|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
21:1-14 Christ makes himself known to his people, usually in his ordinances; but sometimes by his Spirit he visits them when employed in their business. It is good for the disciples of Christ to be together in common conversation, and common business. The hour for their entering upon action was not come. They would help to maintain themselves, and not be burdensome to any. Christ's time of making himself known to his people, is when they are most at a loss. He knows the temporal wants of his people, and has promised them not only grace sufficient, but food convenient. Divine Providence extends itself to things most minute, and those are happy who acknowledge God in all their ways. Those who are humble, diligent, and patient, though their labours may be crossed, shall be crowned; they sometimes live to see their affairs take a happy turn, after many struggles. And there is nothing lost by observing Christ's orders; it is casting the net on the right side of the ship. Jesus manifests himself to his people by doing that for them which none else can do, and things which they looked not for. He would take care that those who left all for him, should not want any good thing. And latter favours are to bring to mind former favours, that eaten bread may not be forgotten. He whom Jesus loved was the first that said, It is the Lord. John had cleaved most closely to his Master in his sufferings, and knew him soonest. Peter was the most zealous, and reached Christ the first. How variously God dispenses his gifts, and what difference there may be between some believers and others in the way of their honouring Christ, yet they all may be accepted of him! Others continue in the ship, drag the net, and bring the fish to shore, and such persons ought not to be blamed as worldly; for they, in their places, are as truly serving Christ as the others. The Lord Jesus had provision ready for them. We need not be curious in inquiring whence this came; but we may be comforted at Christ's care for his disciples. Although there were so many, and such great fishes, yet they lost none, nor damaged their net. The net of the gospel has enclosed multitudes, yet it is as strong as ever to bring souls to God.
Verse 4. - When the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach. If the εἰς be thetrue reading, it would imply that he stood forth, as having come from some unperceived region. If the ἐπὶ remain, the idea is that the morning light, as it was breaking over them through the curtain of dense mist which hung before sunrise on the eastern hills, discovered Jesus standing upon the beach. There is obvious reference, in the manner of his approach, to that "standing" in the midst of them, with which they had become familiar (see John 20:14, 19, 26). Howbeit (μέντοι suggests something unusual, John 4:27; John 12:42) the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. He is not walking on the waters as of old, but standing on the solid ground. Just as Mary of Magdala, and as the disciples on the way to Emmaus, and as even the disciples themselves on the Easter night, were in doubt, at first, who and what this manifestation might mean, so now the chosen seven fail to understand that which was before their very eyes. The morning mist and shadows adding to the obscurity produced by some hundred yards of distance, together with wearied and toilsome effort and a sleepless night, may suggest some explanation of the marvel; but the mystery is baffling. Two or three remarks may be made.
(1) These various appearances seem at first to confuse their perceptions by reason of the ordinary human characteristics that accompanied them. Mary for a moment mistook him for the owner or worker in the garden; the "two disciples" imagined that he was "a stranger in Jerusalem;" and these disciples think him, for the moment, to have been a stray wanderer by the lake-side. Their presupposition concerning the reappearance of their risen Lord would probably have involved some strange and awe-striking fulguration of his power; but the true "spiritual body" does, when it pleases, take on forms far more familiar.
(2) The slowness of the process by which the apostles became finally convinced, against their prejudices and sense-bound views, that he had risen into a new form of living, and into new conditions of existence.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
But when the morning was now come,.... The day began to dawn, and light to appear, very early in the morning; for Christ visits his right early, and is a present help to them in their time of trouble.
Jesus stood on the shore: on firm ground, whilst his disciples were beating about in the waves, and toiling to no purpose. So Christ, risen from the dead, is glorified, is in heaven; but not unmindful of his people amidst all their afflictions in this world:
but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus; though he was so near them that they could hear what he said; but it not being broad daylight they could not distinctly discern him, or their eyes might be held that they could not know him. So Christ is sometimes near his people, and they know it not.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
4. Jesus stood—(Compare Joh 20:19, 26).
but the disciples knew not it was Jesus—Perhaps there had been some considerable interval since the last manifestation, and having agreed to betake themselves to their secular employment, they would be unprepared to expect Him.
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