Jesus appears to the disciples by the sea

Hear the word:  John 21:1-13


(1.)  Children will tell the re-tell the story of Jesus’ appearance to the disciples, and will explore how the disciples might have felt as they encountered Jesus.

(2.)  Children will reflect on Jesus’ decision to share breakfast with his disciples.


(1.)  Tell the story.  Consider filling a tub with water to create a sea of Galilee.  Or, use Godly Play materials (felt, etc.) to create a boat.  Here are some questions (from Sonja Stewart’s Following Jesus) to get you ‘wondering:’

I wonder how the disciples feel when Jesus doesn’t seem to be around anymore?

I wonder why they decide to go fishing>

I wonder how they feel fishing all night and catching nothing?

I wonder how the person on the beach knows where the fish are?

I wonder how the disciples know the person on the beach is Jesus?

I wonder what Jesus and the disciples are saying to each other?

I wonder what they will do now that they have talked to Jesus again?

Here are some coloring sheets that depict scenes from the story.

(2.)  Explore the setting:  The sea of Galilee is a freshwater lake (Israel’s largest) that is about 13 miles long and 8 miles wide.  Imagine together the life of a fisherman in Jesus’ time.

A few details about fishermen in first century Israel:

The cast net is circular, about 20 feet in diameter, with weights of lead attached to the border. One man usually flings the net in a round circle from the shore but it is also done from boats. It required great skill since it had to open completely when it landed on the water trapping the fish underneath it. Peter and Andrew were occupied with this type of fishing when Jesus— summons came to them. The weights come together as the nets sink and encircle the fish. Sometimes, the fishermen on a boat had to jump into the water to retrieve the net and so they often fished naked. They were probably fishing with cast nets when they spied Jesus standing on the shore (Jn 21:7).

Fishing in Galilee was a thriving industry. Fish was the main source of protein, and the market for fish extensive. The population of Palestine at the time of Jesus was about 500,000. The ordinary masses depended on fish along with bread as a staple food. Satisfying the epicurean appetites of the upper classses at home and abroad with dried fish was a profitable business.

Jesus entrusted fishermen from Bethsaida with the spreading of his message. They were the ones he commissioned to be fishers of men and to teach all nations. He may have done this for practical reasons. These were savvy businessmen. They were multilingual. Their native tongue was Aramaic. They would also have known Hebrew. A knowledge of Greek would have been essential for people like Peter and his co-workers who were involved in the fishing business. The gospels themselves suggest that they were able to carry on conversations with Greek speakers the Syro-Phoenician woman (Mk 7:26), people in the Decapolis where the curing of the deaf man took place (Mk 7:31), and the incident of Philip and Andrew conversing with the Greeks (Jn 12:20-23). They may also have had a smattering of Latin. Peter converses with the Roman centurion, Cornelius (Acts 10:25).

(3.)  Make a boat:  Here are instructions for making paper boats.  Consider re-enacting vv. 4-8 with the paper boats.

(4.) Breakfast:  Depict the fish and bread breakfast on paper plates.  Talk about the meal that Jesus shared with his disciples.  Why was it important to Jesus that they eat together?    Does Jesus still eat with his friends?  How?

I have a 12 minute video for our 4th & 5th grade class, which explores Peter’s faith and calling as a disciple.   I will leave the video in your classroom.


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