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Chuck Smith :: Sermon Notes for John 21:1

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A. In chapter 20, John tells us of the two appearances of Jesus to His disciples coming one week apart.
1. He had shown himself to individuals, but this is the third time to the disciples as a group.
2. How long after the last appearance recorded in chapter 20, we do not know. We do know that for a period of 40 days, He was manifesting Himself to them on various occasions and in various places.
a. He had instructed them to go up to the Galilee region and He would meet them there. Matt. 28:7.
b. Matthew tells us that Jesus told them to meet Him on a certain mountain in the Galilee, and He appeared to them there.
c. The appearance recorded here is not given to us in any chronological order so we do not know if it happened before He met them on the mountain, or after.
d. We do know that they returned to Jerusalem possibly for the feast of Pentecost, and about ten days before the feast, Jesus appeared for the last time prior to His ascension.
e. It was then that they were instructed to wait in Jerusalem for the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
f. It would seem that they, then for the most part, remained in Jerusalem, and there was the headquarters of the early church.
g. I find it interesting that there is no mention of any continued work in the Galilee region. The book of Acts is strangely silent. This is not to say that it did not happen, only there is no record. Perhaps it is because of the curse that Jesus put on many of the cities in that region for their unbelief. Capernaum, Chorazin, Bethsaida were all singled out for His woes for the coming judgment.
A. Seven of the eleven disciples were together at the sea and they are named.
1. Simon Peter. His given name was Simon, which is the Greek for the Hebrew Shemeon. He was named Petros by Jesus after His confession that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Petros is a little stone in contrast to Petra which is a massive rock.
2. Thomas called Didymus or twin.
3. Nathanael of Cana of Galilee. The one that was witnessed to by Philip, and brought to Jesus.
4. The Sons of Zebedee which would be James and John.
5. Two unnamed disciples.
B. Simon Peter saith unto them, "I'm going fishing."
1. Perhaps this was before Jesus appeared to them on the mountain.
2. It may be that they had waited for a few days for Jesus to show up, and Simon Peter is getting a little antsy.
3. Whether or not this is said as sort of a finality, like I'm giving up on this discipleship thing, and going back to my old means of livelihood, or just as a suggestion to pass the time, "Let's go fishing." The kind of suggestion is not given to us to know, only to speculate.
a. We see, however, the leadership characteristics that are innate in Peter, for immediately the other six said, "We'll go with you."
b. Could it be that Peter was turning His back on the call of Jesus to leave his nets and become a fisher of men?
c. The ensuing discussion with Jesus might cause one to be inclined toward that opinion.
B. "And that night they caught nothing."
1. When God has called you to leave the nets and follow Him, you cannot really hope to have much success in other endeavors.
2. There is nothing more exciting than fishing when and where they are biting.
3. There is nothing more boring than fishing when they are not biting.
4. Maybe my wife is right and I fit the wiggly willie profile, but I can't stand to just sit with a line in the water waiting for the fish to come and take my bait. I can handle fly fishing, or plug fishing, or trolling.
5. It was still early spring, and out on the sea at night can get chilly.
C. "When the morning had now come, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus."
1. He called to them, "Children do you have any meat?" or "Did you catch anything?" This is such a typical question to ask a fisherman.
2. Now Jesus knew that they had not caught anything, He was just giving them a chance to confess their failure.
3. He had told them that apart from Him, they could do nothing. They were trying to do something apart from Him.
4. He asked the question not for His information, but to give them an opportunity to confess their failure.
5. The Lord wants us to confess our sins. This gives to Him the opportunity to then deal with them.
D. They answered, "No."
1. He now told them to cast the nets on the right side of the ship and they would find.
2. Many times the distance from failure to success is very close.
3. Many times the only difference between failure and success is directed service and nondirected service.
a. On his own Peter said, "I'm going fishing." With all his experience, knowledge and skill, he caught nothing.
b. Now Jesus is directing his activities. Jesus is guiding his service.
c. What a difference it makes. The difference between total failure, and complete success.
d. Notice how confident Jesus is of their success, "And you shall find."
4. They followed His instructions and immediately the net was full of large fish, so much so that they were unable to pull the net into the ship because of the number of fish.
a. This is a fisherman's dream. Big fish, plenty of them.
b. John the man quick of perception, immediately said, "It is the Lord."
c. He realized that this kind of dramatic change from failure to success could only be attributable to one person, and that was Jesus.
d. Perhaps this took him back to the time when they were first attracted to Jesus. Jesus had borrowed Peter's boat the morning after a fruitless night of fishing. After Jesus had addressed the multitude, he told Peter to cast out into the deep and let down his nets for a draft. Peter accommodatingly said, "We have fished all night and have caught nothing, nevertheless at your word we will do it.
e. As Peter's ship began to sink with the numbers of fish, he called out to James and John on the shore to come out in their ship and join him in the great haul of fish.
f. It was deja vue.
5. Here again John rightly described himself as that disciple whom Jesus loved.
a. The truth is, Jesus loves all of His disciples.
b. The problem is, not all of His disciples realize this.
6. "Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he gird his fisher's coat unto him, for he was naked, and did cast himself into the sea."
a. Here again true to form impetuous Peter cannot wait to get into the row boat to get to Jesus but grabs his coat and dives in and swims to shore to meet Jesus.
b. I love this impulsive guy.
c. I love those men who are ready and anxious to launch out on any endeavor for Jesus.

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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