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Waiting for the verdict

John 21:1-25

Abraham Solomon (British, 1823 - 1862). A distraught family waits for the verdict to exonerate their loved one outside a courtroom.

The book “The Trial” by Franz Kafka shows us a man’s life falling apart. It tells the story of Josef K., a man arrested and prosecuted by a remote, inaccessible authority, with the nature of his crime revealed neither to him nor to the reader. He just walks around knowing he is guilty but not understanding what the guilt is - he is trying to understand the feeling. This is our culture today. waiting, expecting, knowing there is a verdict, but not understanding it.


1Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: 2Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

4Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

5He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

6He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

7Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. 8The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. 9When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”11So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus Reinstates Peter

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?”He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.18Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”19Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

20Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?”

22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.”23Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

24This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.



1) I honestly wonder why Peter ran to Jesus v. 7

  • From His experience of seeing and hearing parables of Jesus' grace had he come to expect it at this point?

  • Peter is so often the first to do things. He is the leader in receiving Jesus' reception: 10Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”11So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.

  • 99.99% of the whole known world did not know who Jesus was until the age of 30. Why? Even then, he came as a baby, rode on a donkey, died the death of a much was done supernaturally, but un-extravagantly. This 'reception meal' seems so unextravegant. His friends were hungry. He had food ready for them. Peter seemed to know Jesus would have food ready for him, spiritual food.

2) Why is it important to Jesus that Peter be asked 3 times?

  • if a servant, child, employee is doing their best work when no one is looking it shows their service is from the heart.

3) In the text we can see that stewardship of this life is defined as...feeding sheep

  • We all have different roles (Rom 12, 1 Cor 12, etc.)

  • We all can expect that following will have different outcomes (22Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.)

4) What Jesus is doing here is a microcosm of what he will do for us on the final day of all of history

  • "my food is to do the will of him who sent me" - as Jesus did his Father's will, he was receiving his father's bread as he fed bread to his disciples.

  • He was painting a picture of FUTURE REALITY in the kingdom and our FUTURE reality of his glorifying work for every believer at the end of time - Luke 12:37

  • Jesus washes each of his disciples feet personally this was not merely an object lesson - GO AND SERVE (though it was John 13:15), it is what he would do spiritually for them.

5) My spiritual burden is that "Yes, we feel 'called to serve' at the Village, but what does it look like practically and dependently to let Christ serve us?

  • Listening to his Word.

  • Feeding his sheep

  • Following, knowing where it could lead.

  • Letting Christ serve us a meal is a foretaste of our future reality.

  • We have a great identity statement: "we are an intimate, intergenerational, intercultural church that thrives on serving and learning together", but this vision and call of our church will not be sustained if we cannot "taste and see" Him serving us. We see this:

  • Lord's supper

  • Baptism


NOTE: The Spirit often speaks in community. For that reason, I value group discernment on a text. The purpose of this exercise is to find the "gold gospel nugget" of the text for today. Thank you for your unique perspective and allowing the Spirit to speak through you.

A) Of all that thoughts above on the text, including your own, which 1 or 2 points speak to you most? And why?

B) I am curious about your perspective on how this passage connects with:

  • your story, current experience or sense of what God has been speaking to you about personally.

  • our broader culture today

  • other times, places and Scriptures

C) What do you learn in a fresh way about God, people or life that you could aspire to, ask for or act on?

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