John 21:1-19

I.  John 21:1-3 – The Disciples Go Fishing

a. Christ had promised to meet His disciples in Galilee (Matt 28:7,10; Mark 16:7)

b. Peter announces that he’s going fishing.

i. Some see in this an abandonment of his profession. Jesus had once called him from fishing to the calling of shepherding souls.

ii. John underlines that they caught nothing all night (reminiscent of Luke 5).

II. John 21:4-14 – Christ supplies

a. Christ appeared on the shore but they did not recognize Him from 100 yards.

b. Lovingly, “Children (lads) have you anything to eat?”

c. Cast your nets on the other side of the boat and you will catch.

i. Experienced fishermen

ii. Same instruction from Luke 5:4

iii. They immediately obeyed?!

d. John 21:7 – They cast their nets and were unable to haul it because of the great number of fish.

e. John 21:8 – John said to Peter: “It is the Lord”

i. Peter generally acts before John while John generally understands before Peter

f. John 21:9 – Simon belted his jacket and flung himself into the sea

i. In Luke 5, the Holiness of Christ had frightened Peter to implore Christ to depart from him

ii. Here, the Apostle cannot get to Christ fast enough. His heart is broken and He flies to Christ.

g. When they got ashore, Christ had already provided food for them. The shepherd had provided a simple meal for those unable to provide food for themselves.

h. Christ asked them to see all the fish that they had caught. He was reminding them they would be fishers of men and preparing them for what was to follow.

i. Christ fed His disciples who could not provide for themselves.

III. John 21:15-17 – Feed my Sheep

a. Peter had betrayed the Master three times

i. It was not merely Judas who had committed treason

ii. Was Peter still an Apostle?

iii. Christ restores Him with a threefold questioning

b. John 21:15 –Simon, son of John, Do you love me more than these

i. Does not call him Peter but Simon – the name by which He had first found Him.

ii. Do you have complete devotion and love for me more than these?

1. Peter had boasted in Matt 26:33 that, if all others left Him, he would stick with him unto death.

2. Peter had denied Christ to a slave girl before a fire

c. “Lord, you know I have affection for you…”

i. No longer compares himself to the other disciples

ii. He refuses the higher term for love. He won’t claim wholehearted devotion to Christ. He had betrayed Christ.

iii. He pleads the penetrating knowledge of Christ: “You know I have affection”

d. “Feed my lambs”

e. John 21:16 – “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”

i. Does not compare him to the others

ii. Do you really love me with your whole person (emotions, mind, and will)?

f. Indeed Lord, you know I have affection for you.

i. Same answer as before

ii. Does not dare to claim the level of love that Christ is asking.

g. Tend to my sheep

h. John 21:17 – Jesus said to him a third time, “Simon do you have affection for me…”

i. Type of love that Peter was using

ii. OK Peter, you don’t love me more than all others. You don’t love me as much as you should. Peter, do you love me at all?

i. John 21:17 (ESV)

j. 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.

i. Peter was grieved

ii. At His betrayal, Luke notes that Christ looked at Peter with His penetrating gaze and this broke the Apostle’s heart.

iii. There is no sense to try to hide his guilt.

iv. There is no sense in trying to claim knowledge of his own heart.


vi. Lord, you know I have affection for you. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!

k. Feed my dear sheep

i. Tender affection

IV. Two things to let penetrate your heart: Christ is our Great Shepherd and Christ is our Great High Priest

V. First, we need to note what Christ called Peter to: Shepherd His dear sheep.

a. Christ calls Peter to feed my dear lambs, my sheep

b. Christ had laid down His life for His sheep

c. The Scriptures are full of condemnation for those who abandon the sheep to wolves and do not care for them.

d. The Pastor is an undershepherd of God and is called to feed Christ’s sheep

i. They are not the pastor’s sheep, they are Christ’s sheep

e. The sheep of Christ need Christ’s Word to be fed

f. Men and women today think they know what they need when they come to Church

i. They want a little improvement around the edges

ii. They want obedient children

iii. They want to tell the Church what diet they need to improve their lives

g. The Lord calls His pastors and shepherds to feed with His Word

h. Men and women today think they know how to take care of themselves

i. They know how to make it in this world

ii. They are successful

iii. They have the weapons they need to protect themselves

i. The Lord is my Shepherd

i. The pastor is called to fight for Christ’s sheep

ii. The pastor is called to protect them from wolves that can tear their souls apart

j. Paul calls us to pray for our shepherds as those who watch over our souls and who must give account.

i. Let us be humble that Christ alone knows our heart

ii. Let us be thankful that Christ calls men to watch over our souls.

VI. Secondly, we have to ask ourselves: Why was Peter restored?

a. Why didn’t he hang himself like Judas did?

b. Why could he become an Apostle again?

c. The answer is found in Luke 22:31–33: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

d. The answer is found in the Priesthood of Christ

i. Christ had prayed for Peter!

e. Christ’s prayers are answered!

i. Hebrews 7:23-25 – The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

ii. He continually seeks from His Father the blessings he has procured by his death for his people. He provides them with his life-giving Spirit, instructs, protects, and enriches them and brings them to glory. He prays for us when we are not praying for ourselves, before we even realize we need help and when we have failed.

f. There is no limit to the salvation that Christ completely procured in his death and lives to bestow in its totality. We dare not say to ourselves: “He helped me today, but will help me tomorrow?” or “He forgave me this sin before, but will he do so again?”

g. He will never fail us!

h. He will never forget us!

VII. John 21:18-19 “Follow Me”

a. John 21:18-19 – 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.”

b. We tend to think of retirement when we get to old age in this country as the highest calling.

c. Christ called Peter to follow Him unto death.

d. This is the Peter whose Epistle we have been studying.

e. This Peter sinned against the Savior with a high hand.

f. But the Savior is strong to save.

g. The Savior is strong to intercede.

h. The Savior is able to call us to die to ourselves because all life is submission to a Shepherd Who watches over our souls and prays for us at every step.

i. The Epistles of Peter were written by a man whose life was in the shadow of a promise that He would die in service to Christ.

j. Such service was possible because Christ loved Peter when He was unlovable.

k. According to tradition, Peter was martyred under the reign of Nero and requested that he be crucified upside down as he was not worthy of the death of his Lord.

VIII. Do you need a Shepherd?

a. Do you understand the need to have someone care for your soul?

b. Do you understand the need to be rebuked and exhorted as the bread that comes from the Word of God?

c. Do you understand the need to be delivered from Satan who has the power to sift you like wheat except that Christ is more powerful and sees to it that none He owns will be lost?

IX. Do you understand the need for the Priesthood of Christ?

a. Holy, undefiled, spotless – only He fulfilled all righteousness and qualified Himself as a priest by becoming sin for us to atone for our Sins.

b. Do you trust that He alone has the power of an indestructible life that He might pray for your life to be conformed to His own?

X. Christian, let Christ ask you :  Do you love me with all of your heart?

a. Do you love me more than everyone else who has ever been a Christian?

b. Do you love me as much as you ought with all your heart, soul, and mind?

c. Do you have any affection for me whatsoever?

d. Fly to the Savior who loved you with an everlasting love: LORD YOU KNOW ALL THINGS!