The Lord's Last Days with his Disciples.
On Easter evening, when the Lord's friends were gathered in the upper room where He appeared to them, one of the eleven was absent. There were others beside the apostles -- Cleopas and his companion, and probably the women of Galilee, as well as Mary, and Martha, and Lazarus of Bethany, but Thomas was not there. The others had told him that the Lord had shown Himself to them and had broken bread with them, but he could not believe. He believed, perhaps, in a vision, but not in the return of the crucified Jesus. He declared,

"Except I shall see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into His side, I will not believe."

A week passed, and the disciples were again gathered in the upper room, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut and guarded as before, but, as before the Lord suddenly stood in the midst, saying,

"Peace be unto you." Then He turned to Thomas with gentle rebuke,

"Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand and thrust it into my side, and be not faithless but believing." Thomas did not wait to touch the Lord, but cried,

"My Lord and my God!"

"Thomas," He said, "because thou hast seen me thou hast believed; blessed are they that have not seen and have believed."

Soon after this the apostles went away into Galilee, as the Lord had commanded them to do. There by the Lake where He had called them from their nets to follow Him they waited for Him. Peter, and James, and John were there, with Thomas, and Nathanael, and two others of His disciples. The old love for the Lake came back to Peter, and he said,

"I go a fishing," and the others said,

"We also go with thee," and they went out for a night with the nets on the Lake, but they caught nothing. In the morning as they drew a little nearer land they saw a dim figure on the shore and heard a voice saying to them,

"Children, have ye any meat?" They answered "No," and then the clear voice came across the water saying,

"Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find." This they did, and so heavy did the net become with fishes that they were not able to draw it. Perhaps John remembered another day on the Lake when the nets broke with the weight of the fishes, and looking at the figure standing on the shore in the sunrise, he said to Peter,

"It is the Lord!"

Peter did not wait to reply, but tying his fisher's coat around him he threw himself into the Lake to swim towards His Master on the shore. The others followed in the ship dragging the net with them, and when they had landed they found a fire of coals there, with fish laid upon it and bread, and the Lord Himself standing there as one who served.

"Bring of the fish ye have now caught," He said. And Peter, first to obey, drew the net to land full of great fishes -- one hundred and fifty-three -- and the net was not broken. While they were silent for joy and wonder, knowing that it was the Lord, and yet not daring to question Him, He said, "Come and dine." And there upon the sands the Lord for the third time since He rose from the dead, broke bread with his disciples. John, the beloved disciple was there, but it is not recorded that Jesus spoke to him personally. His heart was wholly with his Lord, and he did not need the loving help that was given to doubting Thomas, and self-confident, wavering Peter. To Simon Peter He said after they had finished their simple meal,

"Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?"

Peter must have remembered that he had vehemently declared, "Although all shall be offended, yet will not I. If I should die with Thee yet I will not deny Thee in any wise," and had straightway forsaken and denied Him. Now he said simply and humbly,

"Yea, Lord: Thou knowest that I love Thee." And the Lord answered, "Feed my lambs."

Again the Lord asked him the same question, and Peter gave the same reply. And the Lord said, "Feed my sheep."

When the Lord had asked this question the third time, Peter, full of love and grief cried,

"Lord, Thou knowest all things: Thou knowest that I love thee." And the Lord answered again, "Feed my sheep."

By this Peter knew that the Lord trusted him to be an apostle, and teach the gospel of the kingdom to all men, but that he must have a steadfast love and faith. The Lord also said, "When thou wast young thou guidedst thyself, and walkest whither thou wouldest; but when thou shalt be old thou shalt stretch forth thy hands and another shall guide thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." Afterward Peter was crucified as his Lord had been, and then John remembered these words of the Lord about him. As the Lord said to Peter, "Follow me," Peter saw John following also, and he said, wondering, perhaps, why the Lord had no word of counsel, of rebuke, or of prophecy for John,

"Lord, and what shall this man do?" And Jesus replied, "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me." And they went away from the Lake, following the Lord, as they had done three years before when He called them to be "fishers of men."

chapter xlv the evening of
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