The Second Call: John 21:1-14

Focus Passage: John 21:1-14 (NIV)

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards. When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.

10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter climbed back into the boat and dragged the net ashore. It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came, took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus appeared to his disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Read John 21:1-14 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Following Jesus’ resurrection, John records in his gospel an interesting event that I am a little surprised the other gospel writers don’t include. In this event, we find a group of Jesus disciples back by the Sea of Galilee headed out to go fishing. John describes what happened at the start of the last chapter of his gospel.

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.” (v. 1-3)

This event, with just a couple more individuals added to it, begins to look like an earlier event that another gospel writer records early on in Jesus’ ministry. Perhaps catching nothing was something that happened regularly, so it may not have been as abnormal, but I also wonder if the disciples were pestering each other saying they must have gotten out of practice having not fished for a few years.

John continues by saying, “Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.” (v. 4)

I wonder if it was because of the distance that made the disciples unable to recognize Jesus, or perhaps He was dressed differently. John had already shared that this was the third time Jesus had appeared to them, so at the very least, some of them would have seen Him before.

In this event, Jesus then calls out to them in the boat, asking “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” (v. 5a)

Probably with a bit of discouragement in their voices, they answer “No.” (v. 5b)

At this point in the event, we begin to see the biggest parallel to an earlier event. Jesus then responds to the disciples by saying, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” (v. 6a)

With this statement, Jesus echoes an earlier direction that led into a miracle leading up to the first fishermen disciples being called. Luke describes this earlier event as Jesus heading out to fish with these disciples after they have had an unsuccessful night of fishing. While discouraged, these first followers obey and they have one of the best catches of their career. (Luke 5)

Here at the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, we find a similar event, and when the disciples obeyed Jesus, “they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.” (v. 6b)

This event echoes how the first group of fishermen disciples were called. I wonder if this after-resurrection event was a new call for these followers to reset their relationship with Jesus and start fresh with Him. After they all had abandoned Him in the garden, I wonder if Jesus intentionally repeats this earlier miracle to give them a new call and invitation to restart their journey again with Him. When we choose to come to Jesus after failing, He is willing to forgive and start fresh with us!

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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