“Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”” (John 21:4-15)
After his resurrection, Jesus will come to the apostles on a number of occasions while making the final preparations for his ascension. The third occasion is described here.
Peter, John, and others are out fishing, and have not had anything to show for it. Jesus tells them to cast their net out the right side of the boat and immediately the net is filled to overflowing with more than 150 fish.
When Peter and the others come to the shore, knowing that it is Jesus waiting for them, they prepare to sit down and eat with him. While they are eating, Jesus asks Peter a question: “Do you love me more than these?”
The question is both interesting and important. He uses the Greek word “agape” for love. It means to love in a self-sacrificial, revering way enough to put another first. Jesus asks Peter if he loves him enough to give up the fish, which he had caught as his work and livelihood his whole life.
Peter responds: “Yes, Lord; you know I love (The Greek word “phileo”) you.” Peter says that he has such an emotional, brotherly attachment to Jesus, and that he will do so for the Lord. As the conversation continues in the next few verses, Jesus shows Peter just how much he will give to follow Christ.
However, the question Jesus asked of Peter is still asked of us today. Jesus is still asking man: “Do you love me more than _____?” Do we love him more than our job, money, possessions, friends, family, or life? Are we truly willing to move all that behind him and make him first in our lives? Do we love him?