Lesson 126: Jesus' First Appearance in Galilee
John 20:30-31, 21:1-25
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. This is lesson # 126. Welcome! John admits his book is NOT an unabridged account of Jesus’s life. In John 20:30-31, -we've read before. John said, "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book, but these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." That's the end of ch. 20, John's reason for writing this book. Jesus told Thomas "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." (John 20:29). Someone has said there'll be no atheist at the Judgment; because, then they will be believers. God requires faith. But, that faith must be NOW and that faith must shape our life. That's what Jesus requires. So, flip the page to John ch. 21 and get ready to read. We have a record that Jesus appeared, after His resurrection from the dead, at least twice in Galilee. Once was on a mountain in Galilee and once was by the sea of Galilee. John's 21st chapter covers the occasion by the sea side, which came first. So, if you'll put your eyes on John 21:1, we'll read that account, the entire chapter. John 21:1-25. Are you ready? "After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.. They cast therefore, and no-; they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. And the other disciples came in a little ship, (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to the land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask Him, who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. So when they had dined. Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second, time, Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou I:nowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jona, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou was young, thou girdest thyself, and walkest whither thou wouldst: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldst not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciples whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till Icome, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die; yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."
This has always been one of my favorite passages of scripture. It is so picturesque and makes a beautiful human interest story. It gives a lot of personality insight and carries a most important message from Jesus. Obviously, the apostles and other disciples had gone back to Galilee to meet with Jesus according to the instruction of the angel at the tomb and according to Jesus' instruction sent to the apostles by Mary Magdalene and as you remember Jesus before his death on the cross had instructed the apostles only shortly before to meet him in Galilee. The apostles and disciples that followed Jesus had apparently been in Judea for several months, about six or eight months, i.e. since the time of the feast of tabernacles in the fall of AD 32. In John's 7th chapter, we read about Jesus going to Jerusalem. Later in the fall, Jesus did a tour of Judea and the surrounding area. He first sent out the seventy disciples, Luke ch. 10, and later went to each village where he sent disciples on ahead. He had to leave the Jerusalem area because of the threats on his life from the Jewish rulers, John the 11th chapter. He spent some time east of the Jordan, but finally came back to Jerusalem by way of Jericho about a week or 10 days before the passovsr. If any of the apostles and disciples had gone back to Galilee during that period, we have no record. But, then Jesus had appointed a place to meet with them in Galilee after his resurrection from the dead. NOW, the occasion we have read about in John ch. 21, is not the official meeting that they had been summoned to attend in Galilee. This was a kind of side trip, and unexpected appearance of Jesus. It seems so natural to me that Peter, James and John going back to their old stomping ground, so-to-speak, would want to go fishing. Seems that people who enjoy fishing, even today, just never seem to get enough. These men, being fishermen by trade or occupation, must have MISSED being out on the waters of the sea of Galilee for the last several months. So, as soon as they got back into Galilee, and saw that big lake, Peter said (v.3), "I go a fishing." Several other disciples thought that was a good idea, it would make a good leisure and recreational event; so, they said, "we also go with thee." Isn't that a typical outing for a group of buddy-buddy friends? Besides Peter, there were James and John, Thomas and Nathanael went along. You remember Thomas the doubter from our last chapter. We met Nathanael of Cana in Galilee back in John 1:45. Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus. He was the one that asked "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" Nathanael is usually thought to be the same as the apostle Bartholomew in the lists of apostles. And John said a couple more disciples went along that John doesn't identify. They drug those nets around and lugged them in and lugged them out of the boats all night long and didn't catch a thing, a very typical fishing trip. As daylight finally came, they must have kept testing the waters every little bit. it was common place for fishermen to sell their fish in the morning as people arose; they would "holler" out to the fishermen from along the shore and purchase fresh fish for breakfast. So, it probably seemed very natural to them, only about three hundred feet from the shore, about the length of a football field, for some native along the shore to inquire about buying fish. "Children, have ye any meat?" (v.5). And the answer goes back, "NO!" no fish. Then an unusual comment from the one on the shore, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find." I suppose they thought, well, the right side is as good as any. Why not? They may have assumed the person on the shore had some visual advantage that they didn't have in the ship. Suddenly, the net was full of fish, 153 fish it turned out. Does this remind you of Luke 5:6-7, when Jesus told Peter to "Launch out into the deep?" On that occasion, when Peter realized the impact of what had happened, Peter fell at Jesus' feet and said: "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, 0 Lord!" It must have brought that occasion to John's mind and he reminded Peter. So, old impulsive Peter didn't waste a moment, off he went swimming toward shore. Sure enough when Peter came wadding out of the water, dripping wet, and breathing heavy form the swim; there was Jesus. What a pleasant and delightful occasion it must have been for these tired fishermen to sit down there on the shore and enjoy a meal of fish and bread as only tired men can do. Their recreational venture had brought an unexpected dividend. John said, there was no question in their mind when they saw Jesus. It was Jesus! No one even THOUGHT of asking him for identification. John points out in v.13, this is the third time Jesus had met with his disciples. The other two occasions being the two Sunday nights mentioned back in John's 20th chapter, obviously. So, this occasion was BEFORE the official meeting that Jesus had called for all disciples to go into Galilee. But, the official meeting that had been called was the reason for them being in Galilee.
Then, as they sat there on the sea shore around the fire and began to fill their tummy with fish and bread; as the sun began to glisten on a beautiful calm lake that morning; of course, every eye was focused on Jesus and their hearts were elated to see the Lord again. And as usual, Peter was in the foreground of the conversation. John gives us a little remote glance at that conversation. In the midst of their palaver, Jesus looked Peter in the eye and said, Peter do you love me? That question must have brought thoughts through the heads of every disciple THERE about Peter's denial of Jesus three times on that pitiful night Jesus was captured in the garden, abused and mistreated the rest of the night. But, Peter had repented with bitter tears. Peter said, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee." The Lord must have smiled as he said, Peter feed my lambs. Old shepherd talk! The chief shepherd speaking to his under-shepherd, "Feed my lambs." What did that mean? Jesus had told Peter that night on the way to the garden of Gethsemane, "when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." (Luke 22:32). It gives us an insight to the tender way that Jesus looks upon his little one; i.e. not children but; weak and new Christians trying to obey and trying to grow in the nurture and admonition of Christ's word. For those that love Jesus, they become the servants of Jesus and they help with the chores of nurturing more Christians. I am amazed today how many professed Christians don't even attend the worship services. If you talk with them, they say: well, I just don't get that much out of it! That undoubtedly reveals the most self-centered and the most selfish attitude that could ever exist. We are NOT told to serve Jesus to educate ourselves, to amuse and entertain our selves, to stroke our own ego. These things happen to us, yes, in an indirect way. But, that's NOT the primary assignment of Christians. That's a by-product. Jesus said, "Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciple." (John 15:8). Feed his lambs and bear fruit. That's what glorifies the heavenly Father. Did you notice Jesus said, "more than these?" We are commanded to love our fellow man; but we must love Jesus more. Then, as every eye was focused on Peter, Jesus repeated his question. Simon, do you love me? Peter said, "Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee." Lord you know every thing and you know that I love you. This time Jesus changed his response slightly, "Feed my sheep." Jesus switched from "lambs" to "sheep." You see, if there is going to be a good lamb crop, the older sheep must be fed and supplied with good food and water also. Jesus had said in the sermon on the mount, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." (Matt. 5:6). When you find someone that loves Jesus and loves his word "more than these" (v.15); they just can't get enough. They are always at the feed trough, asking for more. People that love Jesus don't say, "I just don't get that much out of it!" We learn by repetition! Why did Jesus repeat this question to Peter, three times? Jesus repeated that question to Peter a third time. Except this time, Jesus changed his question a little more. It's unfortunate; but, this doesn't come through in the KJV. The first two times Jesus used the Greek word for love, "A-G-A-P-E", to seek the highest welfare of another, commanded love, we talked about this before. But, the third time Jesus used another word, "P-H-I-L-E-O", which means to be a friend to, and to have a feeling of affection for, i.e. buddy-buddy "love", I called it before. Love is like faith, it grows. We are commanded to love, "Agape", seek the highest interest of others; but, in trying to obey that command, you'll naturally develop a feeling of affection toward Jesus. So, Jesus closed in on Peter just a little, the third time. John said Peter was grieved, i.e. Peter thought, Lord I've told you twice, "Yes I love you!." "Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee." Jesus answered, "Feed my sheep."
Then in v.18-19, Jesus gave Peter a little insight prophecy into his own life. It was like saying, Peter, you've got some rough days ahead in your life. But, Jesus closed the thought by saying, "Follow me." Knowing Peter's disposition, he must have avowed to never fail the Lord from that moment. And then, John brought his book to a gentle close; by telling what Jesus said about John. Peter knew that Jesus had shown great affection for John, the youngest of the apostles; Peter asked: "Lord, and what shall this man do?" no doubt pointing to John. Jesus told Peter, in essence, Peter it’s none of your business, i.e. sweep around your own back door, Peter. And then Jesus repeated, "follow thou me." In other words, Peter it makes no difference about John or any other, your responsibility is to see that Peter follows the Christ. Jesus said, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (v.22). John said that Jesus' words were mis-reported. Some said Jesus told John that he would never die. But, John clarifies, Jesus didn't say that. Jesus said, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" Then in bringing his book to a conclusion; John said that Jesus said, and did, much, much more. The book would be bigger than the world, if it could all be written. Can you imagine John holding a great big old scroll when he laid down his pen? many years after Jesus went back to heaven? Until our next study, have a good day!