Walking with Jesus: Peter Reinstated
Scripture: John 21:1-18
1 Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.
3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”
“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.
4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows,[c] have you caught any fish?”
“No,” they replied.
6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.
7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards[d] from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.
10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.
12 “Now come and have some breakfast!” Jesus said. None of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord.13 Then Jesus served them the bread and the fish. 14 This was the third time Jesus had appeared to his disciples since he had been raised from the dead.
15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?[e]”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”
“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.
16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”
“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.
17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”
Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”
Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.
18 “I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others[f] will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”
GAME: Honey if you love me….
The group sits in a circle facing inward. One member of the group is ‘it.’ The objective is for this person to make another smile. He goes around the circle, picks a person, kneels, and asks him/her, ‘Honey, if you love me, smile? ‘ The person must respond with, ‘Honey, I love you, but I just can’t smile,’ without smiling. If he/she smiles, that person becomes ‘it’, replacing the first. If the person ‘it’ does not convince a person to smile, he/she must approach another until he/she does. The person ‘it’ may do any gestures he/she wants to make the person smile (e.g. make funny faces, do a stunt), but cannot touch the person. This is a circular game, meaning it does not end. A good length for this game would be 20 minutes, or when most of the group has been ‘it.’ ()
Share: (Choose one as an icebreaker question)
- Do you like to go fishing, why or why not?
- Share a story of a time you were forgiven, even though you do not feel you deserved it.
- Share a story of a time you failed a test (or made a big error) and how your parents responded.
SETTING THE STAGE: Remind your group that this story takes place after Jesus rose from the dead. A few days before the first Easter, Peter adamantly denies knowing Jesus three times (just as Jesus has predicted). Since then, Peter has seen the risen Jesus, but feels as though there is permanent damage in their relationship.
Read John 21:1-18
Videos: If you are looking for a way to recap the story, here are some videos that may help.
- The Gospel of John (live action): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PftRF2xVDD4
- Saddleback Kids (animated): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ppb9bKX1r7k
- Share Faith Kids (animated): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulRPKXet8n4
Re-read verse 1-8
- Why do you think Peter decided to go back to fishing? (Perhaps he was going back to his old life or he needed something to distract him from the worry and guilt he was feeling.)
- Why do you think the other disciples went with him?
- Do you think the night of fishing helped Peter feel better? (see verse 3, “they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.” How would you have felt if you were Peter, trying to distract yourself, but not catching any fish.”
- What is significant about Jesus helping these fisherman catch a large number of fish?
Read the story of what happened when Jesus first met Simon Peter: Luke 5:4-7 (or to 11)
4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon (Peter), “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”
5 “Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” 6 And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! 7 A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.
- What might be the significance that Jesus helped these experienced fishermen catch fish the same way at the beginning and end of his earthly ministry?
- How does Peter respond when he realizes the man on the beach is Jesus? How is it different from the other disciples? Do you think Peter’s reaction is legitimate or overboard (pun intended)? How do you think you would have responded to Jesus appearance?
Read Verses 15-18
- What question does Jesus ask Peter? What is Peter’s response? How does Jesus follow up?
- Why does Jesus ask Peter the same question three times?
- How do you think Peter feels being asked this question multiple times?
- Do you think Peter was feeling annoyed by Jesus constant asking?
Perhaps this video clip might help you connect with how Peter was feeling: (from The Office)
Read this Quote from NT Wright:
“Jesus goes to where the pain is, as he so often does. He takes Simon Peter away from the others and asks the question that goes to the heart of it all, “Do you love me?” The question is asked an answered; and even more, that answer earns not a pat on the back, not a “There, that’s all right then,” but a command. A fresh challenge. A new commission.” Feed my sheep.
- What do you think it means to “feed my sheep?”
- How does this new commission that Jesus gives Peter offer a concrete way of demonstrating he’s been forgiven and express hope for him?
Read Peter’s Second Chance by Max Lucado (distribute copies to your group, so they can follow along)
PETER’s Second Chance story (Printable version)
- How does Lucado’s take on this passage add to the biblical passage?
- What hope does this story hold?
- How does this story inspire you to handle your mistakes and failures?
- When have you experienced God’s forgiveness in a meaningful way?
- How can failure destroy a person?
- What keeps us from accepting and enjoying God’s forgiveness?
Prayer Time: Invite your group to close their eyes and clear their minds. Say the section below, pausing between lines for individuals to privately reflect.
“Picture Jesus saying these things to you. How would you respond, or what would the words mean in the context of your life?”
- Jesus asks: “Do you truly love me?” (PAUSE)
- Jesus says “Take care of my sheep.” (PAUSE)
- Jesus says, “You must follow me.” (PAUSE)
After a brief time of silent prayer, have a group member close the meeting in prayer.”