John 21 occurs after the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is after Peter’s denial of the Lord Jesus in Chapter 18 where he denied that he knew the Lord Jesus three times. In Chapter 21, Peter is at the sea of Tiberius with Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, and two other of the Lord Jesus’s disciples. Peter announces to his friends V3 “I go a fishing” and his friends reply “We also go with thee.” But that night they caught nothing.
How many times as believers have we decided to do something which is not led by the Spirit? how many times has it brought consequences? How many times have we regretted what we have done but have to live with it? I know this has happened to me many times. But when a believer follows the leading of the Spirit he or she first gets a desire to do something,and this is followed by opportunity, then he or she will have the ability to do this thing, then they will bear good fruit, spiritually speaking.
The risen Lord Jesus had some lessons to teach Peter that night, that he must follow the leading of the Lord, and stop doing his own thing, as it were.
John 21:4 Morning had come, and the risen Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples “knew not that it was Jesus” V5 “Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.” and they were probably downtrodden because they had caught no fish. But then they follow the instruction of the Lord when he tells them V6 “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” When the Lord leads, blessing follows.
John is known as the “disciple that Jesus loved” and it is he that recognizes the risen Lord Jesus first. V7 “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord.” And then Peter who was always one to act on impulse, “…he girt his fisher’s coat unto him…and did cast himself into the sea.” V8 tells us that “they were not far from land.” Peter wanted to get to the Lord Jesus as fast as possible. V8 “..the other disciples came in a little ship;…dragging the net with fishes.”
V9 shows the Lord Jesus’ care for his own. “as soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.” Psalm 23:1 “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” V11-14 Peter drew the net to land and it was full of great fishes, not small fishes, 153. There were so many, but the net had not broken and that is a miracle. Jesus told them to come and eat, and no one dared to ask him who he was, because they knew that it was the risen Lord. Then Jesus came and took bread and fish and gave it to them. This had to be a happier occasion than the last feast of Passover supper when Jesus told them that he was going to be betrayed, and instituted the remembrance feast of bread and the fruit of the vine which believers continue to this day. This was the third time that Jesus had shown himself to his disciples after he was risen from the dead.
After this, V15-22 the Lord takes Peter aside, and we must remember that before the Lord Jesus was crucified, on the night that he was arrested and tried, Peter denied that he was one of Jesus’ followers three times, just as Jesus knew he would. Luke 22:31 “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Jesus asks Peter “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” and Peter responds “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee.” and Jesus said “Feed my lambs” Jesus asks Peter this question two more times, and each time Peter answers “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee”. but these times Jesus responds “Feed my sheep” Peter was grieved the third time that Jesus asked the question, remembering his three denials.
And then Jesus tells Peter what will become of him, that when he was young, he walked wherever he wanted to do, but that when he became old, he would be taken and carried where he would not want to go. Tradition says that Peter was also crucified.
After this Jesus says V19 “follow me” just as he did at the beginning of his ministry “follow me and I will make you fishers of men” Matthew 5:19.
But Jesus had another lesson to teach Peter. V20-21 “Peter, turning about,seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved (John) following; which also leaned on his breast at (the last Passover) supper…Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?” Peter should not have been concerned with what was going to happen to John, he needed only to be concerned with following the Lord Jesus, however and wherever he was led.
Jesus’ answer to Peter would have pricked his heart V22 “Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”
In the book of Acts, Chapter 2, the Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples that were gathered together in one place. Peter then became very bold and preached to them what was prophesied by the prophet Joel, and all things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.. then he follows with V38 “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” And Peter never stopped being a witness for the Lord Jesus.
What a lesson for all believers. Do not “go a fishing” like Peter did. Do not decide every day that you will do this or that. Every morning commit your day unto the Lord and follow the leading of the Spirit. It will always lead to blessing, both for others, and for yourself, knowing that you were obedient..