If we want it, God is willing.
There is work to be done. Let’s take time in prayer to discuss with God our many failures in life and ask for forgiveness. Then let’s move on. There are sheep to be fed. One person cannot do it alone. We are all needed.