Strange doings in John 21

Strange doings in John 21 July 17, 2006

Some oddities of the narrative of John 21. Peter, we’re told, has stripped, apparently to make it easier to do his fishing. When he hears that Jesus is on the shore, he puts ON his outer robe and throws himself into the sea. As a practical matter, this doesn’t make much sense; he’d be able to swim better without the outer robe. As a symbolic act, it makes a lot of sense at a number of levels: Peter is about to be re-installed as an apostolic shepherd, and prior to that he puts on a robe of investiture; the sea being an image of the Gentiles, Peter is a Jonah throwing Himself into ministry to the world; it appears also to be a baptismal scene, with Peter restored by washing and investiture to table fellowship and ministry with Jesus.

After he throws himself into the water, the next time we see Peter he is dragging the net of 153 fish onto the shore. This is a bit surprising, since the ships were having trouble dragging the net to the shore. After investiture and baptism, however, Peter becomes Superman, dragging the net single-handedly to the beach.

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