John 21

John 21 Devotional
by Pastor Lawrence

In this epilogue to John’s gospel, the beloved disciple of Jesus wraps up the loose ends concerning Peter and his denial of Christ. After boasting before the disciples in the upper room that he would never fall away from Jesus, three times Peter denied that he was his disciple and felt the bitter shame of his betrayal when the rooster crowed and he saw Jesus beholding his duplicity. But unlike Judas, the son of perdition, Peter never abandoned his faith in Christ and held on to his hope that only increased with the appearances of his resurrected savior.

Having seen the risen Christ at least on two occasions prior to this, the disciples were awaiting for Jesus to reappear this time in the region of Galilee for that is what Jesus had told them would happen in Matthew 28:10. So though some have assumed that Peter had given up as a disciple and returned to his original calling, the truth is that he and his brothers were simply waiting for Jesus to return and figured they would be productive in the meantime by going fishing.

This account of their fishing activity is very similar to what we find in Luke 5 when Jesus first called these fishermen to follow him. In both accounts the men had been fishing all night and in both accounts Jesus gave them directions to fish in a different spot that resulted in a great catch. The difference between these two accounts besides the fact that they didn’t know that it was Jesus speaking to them in the later episode is Peter’s response to the catch. In the first encounter Peter fell down at Jesus’ feet saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man,” for he realized that he was standing before a holy and powerful God. In the second encounter, however, he doesn’t seek to withdraw in fear in the presence of Christ. Instead he immediately jumps out of his boat and swims toward Christ.

Why does he respond so differently? In both cases Peter certainly recognizes that he is a sinful man, but in this later episode he also has come to learn something of the grace of God that is found in the face of Christ. Surely his latter sins were much greater than his initial ones, but where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. When a man truly believes in Christ, his sin does not lead him to hide from Jesus in shame, but rather to pursue him all the more, for it is only in him that we find forgiveness, restoration and hope.