Setting of John 21:1-17

This is actually an attempt to demonstrate in our home school how to discuss the effect of setting in a story. We read John 21 this morning in our family devotions.

John sets the last chapter of his gospel by the sea of Tiberias, v.1. He notes Peter's companions on this post-resurrection fishing trip, v.2. He includes the detail that they were fishing at night, v.3. As experienced fishermen, they know that the night time is the right time to bring in the keepers. Even modern fishermen know this. However, their efforts were for naught. At dawn, they have nothing to show for their endeavor. Perhaps there is mist rising off the lake, because when Jesus calls out to them, they don't recognize him, v.4. His suggestion is the sort of advice non-fishermen would give, as if the fish don't sense the difference in net 10 feet to the other side. Yet, it's on the other side that the huge catch is landed. John emphasizes the size of the catch by noting the immense weight, so great that seven men couldn't land it at first. This happened at the beginning of their relationship with Jesus, as recorded by Luke 5:4-6, which jogged John's memory.

No longer was the mist or distance an impediment to identifying Jesus. The repeat miracle was sufficient. Peter had stripped down earlier, perhaps due to warm weather or to keep his clothes dry while helping haul in the fish, .7. Apparently he was a strong swimmer because he could swim with his garment on for 100 yards. He left the other six fishermen to row the boat in while holding onto the big catch, v.8.

They pulled up on the beach finding a cooking fire with fish and bread to eat. Jesus was providing physical nourishment but also symbolically provided for their livelihood v.9. Nevertheless, Jesus invites them to participate by contributing to the meal, v.10. Peter eagerly returned to the boat to drag in the haul, v.11. They weren't fishing for pleasure, they had been fishing for business. After Jesus' departure, their donations must have dried up a bit. They were trying to make money. Jesus blessed them with an over-abundance, so great it was noteworthy that the net hadn't broken. His departure was not the end of their meal ticket, but the continuation of the excitement of trusting Him for their needs.

He did provide for them. He fed them breakfast, v.12, 13. After their second encounter with him, they still weren't sure how to live in the light of his resurrection. Now, this was the third time, v.14, and he was establishing their faith.

Peter's betrayal of Jesus, the night before his crucifixion, was not a secret. John himself had witnessed the trial and probably knew what had happened with Peter. So, publicly, in front of the 6 other disciples, he restores Peter. It was humiliating, but redemptive at the same time. He also wants Peter to change his mindset from fishing to shepherding, vv. 15-17.


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