Much has happened since Peter first met Jesus. In a few short years, it seems as though a lifetime has transpired. Peter, the fisherman, has become Peter, the apostle. The young man who used to spend his days on the Sea of Galilee pursuing fish, is now a man who has spent over three years fishing for men. I imagine, at one time, his stories were all about his biggest catch, or perhaps times of weathering one of the storms for which the Sea of Galilee was famous. Now his stories would include tales of praying for the sick, casting out demons, and raising the dead. Certainly, life had changed for the young fisherman from Galilee. Along with change, came true spiritual development. The Peter who first met Jesus, was not the same Peter we see standing here. Sure, he still had his setbacks, but life with Jesus had changed him. Later, we read that even unbelievers recognized that spending time with Jesus changes men.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.” Acts 4:13
That being said, I am struck by the commission Jesus gives to Peter. He simply says, “Follow Me.” those are the same words, the same call, the same commission Peter heard when he began his journey with Jesus. All the growth, all the ministry, all the experience, would never change the basic call of God on Peter. He was never called to change the world, but to simply and continually follow Jesus.
Things are the same for me and you. When we first heard the Gospel, we heard Jesus say, “Follow Me.” No matter how long ago that may have been, no matter how closely you have walked with Him, or how far you have fallen; regardless of what mission trips, Bible studies or worship teams, you have been involved in, the commission remains the same. Jesus wants you to follow Him.
I have always loved that first call on the life of Peter, when Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). It greatly encourages me to know, when I follow Jesus, He will make the changes in me so that I become the man He intends for me to be.
Let’s recommit ourselves today, to be followers of Jesus. Let’s determine we will go the way He is going, and be involved in the things He wants for our lives. As we do, He will make us into who He wants us to be.
Questions for John 21
- The disciples had all received the Holy Spirit in the last chapter, and were born again. Yet in verses 1-3 we see them going back to the old way of life. How many of them are in this story? Who led the charge back to the old life?
- At the end of verse 3, what was the result of going back to the old life?
- After the miraculous catch of fish, who realizes who is on shore? How does Peter respond when he finds out it is Jesus?
- What does Peter do with his coat? I’m so glad Jesus chose this guy.
- Presumably, the disciples were fishing to provide for their own needs. However, read Luke 5:4-10. What did Jesus say at the end of Luke 5:10? Now look at verses 9-13 of John 21. What did Jesus already have waiting for them on the shore?
- In verses 15-17, we see Jesus restoring Peter to ministry by giving him three opportunities to affirm his love for Jesus, even as he had denied that love three times earlier. What does Jesus tell Peter to do?
- History tells us that Peter died by crucifixion. When he began to be crucified he requested that it would be upside down, as he did not feel that he was worthy to die the same way as his Lord. Verses 18 and 19 record Jesus prophesying Peter’s eventual crucifixion. Would you say that Peter proved that He did love Jesus?
- Peter does not like this prophecy, and essentially asks, “What about John? What’s going to happen to him?” How does Jesus respond to this question in verse 22? Is it a good thing to compare ourselves to others? Instead of that, what should we be busy doing?
- Throughout the gospel of John, John does not identify himself by name. However, read verses 20-24 and note how his identity is revealed.
- Consider verse 25. The gospels are not an exhaustive record of all that Jesus did. That would be impossible to record. However, taken as a whole, they are a very complete picture of our Lord.