The Gospel of John – Lesson 53 – John 21:1-14

After this, Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. This is how he showed himself: Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I’m going fishing.” They replied, “We’ll go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Early in the morning, Jesus was standing on the shore, but the disciples did not know it was Jesus. Jesus called to them, “Boys, don’t you have any fish?” “No!” they answered. He told them, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So they cast the net out. Then they were not able to haul it in because of the large number of fish. The disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard, “It is the Lord!” he tied his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about one hundred yards. When they stepped out on land, they saw some bread and a charcoal fire with fish on it. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed aboard and hauled the net to land, full of large fish, 153 of them. Yet even with so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come, eat breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread, and gave it to them, and also the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

After Jesus rose from the dead he made several more appearances to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. On this occasion Jesus appeared to them in Galilee as he promised he would. (See Matthew 28:10) John records that seven of the disciples were at the Sea of Tiberias (The Sea of Galilee) on that day. He doesn’t mention why the rest of the disciples weren’t present.

Peter was a professional fisherman, as were James and John, and possibly some of the other disciples. Peter decided to go fishing. The six other disciples who were there elected to join Peter. But the disciples fishing expertise didn’t pay off on that night. They caught nothing. As this scene unfolds we remember a time at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry when Peter, James, and John also failed to catch any fish during the previous night. (See Luke 5:1-11) Jesus used those events to prepare these men to follow him. Now he was going to prepare them to be his messengers in the world.

Jesus appeared on the shore early in the morning. The disciples didn’t recognize him initially. This could have been because of the distance the disciples were from shore. Or Jesus may have kept them from recognizing him as he did with Mary Magdalene (John 20) and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24) Regardless of why the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus they still followed his instructions when he told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. The result was the same as the events of Luke 5:1-11. The net was so full of fish they couldn’t pull it into the boat. They had to drag the net with them as they brought their boat to shore.

This miracle removed all doubts about the identity of the man who spoke to them from the shore. John told Peter it was Jesus. Peter quickly jumped in the water and swam to shore to meet his Lord. When the disciples arrived, Jesus already had breakfast waiting for them. John records that they all knew it was their Lord Jesus. Only he could have performed the amazing miracle they had just witnessed.

Jesus teaches us two important lessons in this account. The first is that he cares for our physical needs. Jesus took on human flesh to live among us to complete the work of our salvation. He knows the things we need to live. His disciples needed food for their bodies after a night of work. The disciples weren’t able to provide the food they needed. Jesus provided it for them. He already had fish and bread cooking over the fire when they arrived at shore. He also used some of the fish he blessed them with to provide for their needs.

Jesus may not provide a miraculous catch of fish to supply food for our bodies. But the Son of God, who has been given authority over all things, will provide our daily bread to us. He blesses us with the means to be able to afford the things we need to live. He provides for us in so many ways because it is his good and gracious will to do so.

More importantly, John records that this was the third time that Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. In a short time Jesus would ascend into heaven. His disciples would soon be sent out to begin the work of sharing the good news of our crucified and risen Savior. The disciples needed to be certain that Jesus was alive. Acts 1:3 records that “After he had suffered, he presented himself alive to the apostles with many convincing proofs. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and told them things about the kingdom of God.” By the time they began their work, the disciples were thoroughly convinced that Jesus lives and that all who trust in him as their Savior have life in his name. We praise our Lord that through his Word we are also convinced that Jesus who died is risen. His resurrection proves that he has met all our needs for eternal life.

Discussion Questions

1 – Jesus appeared to his disciples while they were fishing on the Sea of Tiberius. How did Jesus show his concern for his disciples’ earthly needs?
He first asked them if they had caught any fish. He then provided a huge catch of fish after the disciples caught nothing all night. Then when the disciples got to shore, he already had breakfast waiting for them.

2 – What other purpose did Jesus have for the miracle he did on this occasion?
Once again, Jesus proved to his disciples that he is the true Son of God.

3 – John recorded that this was the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection. Why did Jesus appear to his disciples numerous times before he ascended into heaven?
He proved to them beyond a doubt that he had risen from the dead. The disciples needed to be sure of this since they were about to begin the work of preaching the good news of Jesus to people everywhere.

4 – John wrote down these events many years after they actually happened. Yet he remembered many details like how many fish they caught and exactly what Jesus said. What blessings do we have as we remember what Jesus said and did in the past?
Remembering what Jesus said and did strengthens our trust in him. It helps us to remember how much our Lord truly loves us. It also helps to prepare us to be Jesus’ messengers whenever he gives us the opportunities.

If you have any questions about the Word of God we studied in this lesson please contact Pastor Greg Tobison. You can send your questions to