Thanks for bringing your kids this week to study the lesson from The Gospel Project® for Kids. This week’s Bible story is found in John 21:1-19.
After Jesus’ resurrection and His appearance to the disciples, seven of the disciples returned to Galilee, near the Sea of Galilee. It was the same sea where Jesus had called four of His disciples, promising to make them fishers of men. (See Luke 5:1-11.) Simon Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples decided to go fishing. Perhaps they felt it prudent to return to the fishing business since Jesus had died and resurrected. Their stint as His disciples was apparently over—or so they thought!
In Bible times, nighttime was the preferred time for fishing. Fish caught at night could be sold fresh in the morning at market. But at daybreak, the disciples had caught nothing. Jesus stood at the shore, but the disciples did not know it was Him. He called to them, “Men, you don’t have any fish, do you?” (John 21:5). Then He encouraged them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They obeyed, and they were unable to haul in the catch because of the large number of fish.
John, the disciple Jesus loved, knew right away who He was. “It is the Lord!” John exclaimed. Immediately, Peter tied his outer garment around him and jumped into the sea, swimming to shore about 300 feet away. When the other six disciples arrived in the boat, they found Jesus sitting beside a charcoal fire with fish and bread. “Come and have breakfast,” Jesus said. Jesus ate with His disciples, then turned to Peter.
John 21:15-19 describes Peter’s restoration. The disciple who had told Jesus that he would die for Him (Luke 22:31-34) had denied Jesus three times. (Luke 22:54-62) Jesus asked, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” Peter responded, “Yes, Lord. You know that I love you.” Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs. Two more times Jesus asked this question, and on the third time, it grieved Peter. “Lord, You know everything! You know that I love You,” Peter said. (John 21:17) “Feed My sheep,” Jesus said again, and then told Peter how Peter would die to glorify God. “Follow Me!” Jesus said. (John 21:19)
Emphasize to the kids you teach that Jesus’ plan for the disciples did not end with His death and resurrection. When Jesus first called the disciples to follow Him, Jesus had promised to make them fishers of men. Instead of catching fish, they would tell people about Jesus. (Luke 5:1-11) The disciples had left Jesus when He was arrested, but Jesus still wanted to use them in God’s plan to rescue people from their sin. Jesus is a Lord who forgives us and makes things right again.
Ask kids to write or draw about a time that they needed to forgive a friend on a sheet of paper. Guide them to fold the paper into an airplane and throw it as far away as they can. Explain that forgiving someone is like writing what he did on an airplane and never worrying about it again. Review John 21:1-19. When Jesus was arrested, His closest friends ran away. Jesus showed them that He had forgiven them, He still loved them, and He wanted them to follow Him. Sometimes we make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean that God no longer wants to use us in His plan! Jesus is a Lord who forgives us and makes things right again.