Breakfast with Jesus

Day 39

John 20 & 21

John gives us some of the same reports of the resurrection as Matthew, Mark and Luke; e.g. the women at the tomb seeing angels and later meeting the risen Lord, and Jesus appearing to the disciples in the evening. But John, as is his wont, also gives us things no other gospel writer reports; most notably a detailed account of a post-resurrection appearance of Jesus in Galilee. I call this episode, “Breakfast with Jesus.”

The “breakfast with Jesus” encounter centers around Peter. I think Peter had mixed emotions after the resurrection. Of course Peter was glad that Jesus was alive, but don’t forget that on the night of Jesus’ betrayal, Peter had failed miserably. Peter and John and followed Jesus after His arrest to the house of Caiaphas…John following closely and Peter lagging further behind. Because John came from a prominent family which was well known to the high priest, he was able to gain admittance into the courtyard. John then made a request on Peter’s behalf, and he also was allowed into the courtyard. And that’s where it happened. The denial. Not once, not twice, but three times…and with an oath…Peter denied Christ.

Remember that John was there when Peter’s courage failed and was a witness to what happened. Even as an old man John remembered certain aspects of that night in vivid detail. John remembered that is was cold. Most April nights in Jerusalem are cold — often in the forties or colder. And John remembers there was a fire built in the courtyard — a fire of coals. It’s one word in Greek: anthrakia. This is only used twice in the New Testament and it means a bed of hot coals. The kind of fire that is good to warm yourself by on a cold night. And it was while Peter stood around the hot fire of coals on a cold night that he three times denied Jesus.

And the rooster crowed.

And Peter went out and wept bitterly.

Yes, Jesus was alive…but where did Peter stand with Him. Peter wasn’t sure. As Jesus had instructed them, the disciples had left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee. To do what? Who knows? They were just waiting…something Peter was never very good at. Finally Peter couldn’t stand it and said, “I’m going fishing.”

So Peter and six other fishermen/apostles spent the night fishing. Peter was a successful professional fisherman, so this didn’t happen very often, but that night they caught nothing. Nada, nunca, zip, zilch. It had happened once before. Three years earlier on the night before Jesus called Peter to be His disciple. Deja vu.

In the morning there’s a man on the shore asking if they have any fish. No. He gives some advise and they catch 153 big ones! John says, “It’s the Lord!” And Peter swims to Jesus (I wonder if he thought, “One time I walked on water to be with Jesus.”?). When they had hauled the catch ashore, Jesus called them to breakfast and when they came they found…a fire of coals. An anthrakia. That bed of coals. Jesus had recreated the scene of the crime. I’m quite sure that Peter ate his breakfast with a troubled mind.

After breakfast there was a conversation between Jesus and Peter. It went like this.*

* This is an interpretive and dramatized paraphrase of their conversation. It will help you catch an often overlooked, but very important element in their conversation. Though most English translations use the word “love” six times in their conversation, there are actually two different Greek words used in their conversation (agapao twice, phileo four times) and they have different meanings.

Jesus: Simon son of Jonah, do you really have a greater love for Me than the rest of these disciples do?

Peter: Lord, You know I’m your friend.

Jesus: Feed My sheep.

Jesus: Simon son of Jonah, do you have unfailing love for Me?

Peter: Lord, You know I’m your friend.

Jesus: Take care of My sheep.

Jesus: Simon son of Jonah, are you my friend?

Peter: (Very upset) Lord, You know everything and You know I’m your friend!

Jesus: Feed My sheep.

(Jesus and Peter talk some more)

Jesus: Follow Me.

Do you say what Jesus did? Three times Peter had denied Jesus (after boasting that the others might, but he never would). So three times Jesus made Peter profess His friendship. Peter couldn’t claim to have unfailing love for Jesus — because he had failed — but Peter could honestly confess that he was a friend of Jesus. And this was enough. Jesus restored Peter and than repeated His original call: “Follow Me.”

The call remains the same…even when we fail.

Thank you, Jesus.


This completes our journey through the gospels. Tomorrow we enter our Holy Week journey with Jesus. I’m very excited about it! It will be life changing…I guarantee!

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday. See you in church. Come ready to shout HOSANNA (yashana).