The Last Breakfast

John 21:1-19

If I were to ask you to name a memorable meal that Jesus had with His disciples, most of you, no doubt, would name 'The Last Supper'--the meal they shared together in the upper room before Jesus' arrest. As significant a meal as that was, we would do well to also consider the meal I have termed, 'The Last Breakfast'.

The Last Supper, of course, was last only in the sense that it was the last meal Jesus had with His disciples before His death. To be precise, however, the last recorded meal Jesus had with His disciples was when they ate breakfast together on the shore of the Sea of Galilee in John, chapter 21.

Now, to fully appreciate what transpires in John 21, it is necessary that we recall the instructions Jesus gave to His disciples in Matthew 28. In Matthew 28, the Resurrected Christ appears to the disciples and instructs them to go to Galilee(Mt. 28:10). Not too difficult--Jesus simply says "go to Galilee and sit on this mountain and I'll meet you there"(Mt. 28:16).

This is important because if we were to read Matthew 28 without John 21 one might get the impression that Jesus arrives immediately on the scene in Galilee, but this is not the case. When we are reading Matthew 28, we should all scribble this note after verse 16: "Go and read John 21". For what we have in John 21 fits immediately after Matthew 28, verse 16.

In Matthew 28:16, we understand that the disciples were to go to Galilee, sit on a mountain, and wait for Jesus. In John 21, we read that the disciples do go to Galilee, but evidently, they get tired of waiting for Jesus. For in verse 3, Peter says to the other disciples, "I am going fishing". Tired of sitting on a mountain doing nothing, Peter decides he has "things to do" so he resolves to go fishing and the rest of the disciples decide to join him.

Some commentators argue that something even more profound than catching fish for breakfast is taking place with Peter's decision to go fishing. Many commentators argue that Peter is making a decision to return to his previous occupation. Peter once left his occupation as a fisherman to follow Jesus, but now Jesus was gone--or at least, the risen Jesus wasn't around as often as He used to be.

Either way, it is amazing to read that the disciples didn't catch a single fish. Keep in mind that the Sea of Galilee was the sea that Peter had fished in his entire life. If anyone knew the Sea of Galilee, if anyone knew the swimming patterns of the fish, it was Peter. Yet, the text says "they caught nothing".

Peter disobeys a simple instruction to go sit on a hill and wait. His priorities got messed up. Rather than wait patiently for Jesus, Peter becomes more concerned about being productive. Yet, as Christ often does when we go astray, He prevents Peter from being productive.

Surely, there is a lesson here for us. Jesus gave the disciples instructions to wait, but they took it upon themselves to fish instead. Could it be said of us, that Christ has asked us to serve Him in a particular way, but instead we have become lured into doing work that Christ has not called us, or equipped us, to do?

I am not suggesting that it is wrong to engage in secular work, what I am suggesting is that we consider the priorities Christ lays out for us in His word. And let the divine rebuke to the disciples be a warning to us: What Christ does not ordain, He will not bless. The disciples were not supposed to be fishing; they were supposed to be waiting for Jesus on the hill. And because the disciples were not supposed to be fishing, we should not be surprised to read that "they caught nothing".

Now Jesus doesn't allow us to fail so He can say, "I told you so"; Jesus allows us to fail in order to teach us that true success comes only from Him.

We read, in verse 4, that Jesus called to the disciples from the shore. The disciples, who were about a hundred yards from shore, did not recognize Jesus at the time. Jesus then instructs them to "cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat" and promises that they will catch fish(v.6).

And catch fish they did! They caught so many fish that they struggled to haul them in. This, of course, was a scene familiar to the disciples(Lk. 5:4), and so we read that the disciple "whom Jesus loved said to Peter, 'It is the Lord'"(v.7). When Peter heard this, he put on his outer garment, dove into the sea, and anxiously made his way to shore.

At this point, we must keep in mind the chronic disobedience of Peter. Peter was the one who wrongly insisted that Jesus should not die. Peter was the one who wrongly refused to have his feet washed by Jesus. Peter was the one who promised to never deny Jesus only to do it 3 times after Jesus was arrested. And here, in John 21, Peter fails Jesus by leaving their meeting place to go fishing.

And how does Jesus respond to Peter this time? Does Jesus respond with a sharp rebuke, "I told you to wait for Me on the hill!". No, Jesus did not respond harshly. Rather than greet the disobedient disciples on shore with a whip, Jesus meets them on shore with breakfast(v.12). "Come and have breakfast", Jesus says(v.12), and He proceeds to serve them bread and fish(v.13).

Now I ask you, where did Jesus get the fish and the bread? The disciples had fished all night but caught nothing until Jesus advised them to drop their nets on the right-hand side of the boat. My guess is that Jesus had His own method of fishing and making breakfast. My guess is that when Jesus fishes for breakfast, He requires no equipment, but simply says, 'Breakfast'.

In this account I see two more lessons for us. The first lesson is that Jesus cares about our physical needs. In His earlier days He fed the hungry multitude with bread and fish. He had taught His disciples to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread". And now, He has risen from the dead, and is in His body of glory, and He is still thinking about the hungering bodies of His disciples. Finding that they have caught no fish, He fills their nets and provides them with breakfast.

The second lesson I see here is that Jesus cares about our spiritual needs. I infer this because Jesus refuses to desert the men that have continually deserted Him. Rather than rebuke His disobedient disciples, He helps them fish and serves them breakfast.

There is an application here for us. When we fail Christ, when we fail to devote ourselves wholly to Him, do we hurry back to be restored?

Some of you here today have had a difficult year. Some of you here today have had an extremely busy year. And some of you, in response to your adversity, have wavered in your commitment to Christ.

Some of you have become less regular with your church attendance. Some of you have slackened in your habits of prayer and Bible reading. Some of you have stepped back from your responsibilities to the church. Some of you have pressed on with your duties, but have done so without any Christian joy.

If any of this describes you, hear the good news: You, like Peter, have the opportunity to start over with a clean slate. The time to repent and to re-commit yourself to Christ is now. And I assure you, Christ is waiting for you--not with a whip or a rebuke, but with 'breakfast'. Amen.