After Jesus rose from the dead, He spent 40 more days proving that He is alive and preparing His followers to continue His mission after He returned to heaven to be with His Father. In Unit 27, kids will study the time between Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension.
Session 3 presents the story “Jesus Forgives and Restores” from 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 where Jesus had called four of His disciples to be fishers of men. (See Luke 5:1-11.) The disciples went fishing. Perhaps they felt it reasonable to return to the fishing business since their stint as 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 by 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 urged them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They obeyed, and they were unable to haul in the big catch!
John knew right away who He was. “It is the Lord!” John exclaimed. Peter immediately tied his outer garment around him and jumped into the sea, swimming 300 feet to shore. 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 He turned to Peter.
John 21:15-19 describes Peter’s restoration. The disciple who told Jesus that he would die for Him (Luke 22:31-34) had denied Jesus three times. (Luke 22:54-62) Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Jesus. Each time Peter responded yes, Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs. Jesus restored Peter to ministry.
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.
How do you feel knowing that Jesus forgives you and gives you a mission? Leave a comment below.
Here is more help for leaders preparing for the November 5, 2017 session (Unit 27, Session 3) of The Gospel Project for Kids.
Alyssa Jones has been a content editor for The Gospel Project for Kids since 2011. She lives with her husband, Nate, and their two kids in Nashville, TN. Alyssa volunteers with the kids’ ministry at Refuge Church, a church plant in Franklin, TN.