JESUS SHOWED HIMSELF
John 21:1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6 And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. 9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
Our passage contains two times in which it is listed that Jesus showed himself. And both times (vs.1 & 14), it reveals to us that it was specifically to the disciples. For he had shown himself to Mary Magdalene and to other women before this. (See Matthew 28:8,9; John 20:16,17.) Therefore we must be attentive to this emphasis upon which the Holy Spirit has placed on this passage. For we are not looking at Christ’s resurrection and manifestation in general; but only to it as it relates to his disciples. Therefore this was not the third time he showed himself after his resurrection! But it was the third time he showed himself to his disciples! (See 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 for a listing of his revealing himself.)
We saw the first two times, as we looked at John 20:19 and John 20:26. But now we are come to this specific occurrence. And it is quite different from the first two. For the first two times, the disciples were hiding in a room with the door shut, and probably bolted, not wanting to be seen due to their fear of the Jews. But this third time, we find them having left the seclusion of that confinement, upon Peter’s announcement that he was returning to his previous life of openly fishing in the sight of all.
It is an amazing lesson for us to realize that boredom and fear associated with religion can be overcome by the determination to revert to the old life. But here are listed seven of them headed to the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberius (See John 6:1). Hebrews 3:12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
Here is the second time in which Peter denies his Lord in turning back into his own will. And even though a sheep may fall in the mire, the Shepherd will not allow him to remain there. Matthew 18:12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
For the sheep, unlike the sow, has not the nature given to living in the mire! 2 Peter 2:22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. For neither the Shepherd, nor the new nature of the believer will allow him to live continuously in sin!
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 1 John 3:6 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 5:18 We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.
These men had entered into an agreement at the beginning of the Lord’s public ministry to abandon worldly pursuits and become his disciples. And he had told them that their previous employment would be beneficial in the spiritual work he was calling them into. For they would still be fishermen, but now become fishers of men! Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.
As the Shepherd appeared to the two straying sheep on the road to Emmaus, (Luke 24:13ff), turning them back to Jerusalem, so he now, faithfully appears to these seven to keep them from apostasy!
And we notice that just as the betrayer Judas, went out into the night to accomplish his satanic deed, so it was in the darkness of the night that these wandering sheep unsuccessfully toiled. (See verse three of our text.) The only difference between the betrayal of Judas and the denial of Peter is found to be our Lord’s intercessory prayer. Luke 22:31 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32 But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
But concerning Judas, we read that the Lord would not intercede for him. John 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. Be very careful, dear Reader! Do not tempt God by willfully sinning, supposing him to be obligated to recover you. You just may not be a sheep if you love your sin that much! Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. 12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.
Now we also take notice that in this present condition, Peter and the others are willing to take instruction from a perfect stranger as how to fish! For in verse four of our text we read that the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. For when one walks away from his spiritual calling to revert back to the natural world, he labors in the darkness without any successful results. For that night they caught nothing.
Therefore this unknown person asks if they have any fish. They may have presumed that he was a customer, wanting to purchase some of their catch for his daily fare. And humanistic religion, striving in the darkness under its own labor, will heed any suggestion to relieve its public shame! So this ‘stranger’ instructs them as how to fish and they immediately obey him.
But, thanks to God’s great mercy, it was the Lord calling his previous followers back to their rightful place as his disciples. In Peter’s mind he had a dead god! And in his heart, he had the gnawing guilt of his denial to have aided his master’s death! He was also not accustomed to living in fear, locked in that chamber with these others, who knew that he had publicly bragged that he was not like them, in that he would never turn from his master! Matthew 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. John 13:37 Peter said unto him, Lord, why cannot I follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake.
So Peter brazenly walks out of the chamber in which the Lord had chosen to show himself to them two previous times, even leading these others back into their old world, free from the stress of discipleship! But right back there is exactly where the Lord sends them all, upon his ascension. Acts 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
But when a huge mass of fish suddenly filled their net, John, who had believed as far back as when he saw the empty tomb, (John 20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed.), knew that it had to be the Lord! And he uttered four words which stabbed Peter in the heart! It is the Lord! And Peter, who had not been personally spoken to by the Lord in those first two times when Jesus revealed himself to them, sought to hide his naked, disobedient self in the waters of the sea. The waters upon which he once walked by faith, now became the waters in which he sought covering from the one whom he had denied! But this time he did not cry out for the Lord to save him! Matthew 14:28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
But all glory and thanks be unto our Faithful Lord! For he even responds before we have time, or ability to cry out! Isaiah 65:24 And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.
And this time he allows Mister, “I-can-take-care-of-myself” Peter, who got himself into the water to get himself out. And then Peter tries to show his own strength and self ability. So he “went up, and drew the net to land.” But the Lord needed none of those fish by which to feed them their breakfast. He already had bread and fish on the coals of fire.
These were very valuable lessons for those soon to become fishers of men. Peter was to ‘catch’ three thousand souls on Pentecost! Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
For first these disciples had to learn that human effort, no matter how professional they had been, as they had fished all their lives, would not avail in the salvation of souls. And they learned that strenuous labor, without the Master’s presence would be done in the darkness without success. It was only in the morning light with the Lord there to direct, that success was granted. John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
They also learned that it was not their labors which would feed them in their ministries. For it was not their fish which they ate. But it was the fish and bread which the Lord already provided. Luke 9:2 And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 3 And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.
Take notice also that the Lord already had a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. He would always provide the fire! Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
And only now they began to learn of the parables which the Lord had spoken to them. Matthew 13:47 Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48 Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. John 12:16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him.
May our Lord continue to show Himself unto us!
Pastor Gene Breed
January 11, 2019