A word for the heart

with Alan Bailey

John 21:1-25 - The Gospel of John

Bible study


Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.

John 21:1-25

We now come to the last chapter of John. It is like an addition to the record of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Some have called it an epilogue. The most touching thing about it is the restoration of Peter after his regretful denial of the Lord just before the crucifixion.

Jesus shows His grace and forgiveness and Peter senses being re-instated and commissioned as the leader of the group. See how it unfolds.

Verses 1-3 Afterward Jesus appeared again to His disciples by the sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘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.

Things must have been a bit quiet for this group of disciples. Jesus had told them earlier to go to Galilee (Matthew 28:10). They were now there without any special thing to do so the call of their usual occupation was strong. Back to fishing. A night’s trying produced nothing – not so unusual for fishermen.

Verses 4-6 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you caught any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered. 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.

In the early morning light the disciples could not recognize Jesus standing on the shore. But they recognized a voice of authority and promptly obeyed what He said. When they felt the net full of fish they quickly understood that it was Jesus who had spoken. It was not the first time He had guided them to a haul of fish. What excitement they must have felt!

Verses 7-9 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. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

The Lord Jesus has personal care and concern for each individual in this group and He shows it by this whole event. He is present just at the right time. He gives them a huge fishing bonus. He even has food ready for them on the beach. We should learn from this that the Lord sees and knows us all and is interested in even the detail of our lives.

Verses 10 & 11 Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.

Peter so often is the one to move quickly, sometimes impulsively. We can only imagine that he was a big man and very strong. Pulling that net would take great strength, especially seeing they were large fish. John, being a fisherman, notes that the net didn’t break as it might well have.

Verses 12-14 Jesus said to them, ‘Come and have breakfast.’ None of the disciples dared ask Him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus appeared to His disciples after he was raised from the dead.

We see here that the Lord was the host and He waited on these men giving them breakfast. This was the third time He had been with them after He had risen, but there had been other appearances to other people as well. We saw that in the last chapter. (The women for instance.)

Verses 15 & 16 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ he said, ‘you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my lambs.’ Again Jesus said, ‘Simon son of John, do you truly love me?’ He answered, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Take care of my sheep.’

The purpose of Jesus coming to Galilee is now being seen. He wants to talk to the man who had promised that he would never deny him but actually did. Peter had said that though everyone else disowned Jesus, he never would. This was claiming that he had stronger devotion than any of the others. Now Jesus asks if he really does have this strong love and devotion. Peter’s response is what we would expect. His sincerity is to be further tested. The second time he answers in a similar way.

When Jesus told Peter to "feed My Sheep", Peter was to take that responsibility seriously. Like the caring duties of the shepherds of olden times, Peter was being instructed to care for the new Believers

Verse 17 The third time He said to him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, Do you love me?’ He said, ‘Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Feed my sheep.’

There were three denials and now three opportunities to put it right. No doubt Peter felt very emotional at this time, especially because all this was said in front of the other disciples. But it was a mercy. Peter was able now to put his failure behind him and do what Jesus was commissioning him to do, that is, to spiritually feed the believers, young and old.

Verses 18 & 19 ‘I tell you the truth, 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.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then He said to him, ‘Follow me!’

The calling of the Lord is serious business and Peter is hearing about it very clearly. It will not be easy to do what is before him. There will be opposition and a martyr’s death.

Verses 20-22 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. When Peter saw him he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’

This is a more private conversation now. Almost to shift the focus Peter asks the question about John. Jesus answers rather bluntly, helping Peter to shape up to his own responsibilities

Verses 23-25 Because of this, the rumour spread among the brothers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; He only said, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?’ This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.


We have reached the end of the Gospel of John. The reason he wrote it is given at the end of [biblref John 20:30-31]chapter 20], ‘that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.’

Who else could He be? How can we turn away from Him to anyone else? Simple trust in Him as Lord and Saviour makes certain of our life here and hereafter being blessed incalculably. How can we refuse His love for us? Be sure. Call on Him. Say ‘Yes’ and then follow Him and live each day for Him. God bless you.

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