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Community on the Beach - John 21:1-14

Posted on April 22, 2018

Community Building on the Beach

John 21:1- 14

Scripture Reading

Romans 2:4

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?


  • Our God is one who gives us free will – choice
  • Our God is a personal, loving God. Never forces us to do what He wants us to do
  • But He is there to receive us and take care of all of our needs if we will come to Him just as we are on His terms!!

Illustration: The Prodigal Son

  • The verse we just read, talks about four aspects of God and how He relates to us
    • Kindness. Forbearance (an abstaining from the enforcement of a right), Patience (longsuffering), Goodness.

Background / Context

  • The main section of John’s Gospel ended with his summary statement in John 20:30-31. These verses are the purpose and main goal for his writing this important book

John 20:30-31

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name

  • Some say the book is over but just as John wrote an introduction or prologue in John 1:1-18; he is now writing an epilogue to his story.
  • In John 21:1-14, Jesus answers the question on the minds of the disciples. Who will take care of us after Jesus returns to His Father?
    • They now faced taking care of themselves for the first time since deciding to follow Jesus
    • He promised to meet their needs
    • In this passage, as Jesus meets with them in community, He is teaching them not to depend on themselves or each other but depend on God alone
    • He does that through two powerful illustrations as we will see in John 21:1-14

Purpose: Every Christ follower can find joy in the depth of Christ centered relationships

Transition: Let’s look at how this reuniting of the relationship between Jesus and His disciples unfolds;

The Rendezvous with Jesus

 John 21:1 – 3

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

  • The desiredplace
    • “After these things” – an unspecified amount of time after the events in Chapter 20
    • The disciples were told to go to Galilee, in the mountains where Jesus would meet them according to Matthew 20:10, 16
    • Two times we see the phrase “Jesus revealed”. He must have been unrecognizable until He revealed Himself to whom He desired.
    • The Sea of Tiberias lets us know that this location was the Sea of Galilee. This sea went by different names at different times in history
    • The eleven disciples must not have traveled together as we see in verse 2 because seven are listed there.
      • We assume the two unnamed disciples were Andrew and Philip because they had close to ties to Peter and appear in other passages together in the list with these same disciples
  • They were not where they supposed to be to meet Jesus
    • Some believe Simon Peter got tired of waiting on the mountain and decided impulsively to go fishing.
    • This was not recreational fishing but go back to his old ways, his familiar lifestyle.
    • Maybe he had bills to pay. He had a family he wanted to take care of who he missed dearly because he was following Jesus
    • The defaultposition
      • The disciples head back to what was familiar as the default place when everything went south
        • When trials and tribulations come, it is easy to run to the comforts of the past life. Sometimes it is the past of sin and other times it is the past of comfort, apathy, and selfishness. Wanting to do what we want to do to make us feel good
        • There is a price to be paid for that if it is not where God wants you and I to go.
  • Jesus predicted the disciples would abandon Him

John 16:32

32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me.

  • Jesus knew what these guys were made of. He knows what we are made of. When it gets hot in the kitchen, many of us want to get out of the heat. We retreat to what we know and what we think is safe and sure. But most of the time, this is where God is pushing us to new steps of faith, walking with certainty in Him as we face the unknown. That is an exciting place to be.
  • So, the fishing was about leaving behind God’s work and going back to try to take care of themselves with their own abilities. They thought that since Jesus was leaving it was all on them again to take care of themselves
  • We get that idea because in verse 3 it says “they got into the boat”. Notice the definite article “the”. It was a specific boat and it may have even been Peter’s boat from when he was a fisherman. Remember that most of the disciples Jesus calls are fisherman.
  • Jumping ahead in the story, notice what Jesus says in John 21:15 to Peter

John 21:15

5 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”

  • Jesus, as usual, at some point in the relationship gets to the heart of the matter. Do you love me more than your boat, your fishing nets, the fish, your former way of life?
  • Jesus is making the call here to Peter to stay committed for his entire life to the work of God no matter what comes his way

Luke 9:57-62

57 As they were going along the road, someone said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” 58 And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” 59 To another he said, “Follow me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 And Jesus said to him, “Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” 61 Yet another said, “I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” 62 Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

  • Jesus is making that call to us again today
    • It may not require moving out of your home and moving across the world. I don’t believe He is calling the majority of people to do that.
    • It does require leaving your old life of sin and rejection of God and His will behind for good, once and for all
    • It could mean God stretching you and moving you out of your comfort zone to invest in the needs of others for eternal purposes
      • What are you called to today? How are you using your vocation, your retirement as a means to make a difference for God in others’ lives?
      • Plenty of opportunities here with Children’s Sunday ministry, Awana, Youth Group, and other ministries. Getting involved in being a leader
      • It may mean for the first time, you will sign up and get involved in something as simple as Serve Sunday.
      • It may mean giving more financially to the work of God here at PVBC
      • It may mean volunteering in the community so that you can be a light for Jesus
      • It may be reaching out to your neighbors now that the weather is getting nice and inviting them over for a cookout or a meal
      • God wants to stretch us so that we can live with the eternal perspective in view daily
  • In verse 3, we see that the other disciples followed Peter’s lead and went fishing with him.

John 21:3

They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

  • As fisherman, they knew the best time to go and catch fish was at night. As experienced fisherman, they caught nothing
  • Have you ever tried to do something you knew you shouldn’t do and no matter how hard you tried it just simply failed? You were stubborn and proud and you were just going to do what you wanted to do no matter what anyone thought or said including God?
  • When we try to depend on our intelligence, our brawn, our strength, our own abilities not surrendered to God, we will not be accomplishing God’s purposes but our purposes

Quote: “The disciples unsuccessful experience at something they knew how to do well was a lesson from the Lord about their inability to go back to their former lives.” – John MacArthur

  • It is only in rare cases that God takes you back to your former life
  • There was nothing wrong with fishing. It was a respectable vocation for these disciples, but God called them not to fish for fish but to fish for men.
  • As a Christ follower, you will never be happy doing anything else besides what God wants you to do. You will never be happy outside of God’s will
  • Mark Lowery says that if God calls you to be a ditch digger that it would be a step down to become the President of the United States. God has a purpose and a plan for where He plants us and it is up to you and I to bloom where God wants to plant us.
  • You and I will only be fully satisfied and content when you are doing God’s will and following His calling in your life. Depending on ourselves apart from God is a tragic and miserable mistake.
  • Jesus, in preparation for their rendezvous with Jesus was already preparing the way through the three-year relationship He had with His disciples.
  • That is why living in community helps us to be and stay where God wants us to be for Him.

Application: May we enjoy immensely renewing past relationships

Transition: After a wasted night of fishing, with dawn coming, the disciples decide to head for shore.  Little did they know they would encounter the resurrected Jesus.

The Recognition of Jesus

 John 21:4-6

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

  • The familiarchallenge
    • Jesus is on shore; the disciples do not recognize Him at this point and He sends them back out to fish once again.
    • Notice in verse 5, Jesus mild rebuke as he highlights their failure on their fishing expedition.
      • He was basically saying to them and to us, “Do anything else that what I called you to do and you will fail”. John 15: 5 says “Apart from me you can do nothing.” He is speaking here of spiritual benefit, eternal values.
      • They probably thought, who is this guy telling us to go back out and fish some more
      • There was something in His voice of authority that caused them to listen
      • The catch was so big, they had trouble hauling it in.
      • The same Jesus who prevented the school of fish hitting their nets all night was the same Jesus who brought the school of fish directly into their nets now.
  • This is reminiscent of an earlier event when Jesus first called these men to be His disciples

Luke 5:1-7; 11

On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, 2 and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. 3 Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon's, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” 6 And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. 7 They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.

11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him

  • Jesus called the disciples and us to be “fishers of men.” This phrase was not invented by Jesus; it had been used for years by Greek and Roman teachers. To be a “fisher of men” in that day meant to seek to persuade men and “catch” them with the truth. A fisherman catches living fish, but when he gets them, they die. A Christian witness seeks to catch “dead fish” (dead in their sins), and when he or she “catches” them, they are made alive in Christ!
  • Now we can understand why Jesus had so many fishermen in the disciple band. Fishermen know how to work. They have courage and faith to go out “into the deep.” They have much patience and persistence, and they will not quit. They know how to cooperate with one another, and they are skilled in using the equipment and the boat. What examples for us to follow as we seek to “catch fish” for Jesus Christ!
  • We are indeed “fishers of men,” and there are “fish” all around us. If we obey His directions, we will catch the fish. - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 397). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
  • The full commitment

John 21:7-8

7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

  • John says to Peter “It is the Lord”.
  • Peter immediately puts his outer garment on (he probably was wearing his loincloth only due to the warmer temperatures in the spring) and jumps out of the boat to excited to see Jesus to help the others bring the fish to shore
  • Characteristically we see that John is the one who is quicker to perceive and understand what is going on but it is Peter who is quick to act!!
  • Notice the detail from John as an eyewitness to corroborate the event.
  • Peter is all in now with his relationship with Jesus. The disciples would be all in now in their commitment to the calling by Jesus for His kingdom work.
    • We need that community of believers around us to help stay focused and to have support when we succeed and when we fail in our Christian lives
    • Jesus is showing the disciples that as a group dependent upon God they can handle anything. He is reminding them that their faith in God will sustain them and the bond they have with one another.
    • They would need God and they would need each other going forward.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 - 12

9 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 27:6

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

The wounds from a lover are worth it; kisses from an enemy do you in. – The Message

Application: In the church family we are developing forever friends

Transition: We continue in this story God’s gradual prodding by His kindness to bring the disciples to repentance

The Relationship Renewed

 John 21:9

9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.

  • The food
    • Jesus, showing His ever-compassionate care for these wet, tired and starving disciples has some food ready for them to get breakfast started. They would bring more fish to the fish fry
    • Even when we are out of God’s will, we are never out of His care. Like the prodigal, God waits for us with open arms every day longing for us to come to Him and spend time with Him. He is always willing to restore any part of our broken relationship with Him
      • He is a humble God. Think about Jesus the creator of the universe willing to serve these disciples by washing their feet
      • Now He is serving them by cooking them breakfast
      • He is gently reminding them to let God meet their needs

Philippians 4:19

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 37:25

I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread.

  • The fellowship

John 21: 10-13

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish.

  • We continue to notice John’s sharing details in this story to show his eyewitness account
    • The net did not break
    • The 153 fish
      • There is no spiritual significance to the number 153
      • It may be as fisherman they were used to dividing up the fish to sell and that is what was occurring
      • It may be the utter shock of how many fish caused them to want to count it to see how miraculous it was
  • Jesus, in verse 12 calls the disciples to full fellowship with Him around a meal
    • They were guilty of disobedience, their desire to return to their old familiar life
    • But now they are awed by the supernatural resurrected presence of Jesus
    • They are uneasy around Him, uncertain and hesitant
    • Jesus has to literally feed them some food
    • They were thinking to themselves but stopped short of saying “Who are You?”
    • Jesus was teaching them in a loving and relational way that obedience will bring blessing. Following the ways of the Lord even though we do not know where that leads will bring us the greatest joy and contentment in life
      • Jesus was helping them overcome their fear of failure by teaching them to trust in the Lord
      • As we will see next week, Jesus will show them that God is the God of second, third, fifty and one hundred chances in His communing with mankind. God is always available for reconciliation and restoration if we are willing to repent from our sin.
      • This event settled in the minds of the disciples once and for all their calling to serve Jesus Christ unwaveringly to the end of their lives.
      • It is also a great reminder as John MacArthur puts it

Quote: “The Lord uses weak and sinful people to advance His kingdom work because there are no other kinds of people.” John MacArthur

  • John does not give any further details of the meal but moves in verse 14 to his summary statement.

John 21:14

14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

  • Three “invitations” stand out in John’s Gospel: “Come and see” (John 1:39); “Come and drink” (John 7:37); and “Come and dine” (John 21:12). How loving of Jesus to feed Peter before He dealt with his spiritual needs. He gave Peter opportunity to dry off, get warm, satisfy his hunger, and enjoy personal fellowship.
  • This is a good example for us to follow as we care for God’s people. Certainly, the spiritual is more important than the physical, but caring for the physical can prepare the way for spiritual ministry. Our Lord does not so emphasize “the soul” that He neglects the body. - Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 397). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Transition: This brings me back to the importance of relationship and living in community with one another as demonstrated in John’s story today.

  • The importance of our Connect Groups is already being evidenced in the short time we have transitioned to them
    • 25% increase in our attendance
    • More important than that, people are a part of it who haven’t been to our Sunday School hour in years.
    • Even better, the sharing, caring and praying is so rich
    • Three short examples of living in Christian community together
      • Zanki’s moving – two people from their Connect Groups helped in their move
      • After the meeting last Sunday night, a couple from our church took another member of their Connect Group out for dinner to get to know them
      • Anne Toth – Facebook post after a family gathered with friends for an Easter meal and blessed a family in their neighborhood with an Easter meal for them

“Overwhelming thankfulness. These kids are so grateful for the members of the congregation who blessed our family with this feast. In the midst of the dark valley our family is trudging through--thank you for being a beacon of hope and a representation of all the goodness and kindness in the world. A wonderful reflection of our Savior who died for us and defied death in his resurrection. Thank you for your support. We are blown away by your unexpected gift to us. Happy Easter”

Application: Are you enjoying the community and fellowship in our Connect Groups and Sunday School?

Transition: As we continue to build loving, strong, caring communities in our Connect Groups, Men’s Groups, Women Bible studies, wherever in our church, may we take that beyond our groups and share that community with new people who will join us at church and to the neighborhoods around the church and the neighbors around our houses. This is how we can lovingly win others to Jesus

Key Thought: Let’s celebrate the incredible value of relationships in the church family!!

Romans 2:4

Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?




Questions to Ponder This Week

  1. How important is this church family to you?
  2. Think of a time that someone in the church family has blessed you and take time to thank God for the people involved and for the blessing you have received.
  3. How can you come alongside someone in your Connect Group or the church family to help encourage them?

““Fellowship is a place of grace, where mistakes aren't rubbed in but rubbed out. Fellowship happens when mercy wins over justice.”  ― Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” ― C.S. Lewis

“Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So, one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.” ― A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God: The Human Thirst for the Divine