Jesus, Peter, You & Me / John 21:1–19 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 1st 2022 / Season of Easter / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 1st 2022: Season of Easter / John 21:1–19 "Jesus & Peter, You & Me"
After this Jesus revealed Himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and He revealed Himself in this way. Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered Him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.
When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask Him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Feed My lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” (This He said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this He said to him, “Follow Me.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. Maybe this has been you, maybe it’s someone you love dearly, but have you ever done something so terrible that you didn’t think you could be forgiven? Something where forgiveness was beyond what you could hope for? Something that made you think about the true nature of sin, something that prompted you to consider it for what it is?
Simon Peter would have know passages like this one from Isaiah 59,
Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save,
or His ear dull, that it cannot hear;
but your iniquities have made a separation
between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden His face from you
so that He does not hear.
For your hands are defiled with blood
and your fingers with iniquity;
your lips have spoken lies;
your tongue mutters wickedness.
Simon Peter had been on a wild ride over the roughly three years leading up to the day of our Gospel Reading, and in some ways he had come full circle. He had started off on a fishing boat in the sea of Galilee and this is where we find Simon Peter again in our Gospel reading: He and Nathanial, with Thomas (who we heard about last Sunday) and James and John his fellow fishermen (who he’d known and worked with for years) and a couple of the other disciples of Jesus were together and Saint John’s Gospel says that they had been in the boat fishing all night, “but that night they caught nothing,” and now it was early morning and this figure on the beach calls out to them asking if they had caught any fish? The answer is no, but the man says “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” This is a big hint as to who the one on the beach is, it also points Simon Peter, and the sons of Zebedee, Saint James and Saint John, back to that day when Jesus had called them out of their boats to come with Him,
Saint Luke tells us what that day, years earlier, was like, “On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on [Jesus] to hear the Word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, [Jesus] asked him to put out a little from the land. And He sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when [Jesus] had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at Your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.”
From that day on Simon Peter had been on a two steps forward one step back kind of journey, it was Jesus that had given him the new name of Peter, which mean Rock, before that he’s simply been Simon the fisherman but when Jesus called Him Peter Jesus had said, “I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus had said this because when He’d asked the disciples who people said that He was Peter had said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” This true a bold confession of faith was one that Jesus said was revealed to Saint Peter not by flesh and blood but by Jesus’ Father in heaven. Yet when everything was on the line, on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, Simon Peter who had vowed to Jesus on that night saying “Even if I must die with You, I will not deny You!” with those very lips, with that same tongue, which were so bold to confess the truth Simon Peter had instead spoken lies and muttered wickedness, and what’s more Peter had drawn his sword and struck off the ear of the high priest’s servant as Jesus was being arrested defiling the fisherman’s hands with blood and his fingers with iniquity.
Remember how it was that from the Garden of Gethsemane across the Kidron valley in the dark Simon Peter and John had followed after Jesus as He was led away and since John was known to the high priest, John entered with Jesus into the courtyard of the high priest, “but Peter stood outside at the door. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out and spoke to the servant girl who kept watch at the door, and brought Peter in. The servant girl at the door said to Peter, “You also are not one of this man’s disciples, are you?” He said, “I am not.” Now the servants and officers had made a charcoal fire, because it was cold, and they were standing and warming themselves. Peter also was with them, standing and warming himself. So they said to him again, “You also are not one of [Jesus] disciples, are you?” He denied it and said, “I am not.” One of the servants of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, “Did I not see you in the garden with Him?” Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed. In the Gospel of Saint Matthew we are told that it was at that moment that Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” And Simon Peter went out and wept bitterly.
It was around a charcoal fire that Simon Peter lied about himself and denied knowing Jesus and in our Gospel reading this same Jesus who he had sinned against invites Simon Peter to come and eat with Him, and the other disciples that where present that day, around a charcoal fire and better yet they didn’t even need the 153 fish they had just caught because that charcoal fire supplied by Jesus was already set with fish laid out on it, and bread. This sets the stage for Simon Peter’s forgiveness: While they were still sitting around that charcoal fire when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to [the resurrected Lord Jesus], “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed My lambs.” [Jesus] said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” [Simon] said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” [Jesus] said to him, “Tend My sheep.” [Jesus] said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because [Jesus] said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” and he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.”
Years earlier Saint Peter had asked Jesus, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.” It’s fair to say that that morning sitting around with his fellow disciples around that charcoal fire with Jesus Peter received the answer to his question. You see Peter must have thought himself smart because seven is a perfect number, so basically he was asking should I forgive a perfect number of times, and yet in Scripture tens are numbers of completeness so Jesus’ answer to Peter is ‘more than you think,’ whatever you think is the perfect number of times, more than that, in fact every single time. He forgave Peter three times for the three denials to illustrate that Jesus will forgive Peter and you and I and all who seek it every time, that each and every sin committed regardless of how bad we think it is, or how much it hurts us or others were all nailed to the cross of His crucifixion with his very body and atoned for.
That passage I mentioned from Isaiah 59 at the beginning of the sermon do you remember what it said, “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,” but do you remember what it said just before that? “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or His ear dull, that it cannot hear;” take heart ask and you shall receive and remember when you are at your darkest place, in your darkest moment, when you are overwhelmed by the events of your life and you are afraid that you are completely lost Jesus is seeking you out, He is coming to you with forgiveness in His nail pierced hands to forgive everything, all of it, every thought word and deed, every failure and denial. Jesus turns His face to you, even as you are turning away from Him weeping bitterly in your sin. This is His love for Saint Peter and this is His love for you and me and for the one you are most worried about. His love and forgiveness is greater than our mind can conceive and what does Saint John say? “for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and He knows everything.” If Simon Peter can be forgiven and reinstated into the work of under shepherd to feed Jesus’ sheep than we too can be forgiven and brought back into the sheepfold of our Good Shepherd Jesus, and thinking on our first reading if an outsider and enemy of Jesus like Saul who Jesus transformed into Saint Paul can be forgiven for his sins than there is room in the sheepfold not just for the Christian who falls into sin but also for the one who is no Christian at all, they too in forgiveness can be made to be one of Jesus’ little lambs. Therefore take heart, the mercy and grace and forgiveness of Jesus is greater than your sins and failures: and we for our part, we the forgiven ones who have received such grace, we are called to grieve our sins, and resist temptation, always seeking to do better, to live lives of faithfulness remembering the perfect faithfulness of our risen Lord Jesus towards us. And how does Jesus end His forgiveness of Peter in our Gospel Reading today? He ends it with the same words He used to call Peter in the first place “Follow Me.” Today is a new day and Jesus says the same to you this day, He says “Follow Me.” Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Isaiah 59:1–3
 Luke 5:1–11
 Matthew 16:18
 Matthew 16:16
 Matthew 26:35
 John 18:15–18
 John 18:25–27
 Matthew 26:75
 The Eighth Commandment, Luther’s Small Catechism, Concordia Publishing House 2017, Pg 14.
 Matthew 18:21–22
 Luke 22:61–62
 1 John 3:20
Photo Credits: Main Photo detail from James Tissot Painting of Jesus Appearing to His Disciples After Easter Sunday from the brooklynmuseum; detail of Water from pexels; fish from pexels; Detail of Charcoal Fire from pxhere; detail of Rooster from pexels; details of Lambs from unsplash; detail of Man Fishing with Net from pixabay.