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Peter Goes Fishing

Peter Goes Fishing        Saturday, December 16, 2017

Peter Fishing


By James L. Thornton



John 1:1-25.

In This Study #7 Of The Men Jesus Chose We Will Take A Look At An Incident That Happened After Jesus Arose From The Dead In Which He Appeared To His Apostles.

We Have Already Covered Many Of The Things Concerning Simon Peter In Study #1.

We Covered His Introduction To Jesus, His Probable Kinship To Jesus, His Occupation, His Call To Follow Jesus, Walking On The Sea, His Confession That Jesus Was The Christ, Jesus Giving Him The Keys To The Kingdom Of Heaven, Him Being Rebuked By Jesus, Then Simon Peter And The Tribute Tax.

These Are Some Of The Things We Will Cover In Study #7.

1. The Reason John Wrote This Chapter. 
2. Simon Peter And Six Other Disciples Go Fishing. 
3. The Circumstances Which Lead To The Fishing Trip. 
4. Jesus Faces His Greatest Crisis. 
5. The Fishing Excursion Is An Abandoning Of Their Ministry. 
6. Jesus Takes 5 Steps To Restore Simon Peter. 
7. The First Step, They Didn't Catch Anything. 
8. The Second Step, "Cast Your Net On The Other Side." 
9. The Third Step, Jesus Warms Then And Feeds Them. 
10. A Fire Of Coals. 
11. The Fourth Step, "Lovest Thou Me." 
12. The Fifth Step, Jesus Uses Peter's Answer Back To Him. 
13. Peter Gave His Life For His Lord.

The Setting For This Study #7 Is Taken From An Incident Which John Records In Chapter 21 Of His Gospel.

John Is Writing A Post Script To His Gospel.

This Is Not Something That John Has Forgotten To Include In His Story Of The Life And Death Of Jesus.

No, The Incident Is Much Too Precious For Such A Man As John To Forget.

When John Writes This, All The Characters In The Story Are Dead.

John Writes Of An Experience Which Happened To An Old Friend Whom He Had Known From Boyhood Days--Simon Peter.

It Took Place Not Long After The Resurrection Of Our Lord.

John Is The Only Evangelist Which Mentions It. 
Paul Refers To It In 
(1 Corinthians 15:5)

Jesus was never more kind and tender than in John chapter 21. 
This chapter was truly inspired by the Holy Ghost.

It was so needful. It answers a lot of questions which would have always been on our mind, concerning the downfall and restoration of Simon Peter.

How else could Simon Peter have rightfully been head of things at Pentecost?

All of the Evangelists tell the story of the denial of our Lord by Simon Peter. 
The Downfall 
The Weeping

Satan would have liked for his story to end there, but John gives us another chapter. It's so priceless.

I love Simon Peter so much that I wish to bring you the story in such a way that you will want to read it over and over again.

Read the words which brought him back to his place as one of the keepers and feeders of the Flock.

This incident was what so changed and molded Simon Peter all the rest of his life.

In this incident Peter's temper and disposition was changed. 
Here he meets his master, and is forgiven of his deadly wrong.

We want to go up to Galilee with the company of Disciples. 
We want to visit the Lake again. 
We want to study this final miracle in all its details. 
We want to warm by that mysterious fire upon the shore.

Above all we want to hear the words, and see again the form of the Son Of Man, and experience his love, and tenderness.

John 21:1. After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

Jesus Had Given Them A Command That They Are To Go Into Galilee And There He Would Meet Them. (Mark 16:7)

We Want To Deal With 3 Things From This Reading In John 21:

1. The Forces (Causes, Reasons) Which Lead Simon Peter To "Go A Fishing."

A. Are These Forces Still At Work Today? 

B. Is It Possible For Us To Be Caught Up In These Same Forces And Go A Fishing?


2. The 5 Steps Jesus Took To Restore Peter To His Right Relationship With Him.

3. The 2 Words Which Have Been Translated In Our Bible (KJV) To Love.

Verse 2 Of John 21 Tells Us That 7 Of The Apostles, Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, And John, And Two Unnamed, Probably Andrew And Philip, Were Whiling Away Their Time Among Old Cronies And Old Associations.

Ten Sad Demoralizing Days:

So They Fell Into A Dangerous Mood Of Discontent.

Peter Backslid Into Business.


John 21:3a. Simon Peter said unto them, I go a fishing. ..


Such moods are always perilous to Christians and contagious to those around them.



In one impulse of emotion, "They say unto him, We also go with thee." John 21:3b.

Seven disciples back at the sea of Galilee. 
Maybe they faced ridicule in the village. 
"The great adventurers are back." 
"I always said their scheme would come to naught."

Openly to their faces, then behind their backs, 
People scoffed and jeered.

They themselves were puzzled, 
They waited day after day. 
Then, someone said, 
"Maybe he's not coming." 
"Maybe we were mistaken."

Sin loves companionship. 
Peter did not want to go fishing alone. 
I GO---We GO.

Even though enticed into sin, we all answer for our own actions.

But let us never forget the power of wrong doing. 

Paul reminds us in Romans 14:7. "For none of us liveth to himself…"

Remember the words of an old song, 
"Every act, every deed you perform 
Is a seed to someone, 
There is an All Seeing Eye watching you."

Half the drunkards in hell today owe the damnation they lie in to a comrade who invited them to take a swallow.

We must remember that these seven disciples were just ordinary human beings.

Their misstep was the first miserable and commonplace step leading back to their former life.

But, thank God, they never took the second step.

Let us learn this lesson well--Temptation usually takes the form of old indulgence when it comes upon a Christian unawares.

Well has it been said that, Men Fall On The Side Towards Which They Lean.

The adversary of our souls never rests. 
He will be alert until the day of his doom. 
The song which heralds his final destruction will certainly be sung. 
But, it is the last earthly music ever to be heard just before heavens jubilee begins.

The devil knows every man's former life, 
He knows the weakness every man used to have before he got saved.

Sin never touches a human being without leaving a scar behind, and it's always sensitive.

Satan remembers our habits, our tastes, our old associations of former years.That Is Where He Plans To Attack Us Again.

Now Maybe We Can Understand How Simon Peter Was Caught:

The old lake, 

The home feeling, 

The boats on the familiar beach, 
The nets all ready, 
He wanted to try his hand.

Thus the former drunkard is enticed by an offer to take a drink. 
A Gambler can be betrayed with the dice or the shuffle of the cards.

The person who once loved the world will be lured by the offer of a good time.

The Christian Must Realize That Old Familiar Sin Is Far Beyond All Others For Him To Dread.

Seven men, chosen by Jesus to be his Apostles, out now among old associations, now falling back into old patterns.

Someone has said that it was no great backward step when Simon Peter declared his decision to go fishing.

They say he was just passing time until the master called again. 

But, I say it was a loss of great sadness and shame.


They Had Lost Their Spiritual Perception:

Jesus was directly before them, and yet these disciples did not recognize him.

They did not know their Master's Voice because God was not in their thoughts.

But, let us not cast accusations nor point fingers until we ourselves are free of guilt.

How many time have we entered the prayer room only out of duty or persuasion? 
And with no real consecration. 
Or sit through the service listless and indifferent?

It is possible to be so close to the Lord yet so far away spiritually that we do not recognize Him.

Close Enough To Touch Him, And Not Feel Him, 
Close Enough To See Him, And Still Not Know Him, 
Close Enough To Hear Him, And Do Not Recognize His Voice.

His first word "Children," was the beginning of a new day for them.

Simon Peter Was On A Guilt Trip.

Simon Peter came to the lake that evening on a guilt trip under the burdening power of old guilt.

He is distracted with the weight of his denial of his Lord. 

His lying and profanity, 


He remembers the cock crowing, 



He was seized by an unseen hand, 
In his soul he is weeping bitterly.

A Crown Of Thorns:

Psalms 119:59. I thought on my ways, and turned my feet unto thy testimonies.

All that bad past is constantly before him. 
Satan seized the moment, the opportunity, 
When the load was the heaviest.

Peter was torn with conflicting emotions.

It was then the impulse struck him to go out for once into the old life.

He spoke his decision, "I Go A Fishing." John 21:3a.

The night of his choice ended with failure, 
But, thank God, Joy came to the lake early that morning.

Jesus Faces His Greatest Crisis:

This incident which took place in John 21 is one of the greatest crisis Jesus had to meet.

If he failed here much of his earthly ministry would have been in vain.


1. First he was dealing with Simon Peter, the undisputed leader among the Apostles.

As Peter went so went all the disciples.

Jesus was dealing with the Human Element, which we all must contend with.

Human Nature is fickle, capable of falling in, and out, of Love almost overnight.

Human Nature is changeable, favoring something today, and opposed to it the next day.

So we see the lack of stability, the erratic nature of Simon Peter throughout the Four Gospels.

James uses the term "Double-Minded" in his gospel. (James 1:8)

All of this Jesus had to contend with in the story we going to consider. (John 21)

2. Second, Jesus is dealing with satanic forces at work.

The devil, from the beginning, had tried to thwart, or stop, Jesus' purpose.

His Purpose Was, 
1. To usher in a "New Testament," Or Will. 
(Hebrews 9:15) 
2. To Validate that will with his blood. 
(Hebrews 9:16) 
3. To bring into being a Church which would preach the Gospel.
(Matthew 16:!8)

The Devil Had Failed In The First Two Of These:

The will had been brought into being. 
Satan could not keep Jesus from going to the cross and validating the will. 
He could not keep his body in the tomb. 
Salvation had been bought with the out poured blood at Calvary.

But now, this incident in John 21 is Satan's last grasp, last stand.

If there was no preaching of the gospel, no sinners would hear and repent. 
The plan of redemption would fail, there would be no church on earth.

The men named in the second verse of John 21 Constituted the Church. All of Jesus' teaching, and training, and doctrine, had been entrusted in them.

Satan knew this, 
This was to be his master stroke.

He seized upon the fickleness of Simon Peter, Satan had used him before.

Satan appealed to the human nature in Simon Peter, 
The love of the old way of life, 
The security he longed for.

Peter Had Sinned, by making a public denial of Jesus. 
Jesus could have easily rebuked him and forgot him, 
Cast him off as he did Judas, And Esau.

That's where Satan steps in, 
Led him back among old surroundings, 
"This Is Where You Belong."

The Fishing Excursion Is An Abandoning Of Their Ministry:

Simon Peter Says, "I Go A Fishing." 

Not just to throw a net until Jesus calls again. 

But, abandoning his preaching commission, 


Breaking off relations, 
Ceased to be his companion.

"A Fishing," A Return To A Habitual Act:

Not only did Peter say so, "They say unto him, we also go with thee."

How the Devil must have danced with glee, 
The whole church going fishing. 
Peter had failed in his pledge of allegiance, 
Now Simon Peter is returning to his former life, 
Six other disciples follow him.

But Satan had not considered God's divine power. 
Satan is not as smart as he thinks he is.


Now we want to consider the 5 steps Jesus took to restore Simon Peter back to right relationship with him.

First we see the secret of failure and success.

John 21:3. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 


4.But when morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples knew not that it was the Lord.

Jesus is teaching them that his presence is essential to each believer's success in duty.

Here we have seven apostles, who had under the influence of Simon Peter going off on this unnecessary fishing excursion, working to catch fish.

Remember they had hired on as fishers of men, that was their present business.

They were far out of the line of their duty in turning again to become fishers of fish.

1. The First Step Jesus Used To Restore Them:

That night they caught nothing.

Remember Jesus had taught them "Without Me Ye Can Do Nothing"

Let us note two words in this phrase, Night and Nothing.


This could be the motto for every Christless life and every Christless effort and every Christless person.

It is Night and Nothing.

In this boat there were at least four professional fishermen with 40 years experience.

They were rowing over a piece of water famous for it's unusual abundance of fish. The Sea Of Galilee.

These men were acquainted with all the best spots, the channels and coves, yet that night they caught nothing.

We know, by reading the whole story, that God thwarted them for their good.

God does this, he put up warnings, stop signs, barriers to stop our headlong rush to destruction.

Remembere how he stopped Balaam? (Numbers 22:23-34)

God is not on the side of his children when they refuse or forget to obey him.

Angels were sent to the bottom of the sea of Tiberias, 
That night they caught nothing.

Weary and vexed the luckless fishermen are pulling in towards the shore.

Light is forming in the eastern sky, outlining the hills of Gadara across from Capernaum.

John says "But when the morning was now come," (John 21:4)

What he is really saying, "When the night was finally over, Jesus stood on the shore."

No doubt the Son of Man had been there through the whole night while they were fishing.

They do not recognize him yet, but they will soon, Thank God.

Wonders are soon to Happen which they never dreamed, 
Words are to be spoken and feelings are to be felt by all which they will never forget.

David says "…….Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." (Psalms 30:5)

Weeping is a stranger sojourning in the human heart for one evening only. 
The early break of day arrives and this passing guest is off and away.

Joy, however is a welcome guest who comes, 
Not at sundown, but at dawn. 
Joy is willing to remain all the Livelong day.

Joy came to the lake of Tiberias by the early morning light. 
But they were too sad to recognize him.

John 21:4b. ………Jesus stood on the shore but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

2. The second step Jesus took to restore his own unto himself.

The presence of Jesus insures the believer's success in the line of his duty.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  (Philippines 4:13) 

John 21:3. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 


4. But when morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 


5. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, Have Ye any Meat? They answered him, No. 
6. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

Verse 11. tells us that there were 153 great fishes--and the net was not broken. 
The last time they caught a net full, the net brake.  
(Luke 5:6)

They had made such a haul as never heard of among the bragging fishermen of Capernaum.

It seems as if every fish in the lake was swarming trying to get into the net.

Let us back up a little bit in the narrative to the last part of verse 4.

John 21:4c. "… But the disciples knew not that it was the Lord."

That is the most pitiful proof of backsliding, 
When a believer can be without the presence of Christ, and not know it.

And very near the presence of Christ, and not feel it, 
Because of spiritual dullness. 
They Did Not Know Their Master's Voice. 
Because God Was Not In Their Thoughts.

They should have suspected at least that Jesus was close by. 
Let that be a lesson for us.

Why Did They Not Know Jesus?

To them Jesus must have seemed simply a stranger offering a helpful suggestion, after all he was at least 100 yards away.

It was early, maybe the light was still dim.

Let us search a little more.


Jesus had already made at least two appearances to these who knew him well. (Luke 24:33-48; John 20:26-29)

Let us consider that these were men who had been with him day and night for the past three years, if any one should have recognized him it should have been these men.

It may be that the appearance of Jesus was changed in some slight measure.

We know that he was wearing his Glorified Body. 
The corruptible had put on incorruption. 
The mortal had put on immortality. 
Death had been swallowed up in victory. 
(1 Corinthians 15:54) 
The Man Christ Jesus Had Been Lost. 
The Humanity Had Been Swallowed Up In Divinity!

These men and women who saw him during these 40 days, 
Saw God in all of his glory, 
All of his deity.

Jesus was now untainted by Human Blood Or Life.

He was not relegated by human ways or weakness. 
The power he possessed was absolute. 
(Matthew 28:18)

For 40 days his seat was vacant 
As he lead those disciples from their former imperfect ideas of His Person, 
His Character, And Conceptions Of Him, 
To A Loftier, Clearer, Purer Conception Of Him.

From walking with him in Human Form to 
Placing their faith in him as God.

Yet he wanted them to know that he was The Same Jesus Still
Touched by their (Our) infirmities, 
A brother to them as truly as when he lived among them.

Equally Alive to all human sympathies as when he walked with them by the way or sat down with them in the upper room.

No Jesus did not stay here on earth 40 days after his resurrection just to prove himself alive to his disciples, this could have been done in one day--two days at the most--he stayed to prove he was God.

His dress was not the same. 
John has already told us how his garments were distributed between those who crucified him.

Mary Magdalene thought he was the gardener.

John tells the story in his Gospel. (John 20:1-18)

Mary Magdalene came alone while it was dark, she saw the stone rolled away and ran to tell Peter.

There was a foot race between John and Peter to the sepulchre. 
Mary Magdalene followed them. 
Then after Peter and John left the sepulchre Mary was left weeping.

John 20:11. "…and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked (Gazed Intently) into the sepulchre. 
12. She saw two angels who spoke to her but she was so grief-stricken that even angelic voices could not reach her. 
14. She turns away from an interview with angels and saw Jesus standing close by. (And Knew Him Not) 
15. She supposing Him to be the gardener. (Was It His Dress?) 
16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary.

The old familiar voice, 
Instantly, Fully, The Revelation, Of his living presence bursts upon her.

Luke 24. The same day Jesus appeared to two disciples as they walked to Emmaus In The Garb Of An Ordinary Traveler, A Stranger. (Another Form, Mark 16:12)

He expounded all the Old Testament Scriptures, the things concerning Himself, that their faith should not stand in visions and revelations but in the word of God.

Their hearts burned within as he talked. 
He was revealed in the breaking of bread.

Unseen hands pulled the veil from their eyes.

Let us look at those 40 days with this in mind.

He was seen by them but 10 times in all before his ascension.

5 of those appearances occurring on the day of his resurrection.

He did not appear to them again for 8 days.

There were only six days on which he held conversation with them during that 40 days.

He did not give more than 6 hours to fellowship with those to whom he showed himself during this time.

But I feel that he was The Unseen Guest in many homes and with many people during those 40 Days.

He was Walking Unseen among them--maybe appearing to some as a stranger.

I feel that he visited the beloved family at Bethany, Mary, Martha, And Lazarus.

In Nazareth, in Capernaum, at Cana, and at Nain.

Unseen Today he will visit us--maybe he will come as a stranger, a gardener, a factory worker, or just a child.

He Will Come Today.

For A Reason, Our Lord Purposely Concealed Himself Till His Work Of Instruction Was Completed.

He drew a veil of some kind over their eyes which hindered their recognition of Him.

He wanted them to know him not by sight alone.


John was the first to discern the real truth, 

Peter was the first to act upon it.

John 21:7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and cast himself into the sea.


The very moment he saw Jesus watching--he rushed ashore-- 
leaving his comrades to drag the net.

Few other scenes capture our imagination like this one.

Have you ever noticed how Ringleaders in wrong always try and generally manage to evade blame and escape the law in moments of discovery?

Simon Peter went out of the boat as if to say, "It was not my idea to go fishing."

He came out on shore looking as meek and unconcerned, 
Like the woman in 
Proverbs 30:20 "Eateth and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness."

The Third Step To Restoration:

John 21:9. As soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread."

The first thing that caught their eyes upon coming to shore was amysterious "fire of coals" with fish laid thereon and bread.


Four Questions Come To Mind Which We Will Try Answer:

1. The First Question We Ask.

Does It Have Any Spiritual Significance? 
Any Gospel Purpose Or Meaning.

2. Second Question.

With Roughly 40 Miles Of Shoreline Around The Sea Of Galilee, Why Did This Boatload Of Tired, Weary, Hungry, Fishermen Come Into The Shore At This Particular Place?

Did Divine Province Play A Part In Them Choosing This Landing Spot?

3.Third Question.

Who Kindled The Fire? 
The Disciples? 
Simon Peter? 
Did Other Fishermen Leave It? 
"A fire Of Coals,.."

4. Fourth Question.

What Was It Kindled For? 
To Warm The Disciples? 
To Cook The Fish Upon?

5. Fifth Question.

Where Did The Fish And The Bread Come From Which Lay Upon It.? 
Did Other Fishermen Leave Them?

Why Not Come Straight To The Conclusion That Jesus Created The Whole Heap Of Fire, Fish, Bread, And Landing By Miraculous Means.

He Had Done It Before, He Can Do It Again.

The Prophet Elijah, Pursued By Enemies, Utterly Discouraged, Lay Himself Down Under A Juniper Tree, Requesting The Lord To Let Him Die.

He Did Not Die, He Fell Asleep--The Lord Had Something Yet For Him To Do.

He Was Exhausted From Lack Of Food And From Over-Anxiety.

The Almighty, Who Watches Over The Sparrows, Gave Him His Physical Needs First.

1 Kings 19:5. And as he lay and slept under the juniper tree, behold, then an angel touched him, and said unto him, arise and eat. 
6. And he looked, and, behold, there was 
a cake baked on the coals, and a cruse of water at his head; and he did eat and drink, and laid him down again. 
7. And the 
angel of the Lord came again the second time, and touched him, and said, Arise and eat; because the journey is too great for thee.

Satan Had Tempted Our Lord At The Beginning Of His Ministry To Make Stones Into Bread, Which He Did Not To The Suggestion Of Satan.

But Maybe Now That He Had Proved His Divinity By Rising From The Dead, He Made Stones Into Bread For His Own Use.

Our Lord Gave The Invitation To These Wayward Disciples.

John 21:12. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? Knowing that it was the Lord.

They Gathered Around That Little Center Of Warmth And Refreshment.

They Left To Their Master The Office Of Servant, By Allowing Him To Serve Them.

John 21: 13. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

They Are Awe-Struck And Solemn, No One Says A Word. 
They Know That It Is Him And Just Sit In The Radiance Of His Presence.

The Children Of The Bridegroom Had No Fasting While The Celestial Bridegroom Was With Them. Matthew 9:15

Why Was This "Fire Of Coals" Kindled?

To Relieve The First Wants Of A Group Of Hungry Fishermen Who Were Hungry, Cold And Weary--Who Had Been Out On The Lake All Night Without Catching Any Fish.

On This Very Shore Very Close By, Jesus Had Once Fed 5,000 Men And Women With Fish And Bread.

This "Fire Of Coals" Was Kindled In Order To Prepare Them For What He Had To Say To Them, Especially Simon Peter.

This Brings Us To The Main Reason I Feel That This Fire Of Coals Was Kindled.

This Word, "Fire Of Coals" Occurs In Only One Place Besides This In The New Testament.

When Simon Peter Was In The Awful Act Of Denying His Lord He Made His Profane Statements As He "Warmed Himself" Before"A Fire Of Coals." (John 18:18)

Keep This In Mind, Three Times Before "A Fire Of Coals" Peter Had Denied Jesus.

Now On This Morning, By The Sea, Jesus Brought Peter Back Before "A Fire Of Coals"


Jesus Reaches Down For Simon Peter

I Feel That This Whole Scene, This Whole Interview, Has A Reference To Simon Peter's Defection.

The Whole Purpose Is To Admonish Him, Rebuke Him, In Such A Way As To Restore Him.

Our Lord Has Reproduced So Much That Was Important In Simon Peter's Life, The Miraculous Draught Of Fish, Which Was A Part Of His Calling Luke 5:4-11), His Fall Before "A Fire Of Coals," And Now To Rebuke Him And Restore Him Before Another "Fire Of Coals."

We Could But Wonder If The Material Circumstances, Possibly The Physical Scenery Of Our Sins, Will Come Up Before Us At The Judgment As A Reminder, The Room, The Company, The Forest, The Stream, Even "The Fire Of Coals," May Come Up As A Witness To Show Our Guilt.

Simon Peter Had Sinned In His Public Denial Of His Lord, Now Publicly He Must Be Rebuked, Reminded, And Restored.

The Fourth Step To Restoration:

John 21:15. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter,Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?


In My Mind I Picture Jesus As He Asked Simon Peter This Question, Gesturing With A Wave Of His Hand Towards The Boat, The Sea, The Nets, And The Draught Of Fish, The Fresh Air Of The Sea, His Old Life, With All The Old Acquaintances.

We Have Reached, In Our Study Of Jesus' Dealings With Simon Peter In This Crisis Of His Life There Beside The Sea Of Galilee,The Very Core Of His Lesson.

James Russell Lowell (This Present Crisis) 
"There Comes The Moment In Every Man's Life, 
To Decide, For The Good, Or Evil Side."

This Moment Had Come In The Life Of Simon Peter 
And Both Heaven And Earth Awaited His Decision.

This Man Had Sinned In The Public Denial Of His Master.

It Would Have Been An Easy Matter To Rebuke A Sin So Vile, And So Well Known, And Then To Cast Him Off As He Did Judas.

But Simon Peter Was Worth Saving, 
Yet Simon's Sin Could Not Be Condoned.

He Must Be Forced To Feel That Not Only Had He Done Wrong, 
But That He Was Wrong Through And Through.

Jesus Desired To Bring On Him The Consciousness That The Principal Of Supreme Love And Loyalty To Himself Was The Thing Which Had Been Rejected.

His Apologies Must Be Refused.

How Does One Apologize To God?

His Testimony Concerning His Previous Experience And Purpose Must Be Set Aside.

Simon Peter Must Learn That His Acceptance Rested Entirely In His Penitence.

His Returning To His Former Glory Would Take More Than Weeping (Luke 22:62), Feeling Sorry For The Act--But Genuine Repentance And Restitution.

He Must Deplore The Act He Did.

John 21:15a. So when they had dined, Jesus saith unto Simon Peter,Simon, son of Jonas, …

Jesus Had Warmed Them And Fed Them. 
The Men Were Now Ready To Listen.

Let Us First Observe The Name Jesus Uses, "Simon, son of Jonas,.."

Jesus Does Not Call Him Peter. 
He Does Not Apply To Him That Epithet Of Description That As Yet He Has Not Attained To, For He Was Thus Far Anything But A "Rock" In His Behavior.

Jesus Never Did Call Him By The New Name He Gave Him (Matthew 16:17-18) But Once, And That Was When He Predicted Peter's Denial. (Luke 22:34)

The Question Jesus Asked:

Now Let Us Study The Question Which Jesus Asked Peter Three Times, 


And The Word Which Peter Used In His Answer.

John 21:15b. "…Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; Thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

"Lovest thou me….?

The Greek Word 'Agape' Which Jesus Used In His First Two Questions That Is Translated 'Love' In Our Authorized King James Version Has A Deep And Far Reaching Meaning.

It Is The Highest Degree Of Love:

It Has A Far Deeper Meaning Than The Word Peter Used In His Answer.

Jesus Reached Far Back Into The Old Testament For This Word.

Deuteronomy 6:5. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy might.

Jesus Asked For The Highest Form Of Devotion Which Over-master's One's Soul.

The Apostle Paul Carries It To The Farthest Extremes In His Epistle To The Corinthians 13, Where It Is Translated Charity.

It Is An Unselfish Love, Ready To Serve, Devoted.

Now Let Us Understand Why Jesus Asked Peter Where His Love Was Centered.

"Lovest Thou Me, …"

Jesus Is Asking That The Full Intensity Of His Disciples' Love Shall Be Centered On Himself.

He Does Not Ask, "Lovest thou the cause I came to proclaim?"

He Does Not Say, "Lovest thou the church?"

He Does Not Say, "Lovest thou my people, my children, my sheep?

"Lovest thou Me..?"

Jesus Claims Himself As "The one altogether lovely (Songs Of Solomon 5:16), And Demands The Sole Possession Of His Follower's Hearts.


"Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"  (John 21:15)

"These" Refers, Possibly, To The Other Disciples Sitting In The Little Circle With Them.

"Do You Love Me More Devotedly Than These Men Do--These Men Over Whom You Once Boasted?"

Jesus Was Looking Him In The Eyes.

The Last Time Peter Had Met That Glance He Was Standing By A Fire Of Coals In Caiaphas' Palace.

He Is Now Standing By A Fire Of Coals Trying To Evade That Glance.

Peter Had Said Before His Denial, "Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended." Matthew 26:33

He Is Saying, "I'm Ready To Die For You." Matthew 26:35

Now Jesus Means To Have Him Say Whether That Has Proved True.

That Issue Peter Seems To Evade--He Says Nothing About The Rest In Any Of His Answers.

He Does Not As Much As Tell The Lord That He Loves Him As Much As The Others.

"Yea Lord, thou knowest that I love Thee." (John 21:15)

But The Word Peter Used, "Philia," Has A Far Less Depth Of Devotion Than What Jesus Was Asking For.

What Peter Is Really Saying, 
"Thou knowest that I am attached to thee." 
"I really enjoy your company,"

Jesus' Response, "Feed my lambs." 
"My Little Sheep." 
"Supply Food For My Lambs."

Then Jesus Challenges Him Again, Once Again Looking Into Simon Peter's Eye.

John 21:16a. "He saith unto him again the second time, Simon son of Jonas, lovest thou me?"

Once Again Using The Highest Form Of The Word Love, "Agape."

Peter, No Doubt, Shifts His Eyes Away, His Feet Move Almost Involuntarily And Repeats His First Answer.

John 21:16b. "Yea Lord; thou knowest that I love (Philia) thee." 
I Have An Affection For You."

But I Know, And You Know, And Peter Knew, That Having An Attachment For Someone, Or Being Fond Of Them, Is Far From Being In Love With Them.

John 21:16c. He (Jesus) saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

The Fifth Step In Peter's Restoration:

Almost Immediately Jesus Faces Peter Once Again.


John 21:17. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest (Philia) thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love (Agape) thee.

This Time Jesus Drops Down To The Word Which Peter Has Been Using In His Answer To Him, "Philia."

It Is As Though Jesus Is Asking Him, "Simon Are You Even Attached To Me?" 
"Are You Sure You Are A Christian At All?

Three Times, In The Hall Of Judgment, Before A Fire Of Coals, Peter Had Sworn To A Plain Denial Of Ever Having Known Him At All.

Peter Had Broken On The Wheel And Been Marred. (Jeremiah 18:4)

Once Again Peter Is Placed Upon The Wheel And Is Broken, But This Time In The Hands Of The Potter.

"Peter Was Grieved …" (John 22:17)

Then Peter, From The Depths Of His Heart Calls Omniscience As A Witness.

John 22:17c. "Lord, thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love (Agape) thee."

"Lord, you saw and knew of my shortcomings." 
"You saw me in the hall as I swore I knew thee not." 
"You saw me likewise in the hours afterwards weeping as if my heart was broken.." 
"Thou knowest that I am ungrateful, impulsive, and contradictory," 
"Thou knowest all my wickedness, Thou Omniscient God And Savior--Thou knowest that I love (Agape) thee.

John 22:17c. "Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep."

"Shepherd my sheep." 
It Includes Feeding, Guidance And Protection.

From A Fisherman To A Shepherd And To An Apostle Was A Long Hard Road For Simon Peter.

Then Simon Peter Learns That Such An Awful Covenant Of Consecration Will Have To Be Sealed With Blood.

Jesus Shows Peter A Cross In The Distance-- 
He Will Die A Horrible Death Just As His Master Did. 
Thus He Will Glorify The Lord Who Forgave Him.

In the providence of God, Peter was permitted to close his ministry in Rome, where his imprisonment was ordered by the emperor Nero about the time of Paul's final arrest.

Thus the two veteran apostles, who for many years had been widely separated in their labors, were to bear their last witness for Christ in the world's metropolis, and upon its soil to shed their blood as the seed of a vast harvest of saints and martyrs.

Since his reinstatement after his denial of Christ, Peter had unflinchingly braved danger and had shown a noble courage in preaching a crucified, risen, and ascended Savior.

As he lay in his cell he called to mind the words that Christ had spoken to him:

"Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not."  (John 21:18)

The Last Thing Jesus told Peter To Do Was To, Follow thou me. (John 21:22)

Thus Jesus had made known to the disciple the very manner of his death, and even foretold the stretching of his hands upon the cross.

Peter, as a Jew and a foreigner, was condemned to be scourged and crucified. 
In prospect of this fearful death, the apostle remembered his great sin in denying Jesus in the hour of His trial.

Once so unready to acknowledge the cross, he now counted it a joy to yield up his life for the gospel, feeling only that, for him who had denied his Lord, to die in the same manner as his Master died was too great an honor.

Peter had sincerely repented of that sin and had been forgiven by Christ, as is shown by the high commission given him to feed the sheep and lambs of the flock. But he could never forgive himself.

Not even the thought of the agonies of the last terrible scene could lessen the bitterness of his sorrow and repentance.

As a last favor he entreated his executioners that he might be nailed to the cross with his head downward. The request was granted, and in this manner died the great apostle Peter. (Traditional)

We Close This Study Of Simon Peter's Life, Which Is By No Means Complete, But We Hope It Will Be Of Help To Others Who Are Struggling With Life's Perplexities.

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James L. Thornton

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