Jesus Restores Peter (John 21:1-19) Sunday School Lesson and Activities

Feed My Lambs: Jesus Gives Peter a Second Chance. Use this free Sunday School Lesson and Activities in your children’s ministry or kids church when teaching about Jesus Restoring Peter from John 21:1-19. Download 30-minute PDF Bible lesson below and watch the supplemental Bible story videos with your class.

Bible Lesson focus: This lesson encourages children with the hopeful reminder that Jesus promises second chances when we make mistakes.  God can use our mistakes and promises to grant us grace when we sin. We recognize that we will never keep the law perfectly or do everything “just right”, but the story of Peter reminds us that we don’t have to. God can and will use all of us in remarkable ways, no matter how we might slip at times. Jesus took the punishment for our sins and gives us second chances (and then some!).

Scripture Passage: John 21:1-19 The Miraculous Catch and Jesus Restores Peter

Target Audience: Kindergarten-6th grade (adaptations noted) children age 6 to 12 years old

Teaching Materials Needed: Ziploc bags, pictures of fish, “fishing poles” and prizes, Goldfish crackers, Swedish fish,

More Children’s Ministry Lessons and Activities from John 21:

Bible Story Video: Jesus Forgives Peter John 21 for Kids

Children’s Sermon for Kids Church: Peter’s Second Chance

Game Activities to Introduce the Sunday School Lesson

Lesson Opening: Kick off with some elements of the story. Some of these come in “3’s” due to the three times Peter confessed faith. There are also elements of fish, due to the fish catch/breakfast in the story.

  • Third time is a charm…start out with a quick round of Simon says, only with a twist: whatever the leader instructs, students have to do it three times. If Simon says jump, students jump three times. If Simon says clap, clap three times. If Simon asks a question, students answer three times. Explain to students that in this story Jesus asked something three times and wanted to share something important.
  • What comes in three? Brainstorm (and maybe write on the white board) things that involve the number three. Encourage with examples if necessary. Thoughts include stories (like the Three Little Pigs or Goldilocks and the Three bears), triangles, tricycles, stoplight colors, and the trinity!
  • Fish “catch”: Several pictures of fish will be scattered throughout the room. Have students use Ziploc bag “nets” to find and collect the fish. See how many fish they can find. Younger students can then sort the fish according to characteristics like color, size, and shape.
  • (Younger) Have students “Go fishing.” Use a plastic fishing rod with a magnet or clothespin (or makeshift pole of string and paper towel tube). Help one child at a time lower the rod into a container with tiny prizes and sneak a prize onto the clothespin rod (this could be done after the main lesson, as well).

Describe for students how after Jesus rose from the dead, He came back and appeared to people for several weeks. One of those times is what we will be discussing today. Remind students of the background of who Peter was: Peter was a close friend of Jesus during His ministry, and was often outspoken and ready to do anything for his Lord. But he made a mistake. On the night that Jesus was arrested, He predicted that Peter would deny him three times. Peter refused to believe such a thing was possible and claimed that he would never deny Jesus. But guess what? He sure did…he got nervous and pretended not to even know Jesus! Peter felt awful about it, but the story didn’t end there… Ask: Have you ever made a mistake? What do you do when you mess things up?

Jesus Restores Peter (John 21:1-19) Sunday School Lesson for Kids

Bible Lesson:  This story can be read out loud from the Bible (older students can take turns or listen) or acted out with children or puppets. Discuss as you go or after reading the story.   
(Older only) Prior to reading, hand students fish shaped papers with words that connect to the story. After reading the story, have students re-connect by describing what their word had to do with the lesson (examples include “fish”, “sheep”, “boat,” “net,” “fire,” and “breakfast”).

Peter had gone back to being a fisherman, and he was out in his sailboat with a few other disciples. They had fished all night and not had a single fish swim into their nets, and they were tired and hungry.

After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he revealed himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called the Twin), Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. -John 21:1-4

Jesus came by and told them to try putting their nets on the other side of the boat. When they did, they caught more fish than they could even hold! Peter realized that it was Jesus who was there on the shore, and he jumped out of the boat and swam as fast as he could to Him. Once there, Jesus built a campfire and cooked some fish for breakfast.

4 Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” 6 He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. 7 That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea. 8 The other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off. When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. And although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.  -John 21:4-14

Ask: What do you like to eat for breakfast? Have you ever had fish for breakfast? Do you like eating fish?

For whatever reason, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus right away. Once they understood who was with them, they were thrilled! Not only did Jesus help them catch a bunch of fish, he cooked them up to eat. But that isn’t the most important part of the story…after breakfast, Jesus had a conversation with Peter:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19 (This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”  -John 21:15-19

What did this mean? Well, for one thing, Peter was getting another chance. He had denied Christ three times, but now he got to affirm his love three times. It sort of erased the previous mistakes. In addition, Jesus was giving Peter an important task. When He asked Peter to “take care of sheep”, He was calling on him to spread the Gospel to others. Peter became a very influential person in the early church. He was no longer just a fisherman, but a true fisher of men. God used him in remarkable ways. He shared his faith and proclaimed Christ, even when it later cost him his life.

God can always turn our stories around. Even if we think that we have fallen too far to recover, or we sin and don’t think we can ever be forgiven, God wants to use us. He wants to turn our mess into success, and He will, if we let Him! Bring your mistakes and your failures to the Lord, and watch what amazing things He can do!

Ask: What can we do when we make mistakes? (Pray, ask for forgiveness, try again!) 

God can take our mistakes and turn them into something new and meaningful. The Bible is full of stories of people who made mistakes and were allowed another chance (often multiple chances!). The entire Bible is about this, in a sense, because we know that we sin and mess things up, but Christ was sent to restore us!

Activities: Choose an activity connected to the story:

  • Review questions (who went fishing? What time of day was it? What did Jesus ask three times? How many fish were caught in the net?).
  • (Younger) Sheep craft: Make a “feed my sheep” paper plate puppet/mask by gluing cotton balls to the plate (or cup) and attaching a popsicle stick… OR
  • Make a “feed my sheep pasture picture” OR
  • Make a “fish net” craft by gluing paper fish onto the paper plate. Cut notches in the side and use yarn to lace the plate and create a net appearance.

Sunday School Craft Activities: Peter Restores Jesus

Third Time’s a Charm…the Second Time. Craft Ideas for Peter’s Reinstatement. It is a blessing that God grants us grace and gives us second chances (and sometimes third and fourth and fifth chances!). In the story of Peter and the post-Resurrection “fish fry breakfast”, we see the repentant disciple affirmed by Jesus, despite his previous denial. From this we can be assured that Christ forgives us and can make us part of His plan, no matter how far we think we’ve strayed. Two crafts recount this story somewhat. A “Feed my Sheep Pasture Picture” uses popsicle stick puppets to remember the commands of Jesus. A lacing “Fish Catch Plate” recounts the miraculous catch of fish and breakfast with Christ. Adapt these ideas or others as you share the story!

Bible Verses or Craft Captions to Consider… (John 21:1-14)

  • He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.  -John 21:17
  • He is risen!!! Alleluia!
  • Jesus fed His disciples! He feeds my soul, too!
  • Miraculous fish catch!
  • Peter promised to love and serve Jesus…I will, too!
  • Feed my sheep…tend my sheep…feed my lambs
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