Peter Returns to Fishing & Is Given A Chance to Prove His Love For Jesus
After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. John 21:1-14, ESV
Here we find Peter returning to his life before Jesus. He seems to have given up on what his life was like with Jesus. He wastes no time going back to fishing. He knows what to do when it comes to fishing. His identity is in being a fisherman. This life is familiar and comfortable. He thinks he has failed at his new life, so he has returned to what he was before.
However, he was not succeeding at this either. He knew what to do to succeed and how to do it correctly, yet it wasn’t working. He failed at being devoted to Jesus and now he was failing at what he was before Jesus. After being out all night and coming up empty, he is ready to give up. Yet, here comes Jesus ready to save the day. Jesus comes up and tells them to cast their nets to the opposite side.
I mean, if I was there I would totally be rolling my eyes because we’ve been out doing this all night and all of a sudden you think we’re going to find something by casting out on the opposite side? I’d definitely be a little leery.
They’re exhausted and defeated, but they take the step of faith. They cast their nets over the opposite side and discover their nets are so full they’re at a breaking point.
What would seem impossible and completely outrageous once again showed what is possible when Jesus steps into the situation.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.” John 21:15-19, ESV
I love this part of the story because we see a very special glimpse into the relationship between Jesus and Peter. Peter may have come out of the fishing situation victorious, but he’s still aware of what he did to betray Jesus. His actions are still haunting him. Yet, we see Jesus ready to redeem him. Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Each time Peter grows more adamant that he does. Knowing Peter, with each question he is growing more frustrated. But Jesus is giving him the space to redeem each of his denials. Peter denied Jesus three times and he was able to prove his love three times.
Jesus didn’t leave Peter wallowing in his self-pity and shame. He came to him, lifted his spirits, and gave him the opportunity to prove his devotion. Jesus also gives Peter a new purpose. Not only did Jesus redeem Peter’s shame but He also gave him a new purpose in life.
The life of Simon Peter shows us that no matter how much you mess up or doubt ourselves, with the help of Jesus you can move forward into a new purpose. You don’t have to settle back into your old life. The familiar is not always the best option. Sometimes you have to fail forward – Fail, but continue to move forward into what you have been called to.