Jesus Appears to Disciples and Instructs:  Feed my Sheep

John 21:1-17

In the first few weeks after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter, James, John, Thomas, Nathaniel and some of the other followers of Jesus made their way back to Galilee.  They were from Galilee. This is where their association with Jesus began. In fact, they were on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (also called the Sea of Tiberias) when Peter told them “I go a fishing.”  It seems they were going back to their old lives, doing what they were doing before they met Jesus. The others told Peter, “We also go with thee.”

They went into a ship and started fishing.  They were fishing all night and caught nothing.

Jesus stood on the shore, but they didn’t know it was him.  He called out to them, asking if they had caught anything. They answered, “No.”

Jesus instructed, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.”

They did so and caught so many fish in the net that they weren’t able to lift the net back into the boat!  

John said, “It is the Lord.”

Peter, hearing this, couldn’t wait for the ship to reach the shore; he jumped in the water and got to shore as fast as he could.

The others dragged the fish-filled net behind the little ship and made their way to shore in the boat.

When they all got to Jesus, they found he had a meal ready for them.  He had bread and had a fire with fish cooking on it. Jesus said, “Come and dine.” 

The Bible continues:

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Feed my Lambs by James Tissot

Jesus was teaching his followers.  He helped them get fish, showing that Jesus could help them get what they needed, but that was not the main point.  Jesus wanted them to know that life should be different after following Jesus. Peter’s life should be different, too.  Jesus was calling Peter to watch over all of Jesus’ followers. It was time for Peter to stop fishing and care for the church full time.  Jesus needed someone to love his followers, teach them, and care for them.

What do you think?

  • Why didn’t Peter and the others catch any fish that night?
  • Why did they catch so many after they followed Jesus’ instruction?
  • What do you think of Peter jumping out of the ship?
  • How should our lives be different after we have begun to follow Jesus?
  • What does it mean to feed Jesus’ sheep?
  • Do you feel that Jesus has asked you to “feed his sheep?”
  • How can we love others and care for them?

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