First Steps: Bible

John Bible Study: Day 21

Read John 21:1-25.

When my sweet niece was born, her two-and-a-half-year-old brother decided he wanted to start drinking from a bottle again. Oh, he had been drinking from sippy cups and eating solid food, but suddenly, he decided that he wanted to revert back to a bottle. My family and I took it upon ourselves to tell him that he did not need a bottle. He was a “big boy” now and could drink from sippy cups and eat solid food, which were so much better than the bottles his sister was drinking. Why would he want to go back to his old way of life when the world of sippy cups and solid food were so much better? Just like my nephew, sometimes we may be tempted to go back to our old way of life instead of following Jesus. When this happens, Scripture reminds us to abandon our old ways of life and keep following Jesus. After all, following Him is so much better!

In John 21, we find an interesting scene. Peter decided to go fishing, and a group of the disciples followed him. This may not seem strange to you, but let’s take a minute and think about the last time we saw Peter fishing. We find in Matthew chapter four that Peter, Andrew, James, and John were all fishermen before Jesus called them to be disciples. When He called them to follow Him, He called them to fish for people instead of food. At that time, they left everything behind and followed Him. They left their old way of life behind for something that was so much better: Jesus and His mission. Now, in John 21, Peter decided to go fishing again. He was going back to his old way of life. We cannot be sure why, but perhaps, Peter felt shame because He had denied Jesus three times during His arrest and crucifixion. Perhaps he felt unqualified to be Jesus’ disciple anymore. Whatever the case, he and some of the disciples were fishing on the Sea of Galilee. 

As they were fishing, Jesus appeared on the shore of the sea. Although the disciples had caught no fish all day, suddenly Jesus performed a miracle, and they caught so many fish that they were not able to pull them into their boat. Later that day, the disciples and Jesus shared a meal together. As they were eating, Jesus looked at Peter and asked him three times, “Do you love Me?” In asking this question three times, which was exactly the number of times Peter had denied Jesus, Jesus was restoring His relationship with Peter. He was giving Peter three more opportunities to confess His love for Jesus. As Peter answered Jesus’ questions with “yes,” each time, Jesus followed up with a command to care for His “sheep.” In other words, Jesus was calling Peter to care for people and tell them about Jesus. As they continued to talk, Jesus gave a familiar command to Peter: Follow Me (verse 20). This was the command that Jesus gave when He called Peter to stop fishing for food and to fish for people instead. In giving this command again, Jesus was calling Peter not to return to his old way of life. He was calling Peter to keep following Him and fishing for people. After all, his life with Jesus was so much better than his old life.

Maybe today, you need the same reminder that Peter needed from Jesus that day. Perhaps when you made the decision to give your life to Christ, you were so excited, ready to leave your old life behind and serve Him. Now, however, you are starting to lose some of that enthusiasm for Him and are tempted to turn back to some of your old habits and ways of life. My friend, don’t revert to your old way of life. Your life with Him is so much better! Keep following Him today.

Moving Toward Action

Take a few moments to think about when you started your journey following Jesus and where you are today. Have you lost your zeal? Have you found yourself wanting to revert back to your old way of living? In your journal, write about what your life was like when you decided to follow Jesus for the first time. Remember the joy, passion, and peace you felt as you trusted Him with your life. May that memory spur you on to continue to keep following Jesus with everything you have. He is so deserving. You cannot be satisfied anywhere else.