fresco of eagle of St. John

Studying John 21 1-14

This week we’re reading and reflecting on John 21:1-14, the beginning of the story of Jesus meeting some of the disciples on the beach at the Sea of Galilee – after rising from the dead, this is. We studied this text about five years ago; those notes are here.

A few additional observations this time around:

  • The verb “to go fishing” in Greek sounds a whole lot like our word (and the Hebrew word) “Hallelujah!” Weirdly, this word only shows up in the New Testament this once. Weirdly, that is, now that I’m noticing it, because we have been told that the disciples are fishermen. (That noun shows up a bit more often.)
  • There are a bunch of [three] different words for “fish” in this story. Does that mean anything?
  • In v5, the way this conversation is going, it could almost sound like Jesus (whom the disciples don’t recognize) is asking them for a handout: “You-all don’t have any food, do you?” “No, man, sorry …” “Well, check out the right side of the boat …”
  • This story should probably remind us of another time the disciples thought they didn’t have any food, back in John 6. They ate fish then, too. The specific kind mentioned in vv9, 10, and 13 here. These stories in John are the only place they eat this specific kind of fish, as a matter of fact. “Little fish” or “fish bits” or something like that, evidently. That particular detail highlights what a distinctively Johannine story this is. Whether it means anything more than that, I don’t know.
  • In light of that point about the fish, and John 6, why is Andrew missing from this group?? [I also find that curious, since Andrew is a significant character in John’s stories, usually, and is also good at finding things, like bread and fish, and Peter. Again, does this mean anything?]
  • And does it mean anything that Simon Peter casts himself into the sea, in v7, the way the group cast their nets into the sea in v6?
  • With his clothes on? Like someone being baptized?
  • V13 is the closest thing to a communion meal in John’s gospel, eh? Again, unless we count John 6.

So … could this be a story about church? Just wondering …

This text, together with its second part (verses 15-19, which we’re looking more closely at next week) is in the lectionary Bible, btw, for the Third Sunday of Easter in Year C.

Images: “Feuchtwangen_Pfarrkirche_-_Vorhalle_Fresko_Evangelist_Johannes” (cropped), Wolfgang Sauber, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons “Morning Repast – Loaves and Fishes,” Matson Collection, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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