Explore the Bible Study: Do You Love Me?

6:42 PM


Restoring an object like an old car is difficult, yet it can be accomplished because it can’t run or hide. Restoring a person who has failed to live out their faith in Christ, on the other hand, is much more challenging, because most (of us) will run and hide. Yet Christ desires to restore us if/when we fail.  This Explore the Bible Study: Do You Love Me? focuses on the final chapter of the gospel of John and Simon Peter's  need to be restored.

Jesus used a post-resurrection appearance at the Sea of Galilee to restore the disciple Peter following his denials. The passage of study includes John 21:3-23 where we find Simon Peter on a fishing trip, and we find Jesus intentionally seeking him out in order to begin the restoration process.

As you examine the passage, consider your own possible need to repent and be restored. Then consider how God invites you to be a part of helping others who are in need of restoration.

Jesus seeks out those who need to be restored—John 21:3-7a

Previously, in John 20, Jesus had seen the disciples the night of His resurrection, and then eight days later when he had his conversation with Thomas. Those appearances all occurred in Jerusalem.  We are not sure how much time has passed, but as per instructions given the disciples by Jesus (See Matthew 28:10) they left Jerusalem and headed to the Sea of Galilee. At some point, Peter and six other disciples decided to go fishing on the Sea of Galilee as they waited for Jesus to meet them again.

The Bible does not describe the reason for them going fishing so anything we assume might be speculation. However, we do know that Simon Peter is the instigator of this fishing trip. 

These men had fished all night, during what would have been the peak time to catch fish, but had caught nothing! Then Jesus showed up, unrecognized by the disciples, yelled out to them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. Amazingly they caught more fish than they could haul in! It is at this point that John (“the one Jesus loved”) pointed out to Peter that it was Jesus—“It is the Lord”—on the shore.

When you have done something that hurt your relationship with someone, how do you respond to them the next time you see them?

Read Luke 22:31-34 and Luke 22:60-62. If you were carrying the guilt of denying Christ and He was standing on shore, how would you have responded if you were Peter? Would you feel as if you had failed to the point that you could no longer have a relationship with Jesus or ever be considered worthy of service by Him?

When you know you have violated your commitment to Christ, in what ways might you “go fishing” in order to avoid an encounter with Christ?

This event mirrored one of Peter’s initial experiences with Jesus prior to accepting His call as described in Luke 5:5-11. On that previous fishing trip, Jesus had called Peter to follow Him and stated that Peter would become a "fisher of men.” But now, surely Peter had doubts as to whether he was able or even worthy to fulfill what Jesus said he would become because he had denied Jesus three times. 

Yet Jesus did seek out Peter specifically and personally so that He could be restored, but that restoration would require a response from Peter as it does from all those who desire to be restored.

Restoration is personal but requires a response—John 21:7b-14

How would you describe the actions of Jesus at this point? What caused Peter to respond as he did to Jesus? What other responses might Peter have chosen? What can you learn from Peter’s response at this point as you consider how he had failed Jesus in the past?

Realizing this was Jesus, Peter swam to shore while the others brought along the boat and fish. Jesus already had a fire going and invited them to join Him for breakfast. What a picture of Jesus’ love for his disciples and Simon Peter's hunger, not for fish, but to spend time with the resurrected Christ, even though he had failed Christ so many times. Simon Peter did not give up when he failed. He continued to pursue a relationship with Jesus Christ. 

We can learn from Simon’s response. While we may feel guilty and might even try to “go fishing,” when Christ reveals Himself to us, our hunger for a healthy relationship with Him will result in a response like Peter’s: to get to Jesus and follow His instructions as quickly as we can.

After Jesus and the disciples ate breakfast together, the focus of the story moves to a one-on-one conversation between Jesus and Peter that challenges Peter to examine his love for Christ.

Restoration requires us to examine if we truly love Christ—John 21:15-17

John used varying verbs and vocabulary in His conversation with Peter. While some might try to draw distinctions between the questions, what we need to remember is the number of times Jesus asked Peter a question – three. 

Jesus’ restoration of Peter meant that Peter would not be put on the shelf. God had a plan for him. Peter was to pursue the purpose and plan God had for him. Jesus also gave Peter the opportunity to express his love for Him and reaffirmed His love for Peter and His desire to use Peter in His ongoing mission. 

Suppose you had failed Jesus and He stood before you and asked you, “Do you love me?” How would you respond? What would Jesus say next to you about the purpose you have as a believer? How would He expect you to express your love for Him?

Genuine love for Jesus results in obedience to His commands, and chief among those commands is to love God and love others. The example of Peter gives hope to all Christians who have failed in a moment of weakness or failed to stand up for Jesus out of fear. Peter’s restoration was complete when he repented and reaffirmed his love for Jesus. We demonstrate that our love for the Lord Jesus is genuine when we repent of our sin and return to following Jesus and serving Him.

Following Peter’s three affirmations of his love for Jesus, the Lord predicted his future arrest and martyrdom. Peter did not question his future; rather he turned his attention to another disciple and wanted to know what would happen to that follower. This should remind us that restoration is personal, and we should not compare how Jesus might restore us versus another person.

Restoration is personal, so don’t compare—John 21:18-23

Have you ever wondered why certain individuals have maybe a “better” purpose or a different purpose or calling than you? 

Does it bother you that someone who might have experienced vast failure in his/her Christian walk has a seemingly more successful restoration experience as compared to you? 

What does Jesus’ response to Peter teach you about how you should respond when someone else is restored?

We can sometimes lose focus on God’s will for our lives by comparing God’s plan for us with His plan for others. The humble disciple trusts God’s wisdom and plan for his or her life. Even when we do not understand the purpose, we know our God is in control and that we can trust Him with our lives.

Your Restoration

Think back on a past failure to obey Christ. What did you want to do after that failure?

Think of someone you know who has failed Christ. What can you do to help this person understand Jesus will offer forgiveness and restoration?

Are you willing to discuss your failures with Jesus, or do you “go fishing”?

Satan likes nothing better than to further discourage faltering believers from serving the Lord. The Lord Jesus, on the other hand, desires to restore any of His followers who falter. Seek His restoration today. Pray and encourage those you know who have failed to seek restoration.

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. 

Download PDF Version

Download Word Version

LifeWay Explore The Bible Resources

These teaching helps are intended to be used as a supplement to your study of Lifeway's Explore the Bible curriculum resources. Portions of this material are taken directly from content copyrighted to Lifeway Christian Resources Explore the Bible and is used with permission.  This material has not been reviewed by Lifeway Christian Resources. 

You Might Also Like


Popular Posts

Like us on Facebook

Latest From Twitter