Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord…
It seems very strange that these disciples had not, at an earlier period, discovered Christ, inasmuch as it was so manifestly a repetition of that former event by which they had become "fishers of men." We are apt to suppose that when once again they embarked on the lake it must have been with many a thought of Him. Yonder — perhaps we fancy them thinking — is where we saw Him coming out of the mountains, when He walked on the water; yonder is where He made them all sit down whilst we bore the bread to them: there is the very spot where we were mending our nets when He came up to us and called us to Himself — and now it is all over. "We trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel." But there does not seem to have been any such sentimental remembrance. John takes pains to show them as plain, rough men, busy about their night's work, and thinking a great deal more of their want of success, than about old associations. Then through the darkness He comes, and speaks as once before, and repeats the old miracle, and their eyes are all holden excepting the eyes of him who loved, and he first says, "It is the Lord."
I. THEY ONLY SEE ARIGHT WHO SEE CHRIST IN EVERYTHING.
1. No man will understand the world aright, who cannot say about all creation, "It is the Lord."(1) If we would pierce to the deepest foundations of all Being, we cannot stop until we get down to the living power of Christ, by whom all things were made, and whose will is the sustaining principle which keeps it from decay.
(2) What did Christ work His miracles for? Not solely as proof of His Messiahship, but that for once He would unveil to us the true Author of all things, and the true Foundation of all being. Christ's miracles interrupted the order of the world in so far as they struck out the intervening means by which the creative and sustaining word of God acts in nature. We are then to take all these signs and wonders as a revelation of the real state of things, and to see in them tokens that into every corner of the universe His loving hand reaches, and His sustaining power goes forth. Into what province of nature did He not go? He claimed to be the Lord of life by the side of the boy's bier at the gate of Nain, &c. He asserted for Himself authority over all the powers and functions of our bodily life, when He gave eyes to the blind, &c. He showed that He was Lord over the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea, &c. And He asserted His dominion over inanimate nature when the fig-tree withered, and the winds and waves sunk into silence. He let us get a glimpse into the dark regions of His rule over the unseen, when "with authority He commanded the unclean spirits, and they came out."(3) All these things He did, in order that we, walking in this fair world, should be delivered from the temptation of thinking that it is separated from or independent of Him. Let "It is the Lord" be on our lips, and nature will then be indeed to us the open secret which "The Lord will show to them that fear Him."
2. The same conviction is the only one to explain or make tolerable the circumstances of our earthly condition. Either our life is the subject of a mere chaotic chance; or else it is put into the mill of an iron destiny, which goes grinding on, regardless of what it grinds up; or else, there is the will which is love, and the love which is Christ! I understand not how a man can front the future knowing all his vulnerable points and all the ways by which disaster may come down upon him, and retain his sanity, except he believes that all is ruled, not merely by a God who may be as unsympathizing as He is omnipotent, but by His elder Brother, the Son of God. But the riddle of Providence is solved, and the discipline of Providence is being accomplished, when we have grasped this conviction — All events do serve me, for all circumstances come from His will and pleasure, which is love; and everywhere where I go — be it in the darkness of disaster or in the sunshine of prosperity — I shall see standing before me that familiar and beloved shape, and shall be able to say, "It is the Lord." That is the faith to live by, and to die by; and without it life is a mockery and a misery.
3. This same conviction should guide us in all our thoughts about the history and destinies of mankind and of Christ's Church. The Incarnation and the Crucifixion are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve. "They that went before and they that came after," when He entered into the holy city were a symbol of history. All the generations that went before Him, though they knew it not, were preparing His way; and all the generations that come after, though they know it not, are swelling His triumph. The tangled web of human history is only then intelligible when that is taken as its clue, "From Him are all things, and to Him are all things," and when all is finished, it will be found that all things have tended to His glory who is King of kings and Lord of lords.
4. Such a conviction living and working in our hearts would change for us the whole aspect of life. See Christ in everything, and be blessed; or miss Him, and be miserable. It is a waste, weary world, unless it be filled with signs of His presence. If you want your days to be true, happy, manly, and Godlike, it will only be when they all have flowing through them this conviction, "It is the Lord."
II. ONLY THEY WHO LOVE SEE CHRIST. John, the apostle of love knew Him first.
1. In religious matters, love is the foundation of knowledge. There is no way of knowing a person except love. A man cannot argue his way into knowing Christ. Man's natural capacity within its own limits is strong and good; but in the region of acquaintance with God and Christ, the wisdom of this world is foolishness. "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love."
2. Love will trace Him everywhere, as dear friends detect each other in little marks which are meaningless to others. Love's quick eye pierces through disguises impenetrable to a colder scrutiny. Love has in it a longing for His presence which makes us eager and quick to mark the slightest sign that He is near, as the footstep of some dear one is heard by the sharp ear of affection long before any sound breaks the silence to those around. Love leads to likeness to the Lord, and that likeness makes the clearer vision of the Lord possible. "It is the Lord" is written large and plain on all things, but like the great letters on a map, they are so obvious and fill so wide a space, that they are not seen. They who love Him know Him, and they who know Him love Him.
3. And is it not a blessed thing that this glorious prerogative does not depend on what belongs to few men only, but on what may belong to all?
4. But we cannot love by commandment. The only way is to see the lovely. The disciple who loved Jesus was "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Generalize that, and it teaches us that —
III. THEY LOVE WHO KNOW THAT CHRIST LOVES THEM. Our love can never be anything else than the echo to His voice of tenderness, than the reflected light upon our hearts of the full glory of His affection. "We love Him, because He first loved us." The fountain that rises in my heart can only spring up heavenward, because the water of it flowed down into my heart from the higher level. Oh, then, look to Christ, that you may love Him! Think of that Saviour who has died for us, and lives for us! Do not ask yourselves, to begin with, the question, Do I love Him or do I not? If a man is cold, let him go to the fire and warm himself. If he is dark let him stand in the sunshine, and he will be light. If his heart is all clogged with sin and selfishness, let him get under the influence of the love of Christ, and look away from himself and his own feelings, towards that Saviour whose love shed abroad is the sole means of kindling ours.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It's the Lord!" So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he wrapped his coat around him (for he was naked), and threw himself into the sea.