22 April 2017

John 21:1-14

“Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’” (v. 3)

Psalm: Psalm 135


John's Gospel was the last of the four Gospels to be written, in about AD100. It is very different from the other Gospels. It contains no parables. The stories in John's Gospel have minute details which serve a particular purpose. The Gospel also contains lengthy discourses by Jesus which were given before he died.

The verses preceding the today's passage are about how Thomas came to believe in the risen Lord (John 20:19-29). And the end of John 20 gives the purpose of the Gospel (John 20:30-31). Many scholars think that John 21 was added later.

The disciples were somewhat at a loss. Jesus had died; they had seen him but it was as if they did not know what to do next. Perhaps it would be best to go fishing. John does not tell us, but we know from the other Gospels that many of the disciples had been fishermen (Matthew 4:18-22). They would go back to doing what they knew - fishing.

But they did not catch anything. Things were not the same as they had been before they had met Jesus, but they did not know how to carry on. Peter had denied Jesus (John 18:15-18, 25-27), but notice that he takes the lead in suggesting the fishing expedition and the others follow.

Verses 4-6 may remind us of Luke 5:1-11 where after an unsuccessful night of fishing, Jesus met the disciples and told them where to cast their nets.

The fire mentioned in verse 9 might have reminded Peter of another fire (John 18:25). It was at such fire that Peter had denied that he knew Jesus.

And the reference to bread and fish in verses 12-14 is reminiscent of the feeding of the multitude earlier in the Gospel (John 6:1-14).

To Ponder

  • To what extent do we choose what seems to be a safe option when we are at a loss what to do?
  • How does Jesus' encouraging the disciples to cast the net on the right side of the boat challenge us, in the sense that perhaps that is why we are often at a loss, not casting our nets on the right side of the boat? 

Bible notes author

The Revd Lynita Conradie

Lynita Conradie is a Methodist presbyter in the Nottingham North Circuit. Originally from South Africa, she was a human rights' lawyer before entering the ministry and being ordained by the Methodist Church of Southern Africa.