Now He appears at the Sea of Galilee. The disciples fished all night to no avail. Then Jesus miraculously provides a great haul of fish.
This catch is a picture of the great number of people who will become followers of Jesus when He sends out the disciples as ‘fishers of men’.
The conversation with Peter that takes place after the meal on the shore of the lake must be understood against the background of the threefold denial of Peter. Three times Peter denied that he knew Jesus when He was being interrogated in the house of the high priest.
Jesus now asks Peter three times if Peter loves Him. Three times Peter answers in the affirmative, albeit with the weaker expression:
‘You know I love you'.
Peter came to know himself as one who was unfaithful to Jesus when it came down to it. That humbled him.
Jesus demonstrates His forgiving love for Peter, restoring him to the office of an apostle; He commands him to be a shepherd for His sheep. The followers of Jesus are here compared to a flock of sheep.
In verses 18 and 19 Jesus indicates that following Him will cost Peter his life.
In 2 Peter 1 verse 14 it appears that Peter also understood it this way:
‘Because I know that the breaking down of my tent will now take place quickly, as our Lord Jesus Christ also made clear to me’.
Peter now accepts the consequence of following Jesus.
Faith in Jesus is tested, as metal is purified or tested in fire. In the letters that Peter writes to the congregations of Christ some 30 years later, he tells them ‘not to be shocked at the fiery trial of their faith’, because following Jesus Christ means sharing in His suffering, then also to share in His glory and victory over death.
He exhorts believers to be always ‘prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect'.
1 Peter 3 verse 15.
As a shepherd of Christ’s sheep, he also calls others to tend the flock of God, to be vigilant against the temptation of the devil, and to be an example to the flock.
After the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, He appears several times in the flesh to His disciples.