Key Texts: John 21:1-24 & Acts 1: 3-12
When the disciples reached land they immediately saw Jesus with a charcoal fire, fish being cooked and bread. How can 1 fish and loaf, feed over 7 men breakfast, when they are tired and hungry? Is there another miracle here being performed, besides the 153 big fish in an untorn net Jesus provided? The lesson we get is that Jesus has everything we need, in order to do what he wants us to do, even when it feels like he isn’t with us. Instead of fishing for fish, they should have been fishing for men. The compassion of Jesus in calling them from a distance, “children”, is how God views our disappointments. We may fish all night and feel our work is a waste, but Jesus knew that would be the case and used their frustration and loss to help them appreciate his merciful power.
After breakfast, Jesus calls Peter, “Son of John”, which is the same as “Bar-Jonah” and may have brought to Simon Peter’s remembrance that day when he first confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the son of God. Matthew 16:16, 17, “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”. When Peter’s confession of love was being made, you may safely assume that Peter’s denial was being forgiven. Was this the Lord’s way of making sure we understand that remorseful tears are only the beginning of repentance? We must realize that it is our love for Jesus, not our sorrow for sin, that ensures our forgiveness and compels our confession, see 2nd Tim. 4:8 & James 1:12.
This obviously got Peter motivated to help lead the disciples back towards Jerusalem, which Jesus was near in his ascension from Mt. Olivet. The promise of the coming Holy Spirit was made sure by Jesus immediately before his ascension. The usage of two different words for “love” in John 21, helped teach Peter, that his love for Jesus must grow to the extent that he put his own fears aside, and feed the sheep despite however many ravenous wolves of distraction scare him. Going back south towards Jerusalem must have been scary, there his enemies in the Sanhedrin would confront the sheep. But not without the presence of the Holy Spirit. During this time, Jesus spoke to them about the Kingdom of God, Ac. 1:3. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was promised during the 40 days Jesus showed himself, so perhaps this message of love, leadership and power in the Spirit and Kingdom served to mature Peter’s leadership in the right direction. The restoration of the Kingdom to Israel was happening but there are two things about it’s nature we must remember.
Firstly, it is spiritual not physical, Lk 17:21, we can’t even put a specific calendar date to it. We indeed can see the church born on Pentecost, but we can not date it’s entry and establishment in the world from Bethlehem to Calvary. Indeed the power of the Kingdom is increasing and progressive in the language of Paul in Col. 1:13 & 2nd Tim. 4:18.
Secondly, Christians are indeed the true circumcision, that is, spiritual Israel, see Php. 3:3, Romans 11:25-28 & Galatians 3:28. Therefore we have citizenship in the heavenly Jerusalem, Php. 3:20, and the Kingdom of God is being restored for eternity from heaven to earth and vice-versa.