John 21:1-14 – Spirits and Dead Men Don’t Make Breakfast


John 21:1–2 (ESV) — 1 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.

The disciples seem to be in weird state of flux after Jesus’ resurrection.
·  After His resurrection, they spent eight plus days hiding out in Jerusalem.
·  And now we see at least seven of them have made their way back to Galilee.
o   We don’t know where the other four are.

What are they doing?
·  They don’t appear to be advancing the Kingdom.
·  Sadly, they kind of look like how we live our Christian lives.
·  And as profound and significant as seeing the bodily risen Jesus Christ was, there is far more to following Jesus that profound and significant experiences.
·  And they certainly would have known this too, I suspect.

It almost appears as if they decided to return back to their normal lives.
·  After all, Peter, James and John were in the fishing business together before Jesus showed up (Luke 5:10).
·  And now here they are again – fishing together.

But Matthew may shed some light on the disciples actions.
·  Matthew 26:32 (ESV) — 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.”
o   Before He is arrested, Jesus tells them he will meet them in Galilee.
·  Matthew 28:7 (ESV) — 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.”
o   And at the empty grave, we are told that an angel also told them about a meeting in Galilee.
·  So, “There is no evidence that Peter and the others had gone to Galilee in order to fish [take up fishing as a career again]. The most reasonable assumption is that they went in obedience to the Lord’s command” – D.A. Carson.

Yet, D.A. Carson points out that, “…this fishing expedition and the dialogue that ensues do not read like the lives of men on a Spirit-empowered mission. It is impossible to imagine any of this taking place in Acts, after Pentecost.”
·  I want to point this out because it highlights once again the significance of Jesus’ words in John 17 concerning the Holy Spirit.
·  John 16:7 (ESV) — 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.

In John 16, Jesus went on to list all the things the Spirit would do:
·  Convict world concerning sin (vs. 8)
·  Convict world concerning righteousness (vs. 8)
·  Convict world concerning judgment (vs. 8)
·  Guide disciples into truth (vs. 13)
·  Declare to disciples the “things that are to come” (vs. 13)
·  Glorify Jesus by declaring Jesus’ work and teaching (vs. 14)

One need only read Acts to see the impact of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the disciples and believers in general.
·  At Pentecost, the “what’s next” arrived and the world was never the same.
·  The disciples no longer had to sit around, hiding and waiting to encounter the risen Jesus.

But, oddly, we can sometimes live like the pre-Pentecost disciples.
·  It’s as if we are waiting for the “what’s next”.
·  The “what’s next” has already begun!
·  So what’s our excuse?
o    “C’mon, son!” – Ed Lover.


John 21:3–8 (ESV) — 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. 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. 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.

The setting for this third bodily appearance of Jesus is a fishing trip on the Sea of Galilee.
·  They may have been waiting in obedience for the “what’s next”, but at least they weren’t lazing around.
·  And Beasley-Murray reminds us that even though Jesus had been raised, the disciples still needed to eat.

John tells us they had been fishing all night long.
·  But, they had caught nothing.
·  It was common at that time to fish at night, “That way, fish caught before daybreak could be sold fresh in the morning” – Kostenberger.
·  This scenario was very similar to an encounter they had with Jesus at the beginning of His ministry.
·  Luke 5:4–6 (ESV) — 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.

But unlike Luke 5, this time Jesus was unrecognizable on the shore, not speaking to a crowd from Peter’s boat.
·  He speaks a term of endearment to the seven disciples in the boat – “paidion” (children).
o   This would have been quite weird for a stranger.
·  The word conveys that the speaker is “on terms of fatherly intimacy w. those whom he addresses” – BDAG.
·  He then asks if they had caught any fish – “do you have any fish” (vs. 5).
·  The fishing trip then plays out like it did in Luke 5.

Interestingly, we then see an example of what we observed about Peter and John last week.
·  John as a “perceptive witness” – Bauckham.
o   He deduces the man on the shore must be Jesus – “It is the Lord” (vs. 7).
·  Peter engaging in “active service” – Richard Bauckham.
o   He “threw himself into the sea” at 100 yards out (vs. 7).
·  “In characteristic fashion, the beloved disciple displays spiritual discernment, while Peter exhibits decisive action” – Kostenberger.
·  “The beloved disciple exhibits quick insight, and Peter quick action” – D.A. Carson.
·  And then it was time to have breakfast.


John 21:9–14 (ESV) — 9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 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. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

A quick rabbit trail – we earlier alluded to Luke 5 and the similarity between these two fishing trips.
·  However, there is at least one significant difference that John points out to us.
·  Luke tells us in Luke 5:6 that, “they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking.
·  John tells us that in this post-resurrection fishing trip, “although there were so many, the net was not torn” (vs. 11).
·  Given how John writes as the “perceptive witness”, I think he wants us to see something here.
·  My best guess is that we have a foretaste of resurrection life in the Kingdom – restoration, re-creation, things put right, things not breaking.
·  And/or, “This may suggest that the gospel net will never break, that there is no limit to the number of converts it catches” – D.A. Carson.

So the disciples, the six and Peter, made it back to shore and they see that Jesus has breakfast ready to go.
·  Jesus asks Peter to finish hauling the net full of fish up onto the beach and bring some of the fish when he comes back.
·  Peter must have been a strong dude.

And as the remaining narrative unfolds, the behavior of the disciples comes off as very awkward.
·  It seems obvious that Jesus was expecting them and prepared breakfast for them.
·  Yet they appear to all be standing around dumbfounded.
·  Jesus has to speak with words what His actions already conveyed – “Come and have breakfast” (vs. 12).

Furthermore, John shares with us the strange inner dialogue the disciples were having.
·  They all knew this to be the risen Jesus.
·  They had seen Him twice before.
·  Yet, John tells us that although “They knew it was the Lord” “none of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’” (vs. 12).
·  In other words, they knew it was Jesus.
·  But they still wanted to ask if it was Jesus.
·  What is up with that?

We know that although His resurrected body looked the same, it also looked different.
·  Mary, for example, was staring right at Him and didn’t recognize Him.
o   She thought He was the gardener.
·  So “What is plain is that the Jesus whom they were meeting in his Easter glory was living in a different mode of existence from that of his former earthly conditions” – Beasley-Murray.

Plus we are still dealing with a huge category shift with the Jewish notions of resurrection and Messiah.
·  Something we just spent 12 weeks or so learning about.
·  These shifts probably took a while to sink in.
·  Not to mention that Jesus died.
o   And dead men don’t bodily rise from the dead and cook breakfast.

D.A Carson sums up this strange encounter as follows:
·  “But whether because they could see Jesus was not simply resuscitated (like Lazarus), but appeared with new powers, or because they were still grappling with the strangeness of a crucified and resurrected Messiah, or because despite the irrefutable power of the evidence presented to them resurrection itself seemed strange, they felt considerable unease—yet suppressed their question because they knew the one before them could only be Jesus” – D.A. Carson.

All of this serves as a reminder to us about progress in our understanding of Jesus.
·  It doesn’t come at once.
·  Yet, it is something that we should be constantly pursuing.

Mary Jo Sharp says this:
·  We profess to follow the greatest Teacher in the world.
·  How can we claim to follow the greatest Teacher in the world and not love to learn?

John then finishes the narrative by showing the bodily risen Jesus serving breakfast to His disciples.
·  And John, in effect says, spirits and dead men don’t make breakfast.
·  This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead” (John 21:14).
·  Jesus is not dead and He is not a spirit.
·  He is bodily raised from the dead.
·  And He is serving breakfast.