Well, good morning! We did it! We stuck with it, and we made it to the end of John! Whew! This was a long and hard study, and I commend you all for your commitment and perseverance in your study of God’s Word!
September 20, 2012. That was the day we began. We have followed Jesus from his baptism, through his public ministry, to his crucifixion, heard witness of his resurrection, and seen him empower his disciples to go forth. What else could we possibly see? What we see in chapter 21 is John wrapping up some “loose ends!”
Remember back in John 18? Something happened with Peter. Peter had denied Christ three times, as prophesied by Jesus. We talked the last time I was up here about how crushed Peter must have been. We talked about how we are like Peter (more specifically, I told you how much I think I am like Peter), how we mess up, fall short, sin, and can feel crushed and hopeless. Remember how I showed you in Mark that the angel told the women to go to Peter specifically and tell him? So, how does John take care of showing Jesus’ grace and redemption, specifically of Peter? He tells us about a breakfast date.
Peter and six other disciples decide to go fishing. I don’t know why. There is some discussion in the commentaries over whether this was right or wrong for Peter to do this. I don’t have an answer to that. What I am drawn to here in this story, is what happened after their boat came back to shore, not having caught a single fish! They pull up to “shore” and there is a man there asking if they caught anything. Imagine if you had spent an entire night fishing, casting the net, pulling it back in, casting the net, pulling it back in . . . casting the net, pulling it back in, again and again for the whole night. You’d be pretty exhausted, and maybe somewhat defeated. These were men who used to do this for a living, but they were about three years out of practice! They tell him no, we don’t have any, and he tells them to cast their nets on the right side. “Okay, but I don’t see what difference that is going to make!”
Lo, and behold, fish in the net! And not just a few, but 153! And not 153 small ones, but 153 large fish! Immediately, John recognizes that this has happened before, and says “It is the Lord!” What does Peter do? He throws on his outer garment, and jumps out of the boat! Wait! That’s happened before too! There is great symmetry, a bookending to our story.
We read this week in Luke chapter 5 that when Jesus called Peter and John, they were just returning from a fruitless night’s fishing, and were given so many fish the nets could not hold them. John is the last surviving of the original disciples. His is the last Gospel written. He may be assuming his readers are somewhat familiar with the synoptic gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.
So much of what we see in this last chapter, we have seen a version of before. The empty catch, made full. Peter leaving the boat to be with Jesus. Jesus serving fishes and loaves. Peter being asked a question three times. There it is. This is where John wraps up that end! Peter has denied Christ, and here Christ is giving him the chance, denial for denial, to affirm his faith and commitment to Christ. Three times he is asked, and three times he answers, and we see him called again, on the shore of the sea, to follow Christ. When Jesus tells Peter he is going to die (another thing similar to what we have seen before. Remember when Peter said he would die for him and Jesus said where I am going you cannot follow?),
Peter then proceeds to ask about John. Jesus tells him “It makes no difference what will happen to John! Follow me!” Jesus encourages and teaches them that above all else, no matter what, even when you fail, follow him! Does that bring you hope? Does that encourage you today?
Yesterday was a hard day for my daughter and I. I still have those moments doing the homeschool thing where I think I have lost my mind, and unfortunately she is probably pushed to the point where she thinks I have lost my mind too! I failed yesterday. I failed to show her Christ yesterday, in that moment. And yet, that afternoon and evening, she wanted to cuddle. She wanted to tell Daddy about what she learned in Math (which was the lesson I went crazy on! Not so great when your husband is a math teacher!) She wanted to ask me questions at bedtime about God. Why does God make the weather? Where did God come from? She knew, in spite of my failure, that Jesus is bigger, that I desire to abide in Him, and that I can be trusted to tell her the truths about her awesome God! She sees me fail, but she also sees Jesus is bigger than my failure, and he is powerful and faithful to forgive. God reminded me of that just as I was typing this out. It’s the cracks in the façade that let the light shine through more!
Peter failed! Lots! But he trusted more each time! He did not run away and give up; he still leapt out of the boat, and rushed to his Lord’s side. Do you do that? When you fail, do you run away, or run to God? Please, run to him. His grace is sufficient.
So, whew. How, then, can I conclude our study in the book of John? Well, back on September 20th, I took you through the first 18 verses of Chapter 1. I broke up the prologue, and tried to share my excitement at the beautiful picture John was painting here. We have seen all of this fleshed out in the chapters that followed. This prologue serves as a “Before you start, you should remember . . .”, but I think it also serves as a great summary. So I will conclude with this:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.9 The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.12 But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.