John 21 – Follow Thou Me

Dear Friends,

Greetings in Christ!

In our last post, Jesus appeared to the disciples after rising from the dead. One of the things I found interesting in Israel was how they know where everyone is buried. The tombs of the patriarchs are in Hebron. Rachel’s tomb is in Bethlehem. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi are buried on the Mount of Olives. The tombs of David and Absalom are in Jerusalem, as is the tomb of Mary the mother of Jesus. There is no consensus on the location of Jesus’ tomb, however, because it is empty. Praise be to God. After appearing to the disciples, Jesus then sent them to serve even as He was sent by his Father. (John 20:21) However, He was not just speaking to the apostles. The disciples who met Him on the road to Emmaus were there as well. (Cf Luke 24:33ff) All of us who believe are sent. We are part of the New Testament priesthood of believers. (1 Pet 2:5, 9) We have been given authority. (John 1:12; Mark 13:34; Rev 1:6) We have been sent. (John 20:21)

Speaking of Hebron, I found the Muslim marketplace there to be almost as interesting as the tombs of the patriarchs. I met a Palestinian lady who wanted to talk so I asked her how she felt about Jesus. When I told her He is coming back soon, she agreed. She said as a Muslim it is her belief that there will be an impostor who will preceed Him. She said she believes that those who are deceived by the impostor will be damned, and then Jesus will return. Of course, I told her that is what the Bible says too.

In this post, we come to the last chapter in John’s epic account of the life and times of Jesus Christ, THE KING OF THE JEWS … King of nations … KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS, King of me. I hope He is your King too. Father, thank You for this glorious journey through John’s Gospel. I pray You will help us unpack this final chapter, that we may finish strong, hearing and receiving all that You wish to share with us for your glory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


John 21
1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

People often find fault with Peter for going back to fishing. Maybe Peter did indeed go back to fishing when he ought to have been preaching. I tend to think that is so, but maybe he was just hungry? In any case, I believe the fish in our narrative represent souls. If you are going to go evangelizing, you need to keep Jesus at the center of all you do. (John 15:5) They toiled all night and caught nothing, but when Jesus shows up, suddenly the situation changes.

4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.

As always, Jesus knew the answer before He asked.

6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

If you are feeling some déjà vu that would be because this same thing happened when Jesus called Peter the second time. (Luke 5:4ff) Could this mean this is the third time Jesus is calling Peter?

7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved [John] saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.

Fishing naked? And they say this guy was the first pope?? Peter was certainly not anything like a pope. (1 Pet 5:2f)

8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.
11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

Why did the net not break as it did in Luke 5? Simple: they left the net in the water. Without the strain of lifting the net up out of the water, the net stayed intact. However, there is a fundamental spiritual truth here. New Christians need the word. If you catch a fish, you need to keep him in the water by the word (John 15:3; Eph 5:26) if you do not want him to get away. That is your responsibility as the one who caught him. I believe that is the significance behind the number of fish that they caught. Why would Jesus have them count the fish? Simple: The fish represent Christian souls. When you lead people to Christ you need to keep track of each and every one of them and be sure none are neglected.

12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

Just as the bread and the fish represented the word of God and Christian souls when Jesus fed the multitude in Chapter 6, so do they here in Chapter 21. (This is what is known as the law of expositional constancy.)

14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
15 ¶ 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.

Who are these? Some are of the opinion that Jesus was asking Simon if he loved Him more than the other disciples did. Peter made that claim and then failed. (Mark 14:29) Maybe Jesus was exhorting Peter not to be cocky. If so, Peter not only learned his lesson but preached it as well. (1 Pet 5:5f) Others say the these Jesus was referring to were the fish. Since Peter was fishing again, Jesus was asking him if he loved fishing more than Him. Either view seems to fit; something to meditate on. 

16 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.

According to the Bible, love is not an emotion, but an action. (1 John 5:2f) Jesus is in effect saying Peter, if you love me, show it. I once heard of a church that had ‘Feed My Sheep’ painted on the side of their food van that distributed food to the poor. I thought they were being witty, as Jesus was speaking figuratively, telling Peter He wants him to teach the word. (Matt 4:4; Luke 4:4) But later I learned that John used two different Greek words for feed to describe what Jesus told Peter in Aramaic. I think that church may have been spot-on in their interpretation of what Jesus meant. Ie, feed them both physically and spiritually.

Jesus also used two different words for sheep and two different words for love; something else to meditate on:

boskó + poimainó = feed them his word and tend to them in other practical ways as well?
lambs + sheep = feed both the children and the adults?

agapeó + phileó = Because these two words seem to be used interchangeably in many cases in the New Testament, some feel it is splitting hairs to consider why the two different words are used. Notwithstanding, on a technical level agapeó signifies a deeper love; this is the word Paul used in 1 Corinthians 13. The word phileó is more of a brotherly love or affection. The first two times Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, He used agapeó, while Peter responded using phileó. Maybe Peter did not feel worthy to use agapeó; considering his failure on the night of the crucifixion, that would be understandable. The third time Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him, Jesus used phileó. Peter responded again, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I philó thee. I will leave it to you to decide whether I am splitting hairs by bringing this up.

17 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.

Peter denied Jesus three times, and three times Jesus asks Peter if he loves Him. This grieved Peter, but he needed to hear it or else Jesus would not have repeated Himself three times. Three times Jesus reminds Peter, Feed my sheep.

18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

Jesus tells Peter that although he failed Him before, when the time comes Peter will give his life for Him and will not fail. Peter will be crucified. Jesus then repeats the same thing He said the first time He called Peter. (Matt 4:19) Follow me. The first time, Jesus said Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. I think Peter remembered that as Jesus said once more, Follow me.

20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?
21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do?

I thank God for Peter. He reminds me that maybe I’m not so bad after all. Jesus just got done telling him to feed his sheep and to follow Him … to the cross. Immediately, Peter puts his foot in his mouth and says “But what about John??”

22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.

Again, Jesus needs to remind Peter to follow Him and mind his own business. Peter may not look like much now, but he gets better. Before too long, in the Book of Acts, Peter will start leading people to Christ by the thousands. (Ie after Pentecost, when the church was empowered by the Holy Spirit.) In fact, Peter will become so spiritual that just passing by someone and touching them with his shadow will heal them. (Acts 15:15f)

23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.
John 21


Jesus is everything. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Jesus is Prophet, Priest, and King. He is our Provider, our Righteousness, our Healer, our Saviour. If we do as He commands, He is our Brother and our Friend. (Mark 3:35; John 15:14) His commandment is that we love one another, as He has loved us. (John 13:34; 15:12, 17) John started by telling us Jesus is the Word made flesh. He ends with Jesus risen from the dead. I do not believe John was speaking figuratively when he made the statement about the world not being able to contain all the books that could be written about what Jesus did. Einstein said there are two ways of looking at things, either nothing is a miracle or everything is a miracle. I choose the latter. And if everything is a miracle that means a lot of books could be written about the things Jesus has done. And He’s just getting started. If the 7000-year timetable corresponding to the seven days of creation is correct — a model that goes all the way back to several of the church fathers — then soon and very soon this earth will experience a millennium of peace with Christ as King. (Acts 13:41) Father, thank You for all You have done through your Son, and thank You for all You have in store for us in the future. All creation groans in travail and earnest expectation over the Revelation of your Son. Please send Him quickly, Father. Please account us worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass and to stand before Him. I pray this in his holy and precious name. The name above all names. Amen.


CODA: As I begin drafting this post, I am finishing up my one-month trip to the holy land. One of the many places I enjoyed visiting was the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum. There is a plaque in the shrine inscribed with Ezekiel 37:14: And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. We are indeed living in the times of the signs. There in the Shrine of the Book they have a scroll of Isaiah, discovered at Qumran, that predates the time of Christ. It matches the Book of Isaiah in the Aleppo Codex word for word. Also housed in the Shrine of the Book, the Aleppo Codex was written in the 10th Century AD. Edited by Ben Asher, the last of the Masoretes, the Aleppo Codex was the oldest manuscript available until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. (The King James translators used the Mikraot Gedolot of Ben Hayyim, which follows the Ben Asher text of the Aleppo Codex.) The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran proves (yet again) that we have God’s word preserved for us today. When a scroll is found that predates the oldest manuscript we had by 1000 years and matches it exactly, that should settle the issue. The word of God is living. (Heb 4:12) The word of God cannot be broken. (John 10:35) Jesus said Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.