Eight Lessons For Life from John 21

The excitement was over. 

The disciples had lived through the horror of the arrest and trial, witnessed the agony of the cross, and experienced the resurrection at the tomb and through their own interactions with the resurrected Christ.

Now what?  They didn’t see Him everyday like before. They probably felt like they were living in limbo waiting for the next blow to hit. Ever felt like that? Me too . 

Never one to wait around, Peter made a decision. 

He went fishing.  It was what he knew. 

The morning found Peter, James, John, Nathanial, Thomas, and two other unnamed disciples toiling at the nets as they attempted to bring in a catch.  No luck!  If you have ever worked around boats, you know that casting and hauling nets is hard labor.  They had been at it all night.

Then they heard a voice from the shore – “Children, have you any meat?”  Their answer was, ‘no’.  The voice told them to cast the net on the right side of the ship and they would find fish.  No pain, no gain, so they cast the net one more time.  So many fish went into that net that they could not haul it aboard; they had to drag it to shore. 

When the net filled up, John recognized the person calling to them as the Lord.  Peter, always impulsive, jumped in the water and swam to the shore, while the others rowed in, dragging the net of fish. 

When the disciples arrived, Jesus had already prepared a breakfast of fish for them, but He invited them to bring some of their catch as well.

As Jesus broke the bread and offered the food to them, I am sure that their minds must have travelled back to the Passover meal they had shared with Him, just a few weeks before.  Here they were again, begin fed by the Master. 

After the meal, Jesus hah a conversation with Peter, where He established Peter’s work and mission.  None of this limbo business – Jesus gave Him a personal calling and purpose.

As I read this familiar story, I find some truths for my life:

  • Verse 3 – My effort without God yields nothing.
  • Verse 6 – My effort under God’s direction yields much fruit.
  • Verses 7, 8 – After the fish are caught, they must be brought in.  For me, this speaks of the task of discipleship.  Leading someone to Christ is followed by discipleship, the act of helping one become established in the faith. Discipling a new believer is hard work.
  • Verse 11 – When I think there is just too much – to bear, to do, to help, to understand, to finish – God is able to expand my capacity to hold what He gives me.
  • Verse 12 – Jesus’ invitation is always open
    • Come and receive nourishment.
    • Come and have fellowship.
    • Come and enjoy.
  • Verse 18 – The road Jesus described is not an easy road.  I am reminded of the quote “The gift of ease is not a worthy gift.  The gift of challenge is a worthy gift.”  Jesus gave Peter a task worth doing, a purpose worth dying for.  My life is not meant to be a life of ease, but one that challenges every gift and ability that God has given. 
  • Verse 22 – Whether or not others follow Jesus, God calls me to obedient service.  My commission is personal.
  • Verse 23 – On a lighter note, if people misquoted and misunderstood Jesus, I shouldn’t be surprised when the same happens to me.

Don’t just take my word for these truths. Take a moment to read through this short chapter (John 21) and allow God to speak to your heart today.  His invitation is still open.

He called my heart to follow Him.
I said, "I'll gladly go".
His promise reached before me -
the trials I could not know.
Day by day, I sought His will
the future seemed so bright
but then the troubles mounted up
and seemed to dim the light.
The pressures of this daily life
drained my strength and soul.
My focus dimmed and I lost sight
of what had been my goal.
I knew that I had lost my way,
and yet I struggled on.
My efforts seemed so useless.
My heart had lost His song.
The Savior saw my weary steps
and reached to meet my need.
He stretched His hand out to my heart
and asked, "Do you love Me?"
My broken heart cried out in pain
"You know I love You, Lord."
In grace, He gave me work to do
and said, "Go live My Word."
My heart cried out "unworthy"
knowing my strength so small.
"I've failed before, I'll fail again.
You know I'm prone to fall."
His reply revealed great grace -
His love so clear and true.
"I only need your willingness;
My strength, enough for you."

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