Some thoughts on John 21

Original end of John’s gospel is chapter 20 with the words;

“Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 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 epilogue, an appendix dealing with “unfinished business”. The result of thinking about John’s account of Jesus (Theology)

As always with John, what you read is not always what is obvious. The text is packed full of allusions and hidden meaning.

Reference to Tiberias: John knew Palestinian geography. Mt, Mk and Lk were not so accurate. Tiberias founded by Herod Antipas around CE 20. Jesus, as a well esteemed carpenter, may well have been involved in the building of this city which is about 6 miles from Nazareth. Interestingly, this city, and Sepphoris, both on the eastern shore of the lake (the “gentile” shore) became the centres where the early Hasidic Rabbis built up the post destruction of Jerusalem Jewish faith. Again, both Christianity and Judaism have the same roots, even in New Testament times!

John is the only one to use this name. Indicates late writing of Gospel (95 – 100 CE) and lets us know that Jesus is on well known territory. Also, the angel at the empty tomb tells Magdalene that Jesus will meet the disciples in Galilee.

How long after the resurrection are the events in this story? Long enough for Peter and the other disciples mentioned in the story to go back to earning their living. They seem to be at a loss as to what to do! After declaring “My Lord and my God!” with Thomas – they still don’t really seem to know what their mission is!

They go fishing. We are not really surprised when (without Jesus) they catch nothing. With Jesus, they catch 153 fish (lots!!). Net does not break – no “schism” in the catch.

They are not certain (apart from the “beloved disciple”) that it is the Lord.

Ghosts don’t cook breakfast!

In the breaking of the bread, they know who it is – Emmaus experience. The mission makes sense.

Story moves on the Peter. “Do you love me more than these?” Three times, one for each previous denial. The mission is to “feed my sheep/lambs”

John’s disciples (who undoubtedly added chapter 21 – possibly after John’s own death) already know about the circumstances of Peter’s death (CE 46 ish) so they add the “prediction” of how Peter is to die.

(C) Bob Birtles 2011