When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” John 21:15

Lessons Learned

If you look back a few chapters, you’ll learn that before this exchange between Christ and Peter, Christ had already been crucified, risen from the grave, and had just reappeared to the disciples, reassuring them that He was, in fact, alive. I can only imagine the range of emotions that the disciples experienced.  Shock, joy, awe, and perhaps some confusion too. After all, their King, who certainly didn’t act like or look like a King, had died and just as they were trying to wrap their heads around the fact that He was gone, He returns and then begins to speak of leaving them again. I imagine that Peter was fidgety and unsure of what to do with all his pent-up emotions. Perhaps he needed to clear his head, so he decided to do what was familiar to him, the thing he loved and knew how to do well: fish.  

He called out to his boys, letting them know he was headed out to sea and the other disciples, who were probably feeling just as lost, joined him. I can imagine them out on the boat rehashing the events of the past few days. I can imagine the questions they asked. “Can you believe our Lord is alive? He really is the Son of God!” “But He’s leaving us, and now what are we supposed to do? You know the Pharisees probably want to kill us too.” “What are we supposed to do now?” The Bible says that they fished all night but caught nothing.  

Early that morning, when Jesus was on the shore, He called out to Peter and the other disciples, “Friends, did you catch any fish?” They answered that they had not, so Jesus told them to try again and to throw their nets on the right side of the boat this time, and He assured them that they would find fish. The disciples didn’t recognize Jesus, but maybe because they were tired, or maybe because they had had similar experiences before, they did as Jesus commanded. 

When the disciples lowered the net again, they were amazed by the large amount of fish they caught. Then Jesus called out, “It’s me, Jesus, your Lord!” And guess who jumped into the water to swim to shore? Peter, of course! When the other disciples finally arrived at the shore, Jesus had a fish fry going, and they ate breakfast together there. 

During my visit to Israel in March 2016, I had the opportunity to visit what was presumed to be the remains of Peter’s home. It was located right on the Sea of Galilee. Historians note that Peter’s home was rather large for the average person during that time. It was ideally located and provided the perfect access to the sea. So I’m guessing that Peter did well as a fisherman. He was likely very good at his trade. But one day, he got a call to be a “fisherman of men.” Peter knew that Jesus was extraordinary, that this calling was exceptional, and he couldn’t resist it if he wanted to. So he jumped in headfirst and followed Christ. 

But when things got difficult, and it wasn’t so easy to follow Jesus, Peter fell back into fishing, his modus operandi, the default setting, his tried and true. It was during the times when life was uncertain, when accolades and praise weren’t forthcoming, and when money seemed tight, that Peter’s faith wavered.

When they had finished eating, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” I paused here and pondered what “these” could Jesus be referring to. Was He asking if Peter loved Jesus more than his home, his status, his safety, even more than the thing that Peter loved greatly – fishing? 

“Peter, do you love me more than these?” Perhaps Jesus was saying, “Peter, what I’ve been trying to tell you along is that you have to forsake everything, including fishing, and follow me. And that means following me even in the dark, scary, and ambiguous times. In the hard, frustrating, and challenging times. Even when you’d rather be fishing.”

Lessons Lived

I love the song “I surrender all,” and I belt it out every chance I get. I sing with fervor and passion, and it usually even brings a tear to my eye. But do I really mean all? Do I really give my all freely? Truth be told, in the recesses of my mind, I secretly add on a phrase, “I surrender all except for these.” Sure, I would love to believe that come what may, Christ is first in my life. But what I’ve found is that just like Peter, when things get hard, uncomfortable or unsure, I revert right back to my default setting, to that place where things seemed easier, where I experienced success, where I was happy, where I was sure.  I long for and find comfort in “my these.” And no, my “these” aren’t boats and fishing, but they do the same for me as perhaps fishing did for Peter. My “these” happen to include my family, my comfort foods, my work, and even my writing. My “these” and your “these” are anything (and everything) that keeps us from surrendering all, at all times in every situation to Him! 

And please don’t misunderstand what Christ is asking us to do. He’s not saying we should go without things or people that make us happy or stop doing the things that bring us pleasure. But He is asking if we could give up our “these” without hesitation to accomplish His work, His plans and His purposes. Just as He asked of Peter, He’s asking of us.  Do we choose Him over our “these” from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until His soon coming return?

All my “these” I surrender, all to Him I freely give. Worldly pleasure all forsaken, in His presence daily live. This is my prayer for each of you, as it is my prayer for myself too, as we strive to surrender all, even our “these,” to Jesus Christ our Lord.


  • How does John 21:15 speak to you? 
  • Name the “these” in your life or those things that you could potentially love more than your relationship with Christ?
  • How difficult might it be for you to surrender your “these” for the sake of following Christ?
  • Consider the lyrics to “I Surrender All.” Have you surrendered everything in your life to Christ? Why or why not? If not, what holds you back? What’s most challenging to surrender?
  • What are your personal LIFE Lessons?
    • Liberation:: What new insights have you gained that have freed you from past thoughts or practices? 
    • Inspiration: In what ways have you been spiritually, emotionally or mentally motivated to live for Christ?
    • Fortification: What additional scriptural texts, passages or stories can reinforce and strengthen you against the attacks of the enemy?
    • Edification: How might you share your story to edify others and bring glory to God?


As you process, digest, and apply what’s been shared, here are a few songs from my “I Surrender All” Playlist. Listen and let the music infiltrate your soul. Read the lyrics and let the words encourage you. And I pray that you’ll be blessed as I was.