Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke
Third Sunday of Easter • April 18, 2010
Acts 9:1-6 [7-20]
Psalm 30 (11)
Prayer of the Day
Eternal and all-merficul God, with all the angels and all the saints we laud your majesty and might. By the resurrection of your Son, show yourself to us and inspire us to follow Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.
Alleluia. Our hearts | burn within us
while you open to | us the scriptures. Alleluia. (Luke 24:32)
1a. Context: John 21:1-19
Commentators agree that John 20:30-31 is the
conclusion of the gospel, and they follow with much
discussion as to the nature and purpose of John 21. Was
it added by an earlier editor, even before "publication"?
Does it include other Johannine material whch was
considered too important to overlook? Is it added in
order to emphasize specific theological themes? The
Galilee fishing scene, with the disciples not recognizing
the risen Lord (21:4,12) does not harmonize with the
Jerusalem appearances. After their commissioning, why are
these seven disciples (21:2) fishing?
The conclusion (21:24-25) seems to be a clumsy
restatement of 20:30-31. Should we read and interpret
this story as a realistic account or is the author "more
concerned with a chiaroscuro, an interplay of black and
white, in which what is real and what is symbolic is not
distinguished for us"? (E. Haenchen, p. 230).
The relationship of Jesus to Simon
Peter and to "the disciple whom Jesus loved," and their
relationship to one another, seems to be the focus of the
chapter. Brown calls this chapter, "An added account of a
post-resurrectional appearance of Jesus in Galilee which
is used to show how Jesus provided for the needs of the
Church." (p. 1063) It is an "ecclesiastical chapter"
(Brown, p. 1082).
It may or may not have been written by the hand of
the Fourth Evangelist, but it has always been an integral
part of the Fourth Gospel, important to the church and its
scriptural canon. "We thus have before us a literary
composite, which, however, stands in the service of a
thoroughly thought through theological composition."
(Haenchen, p. 230)
1b. Text: John 21:1-19
Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples
21:1 After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 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.
4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 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. 7 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. 8 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.
9 When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 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. 12 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. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Jesus and Peter
15 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.” 16 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.” 17 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. 18 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.” 19 (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.”
 21:8 Greek two hundred cubits; a cubit was about 18 inches or 45 cm.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles
1Μετὰ ταῦτα ἐφανέρωσεν ἑαυτὸν πάλιν ὁ Ἰησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάσσης τῆς Τιβεριάδος: ἐφανέρωσεν δὲ οὕτως. 2ἦσαν ὁμοῦ Σίμων Πέτρος καὶ Θωμᾶς ὁ λεγόμενος Δίδυμος καὶ Ναθαναὴλ ὁ ἀπὸ Κανὰ τῆς Γαλιλαίας καὶ οἱ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου καὶ ἄλλοι ἐκ τῶν μαθητῶν αὐτοῦ δύο. 3λέγει αὐτοῖς Σίμων Πέτρος, Ὑπάγω ἁλιεύειν. λέγουσιν αὐτῷ, Ἐρχόμεθα καὶ ἡμεῖς σὺν σοί. ἐξῆλθον καὶ ἐνέβησαν εἰς τὸ πλοῖον, καὶ ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ νυκτὶ ἐπίασαν οὐδέν. 4πρωΐας δὲ ἤδη γενομένης ἔστη Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὸν αἰγιαλόν: οὐ μέντοι ᾔδεισαν οἱ μαθηταὶ ὅτι Ἰησοῦς ἐστιν. 5λέγει οὖν αὐτοῖς [ὁ] Ἰησοῦς, Παιδία, μή τι προσφάγιον ἔχετε; ἀπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ, Οὔ. 6ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Βάλετε εἰς τὰ δεξιὰ μέρη τοῦ πλοίου τὸ δίκτυον, καὶ εὑρήσετε. ἔβαλον οὖν, καὶ οὐκέτι αὐτὸ ἑλκύσαι ἴσχυον ἀπὸ τοῦ πλήθους τῶν ἰχθύων. 7λέγει οὖν ὁ μαθητὴς ἐκεῖνος ὃν ἠγάπα ὁ Ἰησοῦς τῷ Πέτρῳ, Ὁ κύριός ἐστιν. Σίμων οὖν Πέτρος, ἀκούσας ὅτι ὁ κύριός ἐστιν, τὸν ἐπενδύτην διεζώσατο, ἦν γὰρ γυμνός, καὶ ἔβαλεν ἑαυτὸν εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν: 8οἱ δὲ ἄλλοι μαθηταὶ τῷ πλοιαρίῳ ἦλθον, οὐ γὰρ ἦσαν μακρὰν ἀπὸ τῆς γῆς ἀλλὰ ὡς ἀπὸ πηχῶν διακοσίων, σύροντες τὸ δίκτυον τῶν ἰχθύων. 9ὡς οὖν ἀπέβησαν εἰς τὴν γῆν βλέπουσιν ἀνθρακιὰν κειμένην καὶ ὀψάριον ἐπικείμενον καὶ ἄρτον. 10λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Ἐνέγκατε ἀπὸ τῶν ὀψαρίων ὧν ἐπιάσατε νῦν. 11ἀνέβη οὖν Σίμων Πέτρος καὶ εἵλκυσεν τὸ δίκτυον εἰς τὴν γῆν μεστὸν ἰχθύων μεγάλων ἑκατὸν πεντήκοντα τριῶν: καὶ τοσούτων ὄντων οὐκ ἐσχίσθη τὸ δίκτυον. 12λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Δεῦτε ἀριστήσατε. οὐδεὶς δὲ ἐτόλμα τῶν μαθητῶν ἐξετάσαι αὐτόν, Σὺ τίς εἶ; εἰδότες ὅτι ὁ κύριός ἐστιν. 13ἔρχεται Ἰησοῦς καὶ λαμβάνει τὸν ἄρτον καὶ δίδωσιν αὐτοῖς, καὶ τὸ ὀψάριον ὁμοίως. 14τοῦτο ἤδη τρίτον ἐφανερώθη Ἰησοῦς τοῖς μαθηταῖς ἐγερθεὶς ἐκ νεκρῶν. 15Οτε οὖν ἠρίστησαν λέγει τῷ Σίμωνι Πέτρῳ ὁ Ἰησοῦς, Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με πλέον τούτων; λέγει αὐτῷ, Ναί, κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ, Βόσκε τὰ ἀρνία μου. 16λέγει αὐτῷ πάλιν δεύτερον, Σίμων Ἰωάννου, ἀγαπᾷς με; λέγει αὐτῷ, Ναί, κύριε, σὺ οἶδας ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ, Ποίμαινε τὰ πρόβατά μου. 17λέγει αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον, Σίμων Ἰωάννου, φιλεῖς με; ἐλυπήθη ὁ Πέτρος ὅτι εἶπεν αὐτῷ τὸ τρίτον, Φιλεῖς με; καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ, Κύριε, πάντα σὺ οἶδας, σὺ γινώσκεις ὅτι φιλῶ σε. λέγει αὐτῷ [ὁ Ἰησοῦς], Βόσκε τὰ πρόβατά μου. 18ἀμὴν ἀμὴν λέγω σοι, ὅτε ἦς νεώτερος, ἐζώννυες σεαυτὸν καὶ περιεπάτεις ὅπου ἤθελες: ὅταν δὲ γηράσῃς, ἐκτενεῖς τὰς χεῖράς σου, καὶ ἄλλος σε ζώσει καὶ οἴσει ὅπου οὐ θέλεις. 19τοῦτο δὲ εἶπεν σημαίνων ποίῳ θανάτῳ δοξάσει τὸν θεόν. καὶ τοῦτο εἰπὼν λέγει αὐτῷ, Ἀκολούθει μοι.
Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;
The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition © 1975, United Bible Societies, London
2. ANALYSIS: John 21:1-19
Jn. 21:1 - "After this" (meta tauta) is a
transitional phrase which does not connnect up with what
precedes. That this is understood to be Jesus' third
post-resurrection appearance (vs. 14) would necessitate
discounting one of the previous three
(20:11-18,19-23,26-29). Does the writer exclude the
appearance to Mary Magdalene, perhaps because she is not
"one of the twelve," and besides, a woman?!
The verb phanero, here and in vs. 14 translated
"reveal" (see also 1:31), elsewhere in John is translated
"manifest" or "make manifest" (2:11;9:3;17:6), "show"
(7:4), and "seen" (3:21). It has the meaning of
emergence from obscurity, and for John it means a concrete
revelation fo the heavenly upon earth (Brown, p. 1067).
This theme is evident as the verb is used in 1 John 1:2
and 4:9. The mission of Christ is assumed in this
word--"that he might be revealed to Israel" (1:31). "And
so the task of the Baptist proclaimed in the first chapter
of the Gospel has been brought to completion in the last;
Jesus has been fully revealed to Israel, that is, to the
community of believers represented by the disciples"
(Brown, p. 1096).
Jn. 21:2 - Disciples previously featured in John's gospel
make their final appearance, plus two that are unnamed.
Is "the disciple whom Jesus loved" one of the "two others"
or one of the "sons of Zebedee" who appear here for the
first and last time in John's gospel? Those who argue
that John (one of the sons of Zebedee, brother to James)
is "the disciple whom Jesus loved," perhaps grasping at
straws, suggest that the evangelist reveals the incognito
in this passage with the phrase oi tou Zebedaiou.
Jn. 21:3 - That Peter could even imagine handling both the
boat and the drag-net by himself ("I am going fishing")
suggests that the gospel writer is using fishing as a
metaphor. Nevertheless, Peter, even with the help of
others, "caught nothing."
Jn. 21:4 - That Jesus is unrecognized is reminiscent of
Luke 24:16 and the whole passage Luke 24:13-35, bringing
to mind the story of eating in Luke 24:41-43 and of course
the fishing story in Luke 5:1-11.
Jn. 21:5 - "Children, you haven't caught anything to eat,
have you? (mei ti prosphagion echete)...It's interesting
that the disciples are addressed as paidia (cf. 1 Jn.
2:13,18). The word translated in RSV as "fish" is
prosphagion which was actually a relish eaten with bread,
or anything generally eaten with other food.
Since fish usually was the dominant ingredient in this
relish, it came to have the meaning of fish, opsarion (vs.
9,10,13), diminutive of opson which means most any kind of
meat. That the disciples have toiled but netted no fish
reminds us that in the gospels the disciples--regardless
of the number of fishermen Peter brings along--never catch
any fish without Jesus' help!
Jn. 21:6 - Here and in vs. 8 & 11, the word for "fish" is
ichthus. These verses focus not on the meal but on the
catch of fish. The "right" side is the auspicious side
(cf. Mt. 25:33), the favorable or fortunate side.
Jn. 21:7 - Perhaps because of the great catch of fish, the
"beloved disciple" recognizes Jesus and tells Peter, "It
is the Lord." Is this the disciple who "opened the door"
for Peter at the court of the high priest (18:15-16)? Now
again he provides access to the Lord for Peter (cf.
13:23-26). And again "the disciple whom Jesus loved" is
not as quick to respond perhaps but quicker tobelieve (cf.
20:8). Simon Peter does respond, "tucking in" or
"cincturing" (cf. Brown, p. 1072 for discussion of
diazonnumi) his loose outer garment (ependuteis). Perhaps
the diazonnumi of verse 7 refers forward to zonnumi
("gird") in verse 18.
21:9 - We switch scenes, not only to land, but to a new
focus, perhaps with eyes and ears open for the symbolic,
the metaphorical, the parabolic. The charcoal fire
(anthrakia) here and in 18:18 reminds us of Peter's denial
in the court of the high priest (18:17, 25-27). This is
also important for 21:15-17. Here, and in verses 10 and
13, where the word for "fish" is opsarion, the story-focus
is on the meal rather than on the catch.
21:11 - We again focus on the catch. The verb, elko,
translated "haul" and used here and in verse 6, is the
verb used by John in 6:44 and 12:32, where it is
translated "draw." "I, when I am lifted up from the
earth, will draw all men to myself" (12:32).
Also, look for background in LXX of Jeremiah 38:3
(MT,31:3) where God says of Israel, "I have drawn you with
kindness." The word is used kerygmatically and so the
catch of fish is a parable of the church's mission (cf.
Luke 5:10;Mt. 4:19; Mark 1:17). That Peter hauls the net
of large fish ashore by himself is not meant to suggest a
tremendous physical feat, but Peter's leadership role in
the apostolic ministry. The number "153" is obviously
symbolic, but it is not clear exactly what the author had
in mind. It is clear that the catch is large (cf. Luke
5:6-9) as are the fish (21:11). The allegorical
interpretation by Jerome, drawing on Oppianus Cilix and
early zoology asserts that "153" represents the number of
known species of fish, a symbol for all nations and
peoples. Augustine, like many others, tried his hand at
numerological interpretation, but also confessed it a
I prefer the species interpretation which may fulfill
Ezekiel 47:10 (cf. Matthew 13:47). "153" symbolizes the
all-embracing character of Christian mission, anticipating
the fulness of the Church. Yet "the net was not torn"
(schizo). Whereas Jesus' earthly ministry caused
divided response or schism (7:43;9:16;10:19), the
apostolic community and its mission and ministry are
united in response, one and seamless (19:23). Though many
in number and kind, in Christ we are gathered together and
made one (cf. 6:12-13;10:16;11:52;17:11,20-23).
Jn. 21:12 - Jesus invites the disciples to the meal,
establishing fellowship with them, a fellowship which was
never broken , despite the cross, their forsaking him and
their doubt. There is some confusionk, not only with the
disciples, but with the story. Why should none dare ask
him, "Who are you?" if they already "knew it was the
Lord?" Some suggest that their recognition of the Lord
should follow verse 13 (cf. Luke 24:31).
Jn. 21:13 - According to Hooker (p. 205), bread and fish
were eucharistic symbols in the early church. Recall that
John presented bread and fish in his eucharistic scene in
chapter 6, the feeding of the 5,000. [ See 6:11; also
Luke 24:30,41-42; Acts 1:4, 10:41]. The meal is
3. STRATEGY: John 12:1-14
There are two principal themes according to McPolin's
JOHN (p. 225): apostolic mission and eucharistic presence.
Both themes "wrestle with questions confronting the post-
Easter Christian community...Where is the promised
accomplishing of greater works (14:12)?
Where are answers to prayer (14:13) and the experience
of the love of God (14:23)? Where is the gift of
'life in his name' (20:31)? Where is he himself in these
days of the church?" (Smith, p. 177).
Within the story of the miraculous catch of fish, with the
theme of apostolic mission, are other concerns:
DISCIPLESHIP IS OBEDIENCE--"Believing is Obeying" –
The disciples are not certain that it is Jesus, yet upon his
word they act. It's risky business, faith, but we throw
forth our nets because the Lord commands, although the
catch is not a guarantee. Nevertheless, whatever success
may come is only with the help of Jesus, when we act upon
his command. This theme continues on through the meal
and through Jesus' conversation with Peter.
[Note that the Common Lectionary also utilizes 15-19. It
seems to me that verses 15-19 are fair game for
the preacher, especially since only verses 15-17 are
include in some lectionaries, and then only for Pastors
and Bishops. 21:20-25 is reserved the day of Saint John. ]
We are also nourished at our Lord's invitation, in
obedience to his words....Come and Eat, Take and Eat, Do
This in Remembrance of Me. In trust and obedience the
meal becomes the Lord's--the Lord's Breakfast, the Lord's
Supper. And from the nourishment we are again sent in
mission: Feed My Lambs, Tend my Sheep, Feed my Sheep,
Follow Me. Dietrich Bonhoeffer notes that "On two
separate occasions Peter received the call, 'Follow me.' It
was the first and last word Jesus spoke to his disciple
(Mark 1:17; John 21:22). A whole life lies between these
two calls" (COST OF DISCIPLESHIP, p. 48).
Our Christian discipleship is done with INTENTION,
in obedient response to our Lord (cf. 15:9-11). The arena
of our responsive obedience is in the everyday, including
the workaday world and times of table fellowship.
Discipleship is also DRAWING people to Jesus. It is
the "come and see" of Philip (1:46). We are drawn to the
cross (12:32), to the risen Lord and we are all drawn
together. Discipleship is WORKING TOGETHER IN UNITY, not
tearing the net. We are the Church when we work together
in common mission. In the Lord's mission we find unity
and community. There is a time and a place for arguing
dogma and doctrine, but our commitment to a common
mission must always override. The image of the net not
torn calls us to unity.
The image of fishing is also our GREAT COMMISSION
(cf. Matthew 28:18-20). Fishing is the metaphor for
teaching. It is also a vocation and a way of making a
living. People are "caught" by our way of living--by
what we do more than by what we say.
And within the lakeside meal, the breakfast barbeque,
is the eucharistic presence of our Lord. It is the Lord's
meal, prepared by himl, and in this meal our resurrected
Lord is with us "to the close of the age." The eucharist
is not a somber memorial meal for the crucified Jesus, or
the last meal of one about to be executed, but a
celebration of our Lord's resurrected presence in our
midst, sharing himself with the whole church and sending
us forth as missionaries into the everyday world. The
eucharist both nurtures and commissions the community of
We may compare this meal to the feeding of 5,000 in
John 6 as we proclaim the sacrament through word. What
was previously recorded by John seems now like a promise
fulfilled: "I am the bread of life...I am the living
bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this
bread, he will live forever; and the bread which I shall
give for the life of the world is my flesh" (6:48,51).
4. REFERENCES: John 21:1-19
Barrett, C.K. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN, 2d.ed.
Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP, transl.
R.H. Fuller. New York, NY: MacMillan, 1963.
Brown, Raymond E. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN
(xiii-xxi). Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1970.
Bultmann, Rudolf. THE GOSPEL OF JOHN,transl. and ed. by
G.R. Beasley- Murray, General Editor, R.W.N. Hoare and J.K. Riches. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1971.
Fuller, Reginald H. THE FORMATION OF THE RESURRECTION
NARRATIVES. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980.
Fuller, Reginald H. "John 20:19-23," INTERPRETATION,
volume 32, number 2, April, 1978, pp. 180-184.
Haenchen, Ernest. JOHN 2, transl. Robert W. Funk.
Hermeneia. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1984.
Hooker, Morna. STUDYING THE NEW TESTAMENT. Minneapolis:
Jervell, Jacob. JESUS IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN, transl.
Harry T. Cleven. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984.
Kierkegaard,Soren. SOREN KIERKEGAARD'S JOURNALS AND
PAPERS, volume 5, edited and translated by Howard V. Hong
and Edna H. Hong. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1978.
Kysar, Robert. JOHN. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1986.
Kysar, Robert. JOHN'S STORY OF JESUS. Philadelphia:
McPolin, James,S.J. JOHN. Wilmington,DE: Michael
Marsh, John. SAINT JOHN. Baltimore: Penguin; Books, 1968.
Marxsen,Willi. THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS OF NAZARETH.
Philadelphia: Fortress, 1970.
Perkins, Pheme. RESURRECTION: NEW TESTAMENT WITNESS AND
CONTEMPORARY REFLECTION. Garden City,NY: Doubleday, 1984.]
Schnackenburg, Rudolf. THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO SAINT
JOHN, volume 3. New York,NY: Crossroad, 1982.
Sloyan, Gerard S. JOHN: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching. Atlanta,GA: John Knox Press, 1988.
Smith, Robert H. EASTER GOSPELS: THE RESURRECTION OF
JESUS ACCORDING TO THE FOUR EVANGELISTS. Minnapolis:
5. MUSIC SUGGESTIONS: John 21:1-14
The traditional hymn THEY CAST THEIR NETS IN
GALILEE (HB 661, LBW 449) is especially suitable for this
day and lends itself to accompaniment (e.g., guitar,
dulcimer, flute,etc.). Other recommended hymns are:
LOOK, NOW HE STANDS! (LBW 152)
NOW ALL THE VAULT OF HEAV'N RESOUNDS (ELW 367, LBW 143)
O BREAD OF LIFE FROM HEAVEN (ELW 480, LBW 222)
O JESUS, JOY OF LOVING HEARTS (ELW 658, HB 649/650, LBW 356)
O LIVING BREAD FROM HEAVEN (ELW 542, LBW 197)
PRAISE AND THANKS AND ADORATION (ELW 783, LBW 470)
WHERE CHARITY AND LOVE PREVAIL (ELW 359, HB 581, LBW 126)
WITH HIGH DELIGHT LET US UNITE (ELW 368, LBW 140)
If the text is carried on through to 21:25, the hymn BY ALL
YOUR SAINTS STILL STRIVING (HB 231/2, LBW 177:
Vs. 6,8,10) maybe suitable insome liturgical settings.
Exegete – Rev. Glenn C. Petersen is Pastor of Central Lutheran Church in Achorage, AK < http://www.centluth.org >
Glenn is a graduate of Yale Divinity School and has served parishes in CT, CA, and WA before arriving in AK.
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