By Tyson Thorne

October 17, 2019

John 55 Large

Jesus appears once more to the disciples near the sea of Tiberias (one of my favorite places in the world, by the way). In his post-resurrection manner, he disguises himself again, After a long night of fishing, during which they caught nothing, Jesus shows up on the beach. This scene is a bit of levity after such a hard journey that didn't end at the cross, but at the empty tomb. From the shore Jesus yells to the disciples in the boat, "caught any fish?" knowing that they hadn't. He advises them to throw the net off the starboard side.

Of course, they caught almost more than they could haul in to shore, which tips off John that the beachcomber is really Jesus. John tells Peter who, true to character, girds up what little clothing he has on and steps off the boat into the water and wades to shore. The others haul the boat and fishing nets to the beach and great their Lord. Jesus is already cooking breakfast over a charcoal fire. Anyone who has cooked over charcoal before knows that charcoal takes time to get hot enough to cook over, so it seems Jesus has already done something miraculous. Not to mention the bread and fish he has prepared is reminiscent of his most memorable miracle, the feeding of the five thousand.

This is the third and final post-resurrection appearance of Jesus in the Gospel of John, and it is a necessary visit by the Lord. There are loose ends that need to be tied up in regard to Peter. The disciple who once boasted, "Even if they all fall away, I will not," (Matthew 26.33) had denied even knowing Jesus three times the night before Jesus was crucified. You might expect things to get awkward, and they did. Jesus asks Peter three times, once for each denial, if he loves him "more than these". I can imagine Jesus stretching out his hand indicating the other disciples. Each time Peter answer's affirmatively, "Lord, I love you". Each time Jesus gives Peter more responsibility, from "feed" the infant lambs, to "shepherd the sheep" and finally to "feed the sheep". Then Jesus gives a prediction about Peter's future that is bitter-sweet. Jesus tells Peter a little bit about the manner in which Peter will die, but the good news in it is that Peter will die because he won't deny Jesus. Not again — never again.

Breakfast now over, Jesus and Peter go for a stroll while many of the other disciples likely tended to the fish they caught. As they walked Peter noticed John was following them. Since the subject of Peter's death had come up, he casually asked Jesus about John's death. Jesus ends this line of questioning essentially saying, "that's none of your business, focus on your relationship with me." That is the heart of what Jesus said, but what he actually said caused some error in thinking among some followers and that confusion still exists today. Jesus stated: "If I want him to live until I come back, what concern is that of yours? You follow me!” John tells us that some believed that John would not die, which we know wasn't true since he is now dead, but the Mormon church still teaches that John is alive and roaming earth based on this passage. Old lies never die.

John now moves to conclude his work (21.24). He eloquently states the trustworthiness of his account while noting that he didn't tell the whole story. In point of fact, John says, there aren't enough books in the world to recount everything Jesus did and said even though his life was cut tragically short. On a personal note, I think Jesus forgiving and restoring Peter to office makes a perfect pending. It shows that this man, Jesus, who may have grown up in humble settings and lived obediently to his mother in the end reveals his kingly status and authority over all things, including love and forgiveness.

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