Bible Story: (John 21: 1-19)
Text Truth: We, like Peter, have sinned, but Jesus loves and forgives us.
Memory Verse: Matthew 4:19
Peter was one of Jesus’ disciples. In the past few days of our story, Peter has been through a lot. Jesus, Peter’s leader, had been crucified. Peter was so scared that he denied he even knew Jesus three different times. Peter also then saw the resurrected Jesus twice when He appeared before the other disciples.
One day shortly after these things happened, Peter decided to go fishing with a few of the other disciples. I am sure Peter took this time to think about a lot of different things.
Question: What do you think Peter thought about while fishing?
Questions: Do you think Peter felt sad for denying Jesus? (Yes. Luke 22:61-62 tells us that when Peter realized what he did, he started to cry very hard. While fishing, Peter may have been thinking about how badly he had messed up.)
Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James, John, and two other disciples were out fishing all night long. They didn’t catch anything—-not one, single fish!
Question: How many fish have you ever caught on one fishing trip?
When morning came, there was a man standing on the shore looking at the disciples out on the sea. This man was Jesus, but the disciples didn’t know who it was. Jesus called out to the disciples and asked, “Children, did you catch anything to eat?” They sadly answered, “No.”
Jesus then said, “Cast your fishing net on the right side of the boat and you will find some fish.”
Imagine: Close your eyes and imagine you were Peter. Your job before Jesus called you to follow Him was fishing. You are an expert when it comes to anything about boats, fishing nets, the right time to fish, and fish. You have been out ALL night long casting your net and pulling it back in to find ZERO fish. You are smelly, tired and hungry. You decided that there are just no fish in this area today and are ready to go home. THEN, a complete stranger on land tells you to cast your net on the other side of the boat to find fish. How do you think this would make you feel?
No matter how Peter may have felt, the Bible tells us that he and the disciples decided to throw their nets in the sea one last time. This time, so many fish filled the net that the disciples couldn’t even pull it into the boat! They had caught a total of 153 fish and yet the net didn’t break! When they saw the miracle that happened, they realized that it was Jesus on the shore.
While the other disciples started turning the boat to head to shore, Peter could not wait any longer. He was too excited to see Jesus that he jumped into the water and swam to shore!
When they all got to the shore, Jesus had started a fire and asked for some of the fish to cook. After they had eaten, Jesus asked Peter, “Peter, do you love Me?”
Peter said, “Yes, Lord, You know I love You.”
“Feed My lambs,” Jesus told him.
Jesus asked Peter a second and third time, “Peter, do you love Me?”
Peter was very sad that Jesus asked him this three times. He said, “Lord, You know everything and You know that I love You.”
Jesus told him, “Feed My sheep.” Jesus was telling Peter that even though he had messed up, he was forgiven. Jesus still loved Peter and had a special job for him. Jesus wanted Peter to care for and teach Jesus’s followers after Jesus went back to Heaven.
Even though we sin and mess up, Jesus loves and forgives us just like He did for Peter. This is such amazing news! We can show Jesus how much we love Him by serving and praising Him.
1)Feed The Sheep Activity
Supplies: square snack size plastic bags, cotton balls, wiggle eyes, glue, permanent marker.
Do & Say: Give every child two plastic bags. Guide them to fill one plastic bag with cotton balls (be careful not to overfill it). The other bag is for them to turn into a sheep by adding wiggle eyes, a nose and a mouth.
Ask, “What did Jesus mean when he asked Peter to ‘feed My sheep’?” (To care for and teach other Christians.) Have the kids think of some ways they can be an encouragement to other Christians this week/month (write a letter, do outside work for the elderly, make a special phone call, etc.)
Every time a child does something to “feed Jesus’ sheep,” they get to take a cotton ball from the plain bag and “feed” it to their sheep by placing it in the sheep bag.
“Jesus gave Peter a really important task when He asked Peter to feed His sheep. Peter had sinned, but Jesus loved and forgave him, just like he does for us.”
2) Fishing Game
Supplies: string, pretzel rods, goldfish crackers, cream cheese
Do: Tie the pretzel rod to the end of a piece of string. Dip the end of the pretzel in cream cheese and give one to each child (and adult). Place the goldfish crackers on the table or a tray where everyone can reach them. Set a timer and see how many “fish” each person can catch!
Discuss: After several rounds of the game, enjoy your “catch” while talking through today’s lesson.
ACTIVITY SHEET LINKS (Click the link to download a printable pdf)