Day 21: John 21

Jesus restores completely

2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
John 21:2-9 (NLT)

As we come to the close of the book of John, Jesus has been crucified; buried in the tomb; risen victorious over death, hell, and the grave; appeared to His disciples; and the final act that we see in this account is Christ coming to Peter and bringing restoration.

It was just three chapters earlier that we witnessed Peter denying Christ not once but three times when confronted by a young girl. Even though Jesus himself told Peter he would betray Him, Peter didn’t believe that he would ever do something like that. And now we see Peter and some of the other disciples after the resurrection.

In my mind, I see them sitting around the house, hanging out at the table in the kitchen, lounging on the couches, not really sure of what is going to happen in the coming days, because everything they thought they knew seemed to be taken from them. I see Peter, slouching on a La-Z boy, understandably distressed and depressed for having denied his Lord, and in verse 3 he makes the proclamation: “I’m going fishing.”

Peter goes back to what he knows, to what he’s comfortable with, to what he was doing before he met Jesus three-and-a-half years ago. It seems like an insignificant thing, but how many of us in times of discouragement, depression, or isolation tend to go back to the things that bring us comfort?

It’s easy for us because it’s what we know how to do. But that is not where Jesus wants us. The very next verse, we see Jesus standing on the beach calling out to the disciples. When Peter realizes who it is, he jumps in the water and heads for shore. The Bible tells us when they arrive on the shore with their fish that Jesus already has breakfast waiting for them: fish cooking over a charcoal fire. 

During their conversation over breakfast, Jesus asks Peter three times if he loves Him. Peter the first time responds, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” Again Jesus asks the question, and Peter responds, “Yes Lord, you know I love you.” A third time Jesus brings the question, and the Bible says this time Peter was hurt that He asked the question again and responds, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

It’s funny to me that it says Peter was hurt when Jesus asked him a third time. We can get so caught up in our emotions and our feelings that we can’t see what’s happening around us. Peter’s feelings were hurt because Jesus had to ask three times, but how did Jesus feel the three times a little girl around a fire asked Peter if he knew Jesus only for Peter to deny it every time?

So three times Jesus asks Peter and three times Peter confirms his love for Him. It’s a picture of God’s complete restoration power. Three times Peter denied Him, three times Peter confirms his love. 

I studied this some time ago and wondered why John made sure to let us know that it was a charcoal fire Jesus was cooking breakfast over. Digging deeper, I found that the word used there in the original language was the Greek word “anthrakia.” So I went a little bit further to see how many times that word was used in the Bible. The answer: twice. Once in our passage today, and the other time was in John 18, where Peter sat around a charcoal fire being asked by a little girl if he knew Jesus. Next to a fire he denied Jesus three times and now next to the same fire he recommits himself to his Lord and Savior.

If we allow Him, God doesn’t just want to bring partial restoration, but today I know that He offers complete reconciliation through the power of His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ—do you know this?

As we close our 21 days of prayer and fasting, let’s make 2018 a year of new things, of new restoration, and of new levels of relationship with Christ.

Our Prayer:

Lord, thank You for your restoration power. Thank You that what the enemy has meant for evil in our lives, You have the ability to use for your good. Thank You, Jesus, that through You we can be reconciled with the Father. That You died for us, rose again, and Your Spirit now lives in us. Wherever we find ourselves today, may we abandon those things that we run to for comfort, and run to the only true source of comfort in our life: You. Amen.