When They Had Dined

John 21:15‑22  •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
John 21:15-22
Following upon the scene at the lakeside, the disciples, when they come to land, find a fire of coals, fish laid thereon and bread, and an invitation to come and dine. Rich provision had been made for their needs, apart from all their efforts.
When they had dined we have the closing scene in which Peter and John again have a special place, and for the fifth time John is described as the disciple whom Jesus loved (v. 20). First we have the Lord's tender dealings with the man that trusted in his own love. Peter, who had said he was ready to go with the Lord to prison and death, had found that he was not ready to stand before the simple question of a serving maid. But of the actual denial, no word is said in this touching scene. The solemn breakdown had been dealt with between the Lord and His servant in a private interview. All we know of that interview is the statement of the eleven, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon," confirmed long after by the Apostle Paul, when he wrote to the Corinthians that the risen Christ "was seen of Cephas [Peter], then of the twelve." Wonderful love that with tender mercy gave the first interview to the most failing disciple!
If, however, in the first interview his conscience was relieved, in this scene his heart is restored. There the Lord had dealt with the outward failure; here He deals with the inward root that caused the failure. The root was confidence in his love to Christ, and the threefold question thoroughly exposes this root. It is as if the Lord said, "After all that has happened, do you still maintain, Peter, that you love Me more than these?" With the second question, the Lord says nothing of the other disciples. It is simply now, "Lovest thou Me?" With the third question, the Lord, using a different word, asks, "Art thou attached to Me?" (J.N.D. Trans.) By his third answer Peter puts himself entirely into the Lord's hands, saying, "Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I am attached to Thee." It is as if Peter said, "I cannot trust my love, or talk of my love or what I will do, but Lord, You know all things, and You know my heart; I will leave You to estimate my love and tell me what to do."
No longer is Peter telling the Lord in self-confidence what he is capable of. Rather it is the Lord, in infinite grace, telling His restored disciple what He will enable him to do. The Lord, as it were, says, "You no longer trust in your love to do great things for Me; you have left it to Me; then go forth and 'Feed My sheep' (v. 17); 'Glorify God' (v. 19); and 'Follow Me' (v. 19)."
The Lord seems to say, "There was a time when you thought you loved Me more than these other disciples; now go forth and show your love by feeding My sheep that I love. You thought to glorify yourself above others by prison and death; now go forth to prison and death to glorify God, and when all is over down here, still follow Me far into the depths of glory where I am going." May we say that not the least wonderful of all the wonders of the Lord's life is the way He deals with a failing disciple?
But what of John? "Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following." The man who trusted in his own love and had broken down, needed restoring grace, and the exhortation, "Follow Me." Not so the man who was resting in the love of the Lord, for he was "following."
Thus, in the disciple whom Jesus loved, we see set forth the blessed results that follow for those who rest in the love of the Lord. They
Dwell in nearness to, and intimacy with, the Lord;
Are ready to be used in the service of the Lord; Will make spiritual progress;
Will have spiritual discernment; and
Will follow close to the Lord.
May it be our happy portion, like the bride of the Song of Solomon, to say, "I am my Beloved's, and His desire is toward me." If we can say little of our love to Him, we can safely boast of His love to us. It is the privilege of the youngest believer to say, "I am a disciple whom Jesus loves," and the oldest and most advanced disciple can say nothing greater, for all blessing is found in His all embracing love which led Him to die for us, so that we, too, might go forth, in our small way, to feed His sheep, to glorify God, and to follow Him into the glory where He is gone.