Don’t Go Back – John 21:1-14 ESV, Colin Munroe, Lead Pastor

Don’t Go Back

Prayer

John 21:1-14 (ESV)
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. 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. 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.

Vs. 1-2 set the stage – John 21:1 (ESV)
After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way.

After this – Appearing to the disciples twice – Thomas

  • The feast of Unleavened Bread is over – went home
  • Breathing on them – Receive the Holy Spirit
  • Commissioning them – “As the Father has sent Me, even so I am sending you.”
  • And gave them the ministry of forgiveness – Gospel
  • Jesus ministered to Thomas intimately

Jesus revealed Himself

  • AMP – let Himself be seen

Again

  • Aren’t you thankful for His patient and persistence

By the Sea of Galilee

  • This is where He told them to go and meet Him

He revealed Himself in this way

  • The Lord is so intimate with us and knows us so well, He comes and reveals Himself uniquely to us.

John 21:2 (ESV)

Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee (fishing partners), and two others of his disciples were together. (7)

John 21:3 (ESV)
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. (Luke 5)

“I am going fishing”

  • I am going back to what I know – It is so empty!
  • When we GO BACK to our old life and its ways it’s fruitless and empty. Even more so than before because we have taste the goodness, satisfaction, peace and contentment of God.
  • Much like the day Jesus revealed Himself to Peter and the others, calling them to leave their nets behind to follow Him and be fishers of men this was going to be a morning they would never forget.
  • ?What was Peter looking for? Purpose? Provision? Pleasure? Something to do to take his mind off things? What are we looking for when we go back to our old, familiar (I can do this), faithless ways?
  • Is there anything wrong with fishing? Of course not! The question is why is Peter not fishing for men? The Lord redirects our activities to fruitful efforts that have eternal value. ?What is He redirecting in you?
    • Often when we are walking in guilt, regret and shame we lose sight of Jesus and His calling. But Jesus, is so faithful to seek us out and reveal Himself to us in very intimate ways!
    • What we need at this moment is to be reminded of His presence, power and purpose.
    • That is what Jesus does here He reveals Himself, demonstrates His power (over creation) and reminds Peter of His purpose! Feed my sheep and take care of my lambs.

The other say – “We will go with you”

  • We have to steward our influence well.
  • It is said of parenting: “What you do in moderation they will do in excess.”
  • ?How are you leveraging the divinely appointed influence and favor the Lord has entrusted to you?
  • All of us are given influence in increasing measure as we steward it well for the glory of God!
  • I don’t think Peter was even thinking about his 6 brothers at this moment, unfortunately Peter was wrapped up in Peter! How about you?
  • The antidote here is not to be thinking about others, though good and helpful, he needed time with Jesus!
  • That is where we are reminded, restored and refreshed!
  • We are deceived if we think that going back to our old ways will satisfy and we are in danger of leading others astray too.
  • Here’s the good news JESUS is FAITHFUL!!!

but that night they caught nothing

  • Have you ever thought that are famines are a blessing? Some of you might be in a famine right now. Please write this down – Famines are the Lord’s way of revealing an empty path!
  • Often we are so wrapped up in ourselves and our desires that we can’t see it. Then the Lord blesses us with empty nets, so that we might turn and be reminded of His Presence, Power and Purpose.

John 21:4 (ESV)
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

Just as day was breaking – sounds familiar

  • God’s timing is perfect – He denied Him @ daybreak

Jesus stood on the shore

  • Jesus stands on our shores and doors calling to us

Revelation 3:20 (ESV)
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

John 10:27 (ESV)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus

  • About 100 yards (vs. 8)
  • Much like each of the other resurrection sightings
  • Mary Magdalene
  • Behind locked doors to His disciples twice
  • 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus

John 21:5 (ESV)

Jesus said to them, “Children (Boys), do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 

  • Do you think Jesus knew the answer to His question? So, why does someone ask questions they have answers for? Test! Teachers ideally test us to help us understand and reinforce the teaching, Jesus was the greatest teacher!
  • Ultimately, Jesus is reminding them of His presence, His power and His purpose.
  • ?If Jesus knew they had no fish why point it out? I believe it is God’s grace to show and remind us how empty our old ways are.
  • Then He directs us to turn to abundant life.

John 21:6 (ESV)

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.

Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some

  • I have always thought why would professional fisherman listen to a man on shore and what difference does the other side of the boat make? “desperate times call for desperate measures” ?Have you been there?
  • When life seems empty and fruitless?
  • I often heard people say ”I guess all we can do is pray” Why is He often our last resort rather that our first response.
  • And this had to have sounded strangely familiar to Peter, yet when we are in this state we are often forgetful of God’s faithful resume too.

So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish.

  • Luke 5 says – “when they had done so…”
  • Here “so they cast it” – OBEDIENCE to God’s Word!
  • Scripture is full of promises related to obedience

John 14:21 (ESV)
Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. (Jesus’ love language is obedience) And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

  • That is exactly what Jesus did – Revealed Himself
  • He reminded them of who He is! God of Creation!

and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish

  • 153 large fish (vs. 11)
  • Malachi 3:10 – tells us that on the others side of obedience that He will “pour out so much blessing that you will not have room for it.”
  • We serve a good Father who loves to bless His kids!

John 21:7 (ESV) 

That disciple whom Jesus loved (John) 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.

John said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”

  • We are desperate for each other
  • We need to point each other to the Lord
  • Especially in these moments of failure and regret
  • Peter’s response the first time was “go away from..”
  • Now He runs/swims to Him with radical surrender
  • This is a beautiful picture of repentance!

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.

  • Such a perfect response – all in!
  • ?What about you? When the Lord stands on the shore of your famine and failure and reminds you of who He is, Who’s you are and what’s your purpose, how do you respond?
  • “..If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
  • Are you asking, seeking and knocking?

John 21:8 (ESV)
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 other disciples came in the boat

  • Peter’s example and influence leads them to Jesus.
  • Why? Because He turned and radically sought Jesus.

John 21:9 (ESV)
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread.

John 18:18 (ESV)
Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself.

  • Jesus recreates the scene right down to the details
  • ?Why? to remind Peter of his sin? No Way! To redeem it, to mark that moment in his past as paid in full!
  • Jesus came to reconcile Peter, to restore him and remind Him of Christ’s PRESENCE, POWER AND PURPOSE!
  • He turns His tests into testimonies!

John 21:10-11 (ESV)
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.

  • Jesus asked them and Peter jumps up in radical obedience. When we experience the ministry of Jesus it ignites a passion for obedience to His Word!
  • I see this in so many members of our church family
  • As Peter went back and saw this audacious catch, He had to be invigorated and reminded that he’s loved and not forsaken!
  • The net were not torn – there is always protection in the Lord’s provision! 

John 21:12 (ESV) 

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.

  • We put way too much emphasis of appearances and externals – Jesus says (Matt. 7:16) you will recognize them by their fruit.
  • As I mentioned earlier His glorified body was different

John 21:13-14 (ESV)

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.

  • This had to have reminded them of the feeding of the thousands and many intimate meals together, but more importantly of the call to faith Jesus want them to have.

Invitation and Closing Prayer

  • Are you walking in guilt, shame or regret?
  • Do you find yourself trying to cover up, blame…
  • Are you not walking out His call or His mission?
  • Do you find yourself turning back to your old ways in difficult moments?
  • Are you experiencing a famine in your life?
  • Turn to Jesus by obeying His Word, trust His plan and pattern for your life.
  • Get in Christ centered community
  • Open the door & swim to the shore of His love and grace
  • Dive into an intimate relationship with Jesus!