21. Appearances

Jesus appears to seven of his disciples who had gone fishing on Lake Tiberias (also called "the sea of Galilee") (21:1-14).

Later on, Jesus appeared to us along the shore of Lake Tiberius. This is how it happened. Simon Peter, Thomas (the Twin), Nathanael (from Cana in Galilee), my brother James and I (sons of Zebedee), and two other disciples of Jesus were there. Peter announced, "I'm going out fishing."

"We'll go with you," the rest of us said. So we got into a boat and went out to fish, but didn't catch a thing all night long.

Early the following morning, Jesus was standing on the shore, but we didn't recognize him. He called out to us, "Hey there! Did you catch anything?"

"No," we shouted back.

So he told us, "Cast your net to the starboard, and you'll get a catch."

We did what he said and caught so many fish that we were unable to hoist the net into the boat.

Lake Tiberias

Suddenly I realized who the man on shore was. I told Peter, "It's the Lord!" When Simon Peter heard this, he wrapped his outer garment around him (he had stripped for work), and plunged into the lake. Since we were not far from land (about a hundred yards), the rest of us followed in the boat, dragging the net full of fish.

When we landed, we saw a charcoal fire with fish cooking on it. There was some bread as well.

"Bring me some of the fish you've just caught," Jesus said to us.

So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net onto the sand. It was full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three to be exact. Even though the catch was so large, the net had not ripped apart.

Jesus said to us, "Come, let's have breakfast." Not a one of us ventured to ask, "Who are you?" because we were all sure it was the Lord. Jesus went over and picked up the bread and handed it to us. He did the same with the fish. This was the third time Jesus appeared to us after he was raised from the dead.

A friendly camel

Jesus questions Peter three times about his love for him (to counter his three denials), and charges Peter to take care of his flock (21:15-19).

When we had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"

"Yes, Lord," replied Peter, "you know that I love you."

"Then feed my lambs."

Jesus asked a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

"Yes, Lord," replied Peter, "you know that I love you."

"Then be a shepherd to my sheep," said Jesus.

Yet a third time Jesus asked, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?"

Peter was distressed that Jesus had asked him three times if he loved him. "Lord," he said to Jesus, "you know everything; you know that I love you."

Jesus replied, "Then feed my sheep."

"Be a shepherd to my sheep"

"I tell you the truth, when you were a young man you used to dress yourself and go anywhere you wanted. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands so someone else can dress you and carry you where you'd rather not go." (Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would bring honor to God.) Then he said to Peter, "Follow me!"

Jesus speaks of me, the disciple whom he loved (21:20-23).

When Peter turned around and saw that I (the disciple who leaned back against Jesus during supper and asked, "Lord, who is it that will betray you?") was following them, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what will happen to John?"

Jesus replied, "Even if he should remain alive until I return, what difference would that make to you?" So the rumor spread among the early believers that I would not die.

But Jesus did not say that I would not die. He simply said, "Even if he should remain alive until I return, what difference would that make to you?"

Final words (21:24-25)

Jesus did many other things. If all of them were written down, I do not think the world itself would be large enough to hold all the books that would have to be written.

I have now told you the story of my friend Jesus. I wrote it all down and you can be sure that I am telling the truth.

"Feed my lambs"