Study Guide

Gospel of John Chapter 21

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Chapter 21

Lots of Fish in the Sea

  • After this, Jesus appears again to the disciples on the sea near Tiberius, back up in Galilee.
  • Peter is there, along with Thomas, Nathanael, the Beloved Disciple, and three other unnamed disciples. The group decides to go fishing, but they don't catch anything that night. Night fishing is not their best idea.
  • At dawn, Jesus stands on the beach and calls out to them. He tells them that if they try casting their nets on the right side of the boat they're sure to catch some fish.
  • The disciples don't realize it's Jesus, but since they always listen to fishing advice shouted by random people, they follow his instructions anyway. They catch so many fish that they can barely haul them all into the boat. Bring on the tartar sauce.
  • Then the Beloved Disciple realizes—that's Jesus standing on the beach. Ding ding.
  • Peter is so excited to hear this that he jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. Oh, Peter, you big goon.
  • The other disciples are only about a hundred yards off, so they bring the boat in along with the gigantic catch of fish. When they reach the shore, they see a fish cooking over a fire and some bread. Jesus tells them to bring the fish they caught. Peter helps bring in the haul.
  • They've caught 153 huge fish. Not only is that a really specific number, it's amazing because their net isn't even torn.
  • Jesus invites them to have breakfast with him. He takes the bread and gives it to each of them and does the same with the fish. 
  • He fishes. He cooks. He rises from the dead. What can't Jesus do?

Do You Love Me?

  • When they all finish eating, Jesus asks Peter if he loves him.
  • Of course, Peter says.
  • Jesus asks Peter a second time if he loves him. Maybe his hearing is going.
  • But—get this—Peter still does.
  • Then, Jesus asks him a third time. Come on, Jesus. Seriously?
  • Peter is starting to feel a little hurt. Of course he loves Jesus. Jesus knows everything—he should know that, too.
  • Jesus explains to Peter that when he (Peter) was young, he could go wherever he wanted, but when he gets older, he will be taken by force somewhere he doesn't want to go. Translation? Peter's going to be a martyr.
  • Peter doesn't seem too excited by this. He asks what's going to happen with the other disciples, specifically The Beloved Disciple. Will they be sharing a cross built for two anytime soon?
  • Nope. The Beloved Disciple looks like he's going to die a natural death. Peter really got the short end of that stick.

The End

  • The gospel writers tell us that the Beloved Disciple is the one who saw all this and wrote it down. He's vouched for it, so no worries.
  • The stories in this gospel are just the tip of the iceberg though. Jesus also did so many other amazing things. If someone ever tried to write them all down, there wouldn't be enough paper in the entire world. And just imagine the hand cramps.

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