John states at the end of chapter 20 that many other miraculous signs were witnessed by his disciples but they are not recorded in this book. John has carefully constructed his eyewitness account with a specific purpose: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Chapter 21 is an eyewitness account with Jesus not included in the other gospels but included for us so that we may believe. The resurrected Lord appear to the disciples over 40 days, they never knew when he would appear. A group of disciples are back in Galilee, doing what is familiar, fishing on the Sea of Galilee. This is where Jesus ministered for three years, their home towns, the disciples were waiting for Jesus and keeping busy. Mark 16:7 records that the angel at the tomb told the women, “Jesus is going ahead of you into Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you”.
Again they are fishing all night without any success, which reminds us of another fishing trip with Jesus in Luke 5. As dawn approaches, they are not far off shore only 100 yards, when a man calls out to them, then tells them to throw their net on the right side of the boat. They do as suggested and catch so many large fish that they cannot pull the net into the boat. Perhaps they learned from their previous encounter, when the miracle catch began to sink the boat and their nets were torn.
At this point the apostle John identifies the man on the shore, “It is the Lord!” Peter immediately ties his clothes to himself and swims to shore, leaving the other six to row to shore dragging the net full of 153 large fish. After greeting Jesus, Peter leads the hard work of dragging the net full of fish onto shore. When they arrive on the beach, Jesus had lovingly made a fire, a breakfast of fish and bread, and then served them. John records that everyone recognized Jesus. John is exact in his account, giving us specific details of the time of day, the place, 153 large fish, and the net did not tear, the fire, cooking fish and that Jesus ate with them. John includes all eyewitness details of Jesus, not a ghost or mass hysteria, but a living, breathing, talking, teaching, and eating man raised from the dead.
As their meal is ended Jesus speaks directly to Peter asking repeatedly, “Do you love me?” Each time Peter answers, “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” Then Jesus responds by commissioning Peter to feed and tend my sheep. John wants us to get this; next to a fire in the courtyard of the High Priest Peter denied that he knew and loved Jesus. Next to this fire Jesus reverses the three denials, by restoring Peter and giving him a ministry of shepherding his fledgling disciples.
Jesus then reveals to Peter some of his future with a prophecy, “I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. Follow me!”
John ends his great masterpiece with interesting details, the early church and Peter understood this prophecy to mean the kind of death Peter would die. Which he did, Peter was martyred during the persecution of Nero in 64 AD – church tradition records that he was crucified upside-down at his own request because he was unworthy die the same way as Jesus.
John also records Peter questioning Jesus about John’s future, which Jesus responds with, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me”. John lets us know that a rumor spread, that John would not die and Jesus would return in John’s lifetime. John wants us to understand, that was a misunderstanding, especially by using the word “rumor” and we get that John is at the end of his life, expecting his death, but that we should all get the importance of those other words of Jesus. Jesus said, “Until I return” – Jesus is returning there will be a second coming!
John concludes his gospel by identifying himself, “this is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down”. John is an eyewitness to Jesus’ life and teachings; to the seven miracles, seven witnesses and the seven I AM statements of Jesus. John ate with Jesus and learned from him before his crucifixion, and he also ate with him and learned from him after Jesus’ resurrection. We know that his testimony is true.