The Breakfast By The Sea
( Originally Published 1915 )
ON THE NIGHT before the death of Jesus, at the supper he had said to the twelve disciples, "After I have risen from the dead, I will go before you to Galilee." And after rising from his tomb, he had said to the women, "Go and tell my disciples that I will meet them on the mountain in Galilee." This mountain was Kurn Hattin, near the Sea of Galilee, where in the year before, he had preached his great "Sermon on the Mount."
The word that Jesus would show himself to all who believed on him, on this mountain in Galilee, led the followers of Jesus from all parts of the land to go to Galilee and to this mountain. They waited near that place for some days without seeing Jesus.
One morning seven of the eleven disciples of Jesus were on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. These seven men were Simon Peter, James and John, Thomas, Nathanael (who was also called Bartholomew, which means "son of Tolmai "), and two other disciples, whose names have not been given.
While they were standing by the lake, Peter felt a longing for his old work as a 'fisherman, and he said to the others:
"I am going fishing."
He thought that while they were waiting for Jesus to come, they might also do some work. The other six men said:
"We will go fishing with you."
They went out in the boat, and fished all night, but caught nothing. The next morning, just as the day was breaking, they saw a man standing on the shore.
"Boys," called out this man, "have you caught anything?"
"No," they answered him.
" Throw out your net on the right side of the boat," said the stranger, "and you will find some fish."
They threw out the net as the man told them, and at once it was filled with large fish, so full that they could not at first haul it in. Then John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, said to Peter:
"That is our Lord!"
When Simon Peter heard that this man on the shore was the Lord Jesus, he slipped on his coat—for he had taken it off while working—and leaped into the water to swim ashore. The other disciples came ashore in a smaller boat, dragging the net, full of fish; for they were not more than a hundred yards from the beach.
When they landed on the shore, they saw a char-coal fire burning, with some fish cooking upon it and some bread beside it. Jesus said :
"Bring some of the fish that you have caught."
Peter went to the boat and pulled the net ashore, full of large fish. They counted them afterward, and found that they numbered one hundred and fifty-three; but although there were so many, the net was not torn anywhere. Jesus said to them:
"Come and have breakfast."
They sat down on the beach beside the fire; and Jesus passed the bread around to them, and also the broiled fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was seen by his disciples after rising from the dead; for he had already appeared to them on two Sunday evenings in Jerusalem; and in all, this was the seventh appearance of Jesus after his rising from the dead.
After they had eaten their breakfast, and were still sitting together, Jesus said to Simon Peter :
"Simon, son of Jonas. do you love me more than the others?"
"Why, Master," answered Peter, "you know that I am your friend."
"Then," said Jesus, "feed my lambs."
There was a moment's pause, and then Jesus a second time asked Peter:
"Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?"
"Yes, Master," he replied; "you know that I am your friend."
"Then," said Jesus, "be a shepherd to my sheep." Then, a third time, Jesus asked him :
"Simon, son of Jonas, are you my friend?"
Peter felt hurt that his third question was "Are you my friend?" and not "Do you love me?" and he answered :
"Master, you know everything? You know that I am your friend!"
"Then feed my sheep," said Jesus; and he went on, "1 tell you in truth, when you were young you put your own girdle around your waist, and went wherever you chose. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands for someone else to put a girdle around you, and you will be taken where you do not wish to go."
Then Jesus added, "Follow me."
As Peter on the night of his Master's trial had three times denied that he knew Jesus or was his disciple, so now Jesus wished him to say three times before them all that he was his friend. And when he had spoken this three times, the Lord said to him, as he had said long before by the Sea of Galilee, "Follow me." Thus Simon Peter was again given his old place among the disciples of Jesus.
What Jesus said to Peter about stretching out his hands and being carried where he did not wish to go, was spoken as a prophecy or foretelling of the manner by which Peter should die for the sake of Christ. Nearly forty years after that time, when Peter was an old man, he was put to death at Rome by being crucified as Jesus had been. It is said that when he was about to be fastened upon the cross, he said to the soldiers, that one who had denied his Master as he had, was not worthy of dying in the same manner as Jesus had died; and he begged them to set up his cross with his head down-ward toward the ground; and thus Peter died.
But to go back to that breakfast by the Sea of Galilee, after those words had been spoken by Jesus to Peter, he looked at John, who was standing near. Peter and John, though very different in their natures, loved each other greatly. In the story of Jesus and his disciples, and in the days that came after, we find that almost always Peter and John were together. Seeing John, Peter said to Jesus :
"Master, you have told me about myself; now tell what this man shall do."
But Jesus said to Peter:
"If I choose that he shall wait until I come back to earth, what has that to do with you? Do you follow me, as I said."
John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, lived a long time after that day. When all the rest of the twelve disciples of Jesus had died—nearly all of them were slain by enemies of Christ—John was still living. And from these words of Jesus many thought that John would not die. But Jesus did not say that John would not die. He only said that if he chose to let John live until he, Jesus, came again, it was not Peter's matter, but the Lord's.