Passover to Pentecost – John 21

Passover to Pentecost – John 21    Week 5 Day 4

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” John 21: 5 (NIV)

This entire chapter is about Peter.  It is in the Counting of the Omer time period and before Jesus’ ascension.  I am going to set this on the day of the “second” Passover.  One reason is it was the full moon, they could see to fish.  My second reason is Peter “missed” the first one; between cutting off ears, running away, and the three denials at the High Priest house Peter needed a mulligan.  What better way to do it than on the “second Passover.”

It could be that Peter was choosing his fishing business over his apostolic calling, and this was not going to be a onetime thing.    The list of names in 21:2 is familiar but it was not all of the remaining Eleven.  As for Jesus’s command all of the disciples should have been somewhere in Galilee.

Much has been written on the number of fish caught (153), the different words for love used by Jesus (agape) and Peter (phileo), and the variations of the questions.  I want to focus on the public denial and the public reinstatement, and that Jesus was giving Peter a second chance.

Restorations With The Resurrection

The Resurrection was a powerful time when Jesus announced to all Creation that He had taken back what was rightfully His.  As I said in Post #4 those contacts were not accidents and in this post, I will focus on the restorations that occurred in the first glorious hours and then during the rest of the time leading to Pentecost.  Jesus as the Master Healer knew what His followers had just been through, some of them had faired better in their testing than others so Jesus very carefully touched those lives at the point of need.  And that is the first important point, Jesus went to His followers and healed hurts from a traumatic event.  He did not go to the masses of people who had ushered Him into town on a donkey or the ones who marveled at His teaching in the Temple or even to Simon the Leper His dinner host.  He went to specific people in a specific order to manifest the needs in their lives for healing.  After reading and rereading the chapters on the Resurrection I realized that not only did He mean to heal them but that they represented future believers and the needs we would have.

Mary Magdalene

Mary Magdalene is the stunned believer whose paradigm of the world is shattered and is now going on natural instinct and feelings.  She was doing her best and was determined to take care of a body that had risen and no longer needed her help.  In fact, she did not even recognize Jesus at first.  But Jesus called her BY NAME to revive her flame and have her go to others to awaken them from their hurts.

John (the beloved)

John’s tender heart and love for Jesus was crushed as he accepted the responsibility for Mary, Jesus’ mother, and watched his hope die during the darkness of the cross.  He had stopped believing, the words of the women seemed nonsense but he ran to the tomb hoping with each step for a miracle.  The silent emptiness of a tomb was that miracle, it was what he needed to believe but his timidity required someone else to lead the way into his healing.


Peter, the (little) rock, the professor of the divinity of Jesus, the one who followed Jesus to trial and faced his own trial and failed as he denied his relationship with Him.  He had chosen to separate himself from Jesus but he knew his lie was a lie and he was desperate to find Jesus again.  He ran at the hope of finding Jesus but was left wondering by an empty grave.  Even though Luke and Paul both mention that Jesus met with Peter alone it is not recorded what was said or what happened.  This is as it should be because some things are not to be made public.  But Peter’s fall was so great that it took ridicule from the disciples (implied in Luke) and three more meetings before Peter could answer Jesus’ three questions and accept his calling again to “tend the sheep.”


Cleopus and the other unnamed disciple who identified as part of the group and had associated with them during the hours of the darkest crisis were now going the wrong way.  (Emmaus is the wrong direction from Galilee.)  He was not up to take Judas’ position or one of the “Seven Deacons” but he was around to tell Luke about his story when Luke was doing his research.  This story even made the add-on text at the end of Mark.  Possibly his wife (Mary wife of Clopas) was at the tomb (John 19:25) with the other women.  I guess my point is Jesus took the time to personally talk to him and give him the academic explanation to cure his slow heart.

The Ten

Hiding in a locked room celebrating a Jewish feast we find the handpicked instruments that Jesus was to use to change the world.  I can count but Thomas was not there the first night that Jesus appeared and Judas, if he were alive, would not have been welcomed.  How many were actually there? It could have been twelve or it could have been 120 we do not know.  So I am going to handle this set of people differently.

This group of Eleven had run from Jesus, just three nights before, leaving Him with an angry mob.  Their plans of kingdoms and positions of authority had changed with a Roman cross.  Fear had kept all but two from going to the tomb when their trusted sisters were proclaiming a risen Jesus.  Mary Magdalene and Peter were ignored when they claimed personal visitation.  Still, Jesus’ first words to them were “Peace be with you.”  His fallen leaders needed peace and a good rebuke for their lack of faith so that is what they got but they also were given the assurance that He was alive and not a ghost.  They touched Jesus and ate with Him.  More importantly, He breathed on them the Holy Spirit and a way to have peace – to forgive sins of those that had just offended them.

The other group is the faithful men and women who had walked with and taken care of Jesus.  Maybe some were from the seventy-two He had sent out!  But now it was a whole group of people that had confused frightened leaders and were leaning to old religious customs and not on Jesus.  He had come to give the whole group PEACE.


Thomas the future apostle to India was not at Jesus’ first visitation.  He, in true form of the other disciples, refused to believe words that sounded like nonsense.  I hope he was with his family for the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread but the fact is that he had left the group during a time when you might have expected everyone to be together.  So Jesus shows Himself again (during the meal to end the Feast) proclaims “Peace” and sets about to restore a prodigal son and chosen leader.  It must be noted here that they still have not left for Galilee.

The Seven in the Boat

John in his Gospel points out that this was the third time that Jesus had shown Himself to His disciples.  The good news is that at least they were in Galilee.  The seven were Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael from Cana, James, John, and two other disciples.  For editorial sake only let us name the “other two” as Joseph and Matthias the men who were selected to take Judas’ place.  Some literature suggests that Peter was not just fishing that day but he was going to make it his profession again.  Not only is the cast of characters important but so is the fact they caught nothing.

It seems that the only one who really recognized Jesus was John.  Peter had not and the others were afraid to ask who He was when they reached the shore.  He met their physical needs by having breakfast ready for them and even though the three questions were addressed to Peter, I will guess all of them were trying to answer those questions.  Jesus will give additional support when it is needed and apparently these guys had to have more quality time with the Lord.

The 500

Paul in 1 Corinthians 15: 6 is the only writer to mention this meeting.  Matthew may refer to it in his gospel but there were probably many unrecorded meetings.  Who could these five hundred have been?  How many had been part of the seventy-two missionaries Jesus had sent out?  Had they been part of the 9000 men who had been fed on those two special days?  Had they followed Him through Nain when He raised the dead son?  This list could go on for a while but several Gospels make the point that people still doubted when they saw Jesus during these forty days of the Resurrection.  Even in this doubt Jesus met with them, fed them, and taught on His Kingdom.

How many of these people joined the Apostles in the Upper Room for prayer and so were counted in the 120 on the day of Pentecost no one records that.  Were the other 380 in the crowd when Peter preached the first post-Jesus sermon?  We do know that people professed to have been there because Paul says most of them were still alive when he wrote to the Corinthians.  So His presence must have healed the doubt and strengthened their lives.


This should be His half-brother James, the author of the epistle and the head of the Jerusalem Church.  Jesus knew he had a job to do but the only mention of Jesus’ brothers was of them mocking Him about Passover or being with Mary trying to retrieve her “crazy” son.  Imagine having Jesus as an older brother!  What must the family thought when He turned water into wine and started having crowds of people following after Him to be healed.  This private conversion did the work because in those ten days from the Ascension to Pentecost Mary His mother and His brothers are listed as those present in the upper room constantly praying.  So for those living in the shadows of family members Jesus wants to meet you in the Resurrection and give you a job to do.

Reflections On The Resurrection #3 – Galilee

About Resurrection Day Mark and Matthew record that the angels reminded the women that the Disciples were to return to Galilee and that Jesus would see them there.  Matthew also adds in 28:10 that Jesus Himself told the women to relay that message to His brothers (disciples) and then in verse 16 he records that they meet Jesus at the assigned mountain.  WHY GALILEE?

The urgency with which Jesus and the angels told the women did not seem to be imparted to the disciples.  Those reminders were seemingly ignored as they hid behind locked doors and had dinner.  That has always puzzled me until I realized that they were celebrating the Feast of the Unleavened Bread which according to the Law is exactly what they were supposed to do.  They had not understood that Jesus’ death had fulfilled the Law.

These reminders came with the idea that Jesus had not only predicted His death but had made plans for His resurrection.  He even had named the exact location for this reunion – a particular mountain.

For the disciples Galilee was home, a familiar place where they would have felt safe.  This is where it had all started the feeding of thousands, walking on water, and all of the healings.  However it may represent a pattern of something that Jesus will sometimes do with His ministers before they are about to be sent out on their “Great Commission.”  This pattern is clearly set in the Old Testament and is now being established in the New.  It is going into the wilderness.

Jesus after His baptism went to the wilderness and Paul also spent time in one (Arabia) before he started his work for the Lord.  Old Testament examples would have been the Exodus and Elijah traveling to the mountain.  Another common factor here is the number 40 that is associated with a time of testing.

In the forty days from Easter to the Ascension Jesus met, taught, and fed His disciples.  Even though we do not know the sequence of the events John 21 is at the Sea of Galilee.  I will note here that the Ascension did take place near Bethany (House of Poverty) a short distance from Jerusalem so the disciples spent some of that time traveling out of the “wilderness.”  I have come to think of this as a “restart” and not a redo for the disciples as they had been prepared for their work before the Resurrection had started.