John 21:1

I. THE OLD SCENE. This verse gets all its suggestiveness just as we remember the place which Jesus chose for this particular manifestation. Persons and time and place were all combined together into one complete lesson of truth. Capernaum stood on that sea, the one place that came nearest to a home for him who all the years of his public life had no true home. While walking on the margin of its waters, Jesus called his first disciples to become "fishers of men" (Luke 5:1-11). To the disciples of Jesus gathered on the shores of this lake everything should have been eloquent with stirring memories of their Master. Everything in the way of circumstance and association was made, as far as it could be, into a hook and a help.

II. WHAT WAS CHANGED SINCE THE COMPANY HAD BEEN THERE BEFORE? The interval could not have been very long; yet what momentous things had happened in it! There was no change to speak of in the scene; a spectator from some coign of vantage would have seen pretty much the same as before. Nor would there be much change in the disciples. A great preparation was going on; but the change itself had yet to come. But in Jesus himself, what a glorious change! The mortal had put on immortality, the corruptible had put on incorruption. A great gulf separated him and his disciples - an immense difference added on to all the differences existing before. Best of all, the difference was laden with hope and encouragement for all who could look at it in the right way. The change in Jesus heralded and initiated a change in every one of these disciples, and through them a change in many with whom they would have to deal.

III. THE ESSENTIAL JESUS STILL REMAINED. He had not to make confession of former errors and new discoveries. The change in Jesus was but a metamorphosis; the change in the disciples was a regeneration. Jesus would look different, for he had put on the body of his glory. Before long, the disciples, looking outwardly the same, would have been profoundly changed.

IV. THE NEED OF A NEW MANIFESTATION TO US IN THE OLD SCENES OF OUR LIFE. Most people have to spend their days among scenes that are as familiar to them as ever the shores of Galilee were to these seven disciples. Life may become very dull and monotonous in these circumstances. But a manifestation of Jesus will make a wondrous change. Then, and only then, will there be sense and comfort in the utterance, that "old things have passed away, and all things become new." The Galilaean cities are gone long ago; but humanity remains, needing all the manifestations of Jesus as much as ever it did. - Y.







After these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias.
twelve full miles in length by nearly seven in breadth, formed by the widening of the river, and lying almost seven hundred feet below the level of the Mediterranean; is a beautiful expanse of clear, shining water, transparent to considerable depths. Viewed from different points and at different times, it is now a deep blue mirror among the mountains, now lustrous and glittering in the sunbeams like molten silver, now a sea of glass, as it were mingled with fire, now varying under every changeful gleam like an opal set in emeralds. In shape it is rather harp like — hence called "Chinnereth" — from the Hebrew word for "lyre" or "harp" — than oval. The beach is in parts pebbly — flint, jasper, chalcedony, and agate; in parts sandy, and of pearly whiteness, owing to the presence of innumerable flue shells; elsewhere it is covered with big, rough stones. The silent shore behind, stretching out here and there into small, irregular plains, is belted with a jungle of oleanders and other shrubs and bushes, and contains some rich corn-lands. On the eastern side the treeless hills, scarred with ravines, have a desolate and mournful look. Those on the west swell up pleasantly from the shore; and if they are not bold and romantic, neither are they tame. The snowy top of the Hermon range rises majestically in the distance like a mighty guardian of the northern frontier. Orange, citron, myrtle, and date-trees, are still to be found; and the wandering foot crushes fragrance from many a lonely herb. Birds of bright plumage frequent the shores, and over the waters of the lake many sea-fowl dip the wing. Visitors tell how, as night gives place to morning, the sudden note of a lark will ring out, silvery and joyous, as if from the very midst of the stars, waking a concert all along the shore and back to the hills. The sunrise and sunset tints, opal and purple, are wonderful; and so are the contrasts of light and deep shadow. "God," said the Babbins, "loved that sea beyond all other seas." All around there now broods (to use Gibbon's phrase) "a mournful and solitary silence." But in New Testament days the stir of busy life was everywhere. Villages nestled in the green valleys, were perched upon the heights, lay scattered along the shores; everywhere "great multitudes of people" might readily be gathered together. (J. Culross, D.D.)

west of the lake, nearly facing Gerasa, and about four miles south of Magdala. Antipas Herod was building a new city to outshine Julias, built by his brother Philip: which city he proposed to call Tiberias, and make the usual residence of his court. His plan was laid at the base of a steep hill, around the waters of a hot spring, among the ruins of a nameless town and the graves of a forgotten race. A great builder, like all the princes of his line, Antipas could now indulge his taste for temples, palaces, and public baths, conceived in a Roman spirit and executed on a Roman scale, while flattering that capricious master who might any day send him to die as his brother was dying in a distant land. The new city grew apace. A castle crowned the hill. High walls ran down from the heights into the sea. Streets and temples covered the low ground which lay between these walls. A gorgeous palace rose high above the rest of these public works: a palace for the prince and court, having a roof of gold, from which circumstance it came to be known as the golden house. A port was formed: a pier thrown out: a water-gate built: and a fleet of warships and pleasure boats placed on the sparkling wave. Towers protected, and gates adorned a city which Antipas dedicated to his master, inscribed on his coins, and made the capital of his province, the residence of his court. This city was waxing great and famous. When the first stones were being laid near the sea, St. John was a little child playing on the beach at Capernaum with his father's nets; yet so swift was its growth, so wide its fame, that before he composed his Gospel, Tiberias had given its name to the waters on which it stood, like Geneva to Lake Leman, and Lucerne to that of the four cantons. When St. Matthew wrote his Gospel, the city was still young, and a Jew of Galilee might speak of Gennesareth: forty or fifty years later, a man who was born on its shores and had fished in its waters, spoke of the lake most familiarly by its Roman name.

(Dixon's "Holy Land.")

The differences between the two miracles are mainly three.

I. THAT NOW IN THE DISPENSATION OF THE ASCENSION, THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST WITH HIS PEOPLE IS TO BE KNOWN NOT BY THE SIGHT OF HIS VISIBLE PERSONALITY, BUT BY INFERENCE FROM THE EFFECTS PRODUCED BY HIS WORKINGS AMONG THEM. As He stood on the shore, they knew not that it was He, but when John felt the weight of the net with the fishes, he said, "It is the Lord." So we find that in the book of the Acts the author represents the things wrought by the apostles as a continuance of those which before His death Jesus began both to do and to teach (Acts 1:1). The apostles recognized that their miracles were wrought not by their own power or holiness (Acts 3:13), but by Him whom the Jews had crucified, but whom God had raised up. "Tried by the ordinary process of reasoning, the conclusion was precarious. But there is a logic of the soul which deals with questions of the higher life, and John trusted that he recognized the insight, the power, the love which belonged to one only. And when the truth found utterance, the others acknowledged it." In the same way we are now to recognize the presence of the Lord Jesus with us. When our hearts burn within us as we study the sacred Scriptures; when our spirits are soothed, refreshed, inspired, and strengthened as we turn in prayer to God; when the words which we speak in His name are followed by results as astonishing to ourselves as they are to those who behold them, — then we too may say with John, "It is the Lord," and rejoice in the assurance that He is in the midst of us indeed.

II. THAT THE ASCENDED CHRIST SENDS US ON NO UNSUCCESSFULL ERRAND WHEN HE BIDS US GO AND PREACH HIS GOSPEL TO ALL NATIONS. Bear witness Judson among the Karens, Moffat among the Hottentots, Lindley among the Zulus, Scudder among the men of Arcot, and Morrison and Burns, and many more, among the Chinese. No faithful worker who is obedient unto Christ and faithful to his calling, will go without his netful at the last. This word, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find," stands for all time, and will surely be made good. The success of the missionary enterprise is no mere peradventure. It is as sure as promise and prophecy can make it. The power of the Saviour is not now a thing to be put to the test of experiment; it is a matter of experience.

III. THE REWARD OF THOSE WHO ARE OBEDIENT TO CHRIST, IN LABOURING FOR THE SALVATION OF MEN. Not only are they successful in that labour, which itself is a great joy, but Christ prepares for them a feast when their work is done.

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

As St. John alone records the "beginning of miracles" in Cana, it is fitting his Gospel should close with this idyllic scene of more than human beauty. The open-air picture, the morning freshness, the naturalness of the incidents and characters, the simplicity of the narrative, stamp it with an incomparable grace.

I. THE MANNER OF HIS COMING. How like themselves are both these disciples. John is the first to perceive Jesus. The eagle-glance of faith is quick to see the Divine. With instinct of the loving heart, the bosom-friend is first to detect his Divine Friend's presence. He imparts the calm, quiet recognition to his brother apostle. How precious this faculty to note and point out the Divine in life, though it may be others that act. John is the seer, the lover, the teacher; but Peter is the doer. It is Peter that plunges into the waves and gets first to Jesus' feet. So it always had been between these two. John was the first to reach the sepulchre, Peter the first to enter it; John the first to believe that Christ is risen, Peter the first to greet the risen Christ. Thus ever have we these two classes — the men of faith, the men of action; the men of thoughtful wisdom, and the men of loving zeal. The Church's eyes and the Church's hands, — all helpful to one another and needful for the body. John says to Peter, "It is the Lord," which Peter would not have perceived. Peter casts himself into the sea, which John could not have done. Well! the others get to the beach too in time, in such slow way as men in general do get in this world to its true shore, much impeded by that wonderful dragging the net with fishes. "None durst ask Him, Who art Thou? knowing that it was the Lord." But why wish to ask Him? Where was the need? Plainly because the mere bodily sense cannot identify Him. His comings and goings, His interviews with them all through the forty days, are not according to the ordinary laws of body. Consequently it is upon the evidence, not so much of the senses, as of the mind and heart, that they know Him to be their risen Saviour. His words, His actions, and the love that shines through all, tell them it is Jesus, and no one is so faithless and blind as to say, Who art Thou that appearest thus in the guise of a stranger? And this is all significant. He is preparing them to live by faith in a world where Jesus shall no more be with them in the flesh.

II. THE MEANING OF THE MIRACLE. It is easy to see that the purpose is different from that, for example, which appeared in the raising of Lazarus. After His own resurrection there was no need of any mere act of power to convince the disciples of His Godhead. That would have been taking the less to prove the greater.

1. It proved in a very striking way that their own Jesus it was who rose from the dead. He addressed their memory and their faith: You may be sure I am your own Lord, when I do again exactly as I did before, on this very lake, the works none other man could do. To repeat the miracle of the Draught of Fishes was to prove His identity in the most convincing way. Some great tone-poet comes to you, and performs one of his masterpieces, and goes his way. The composition, let us suppose, has never been written out; no one could repeat it but the composer himself. Vainly would any pretender appear and say, "I am he," for he would not produce the proof you would be sure to seek. You wait years, perhaps. A stranger comes. He says, I am your former friend; do you not recognize me? Time and travel have changed his countenance, the senses refuse to identify him in the usual way. "I will prove it," he says, seats himself at the instrument, calls out the marvellous and well-remembered strains. No other could so thrill you but himself. Yes, you say, it is beyond a doubt. I know him by his work. This must be Jesus; no phantom in His likeness, no delusive appearance, but the same Christ of God, at whose command are all the treasures of nature and providence, and under whose feet are also the fish of the sea, for He is head over all things, to His body the Church.

2. It was not only a seal of their Lord's resurrection, it was also a symbol of their future work. Henceforth He would stand upon the heavenly shore. Many a night, dark and dreary, they would have to toil profitless; but as oft as He should command, the net would be filled. At last they would draw it to land, the success of His kingdom would be complete and glorious beyond all expression. His faithful servants would share His triumphs, and inherit the fruit of their labours, enter into their rest followed by their works, and on the resurrection morning they would sit down to meat with Him in His everlasting kingdom. One is tempted to dwell on this attractive allegory a little longer, there are so many things suggested by the details of the charming story.(1) Here are seven fishermen, well equipped, well acquainted with the waters they fish in, toiling all night, and nothing caught. The servants of the kingdom may be well furnished, well placed, well acquainted with their work outwardly, yet not thereby is their real success secured. It is the Lord's presence and the Lord's command that makes it sure. An activity based upon mere human impulse and sympathy — "I go a fishing, We also go with thee" — was fruitless. That which drew its inspiration from the word of Christ had immediate success.(2) A conversation about non-success opens the way for better things; so the Lord oft begins the blessing with His Church and servants when He makes them feel and be concerned about the want of blessing.(3) The blessing and the success come by casting the old net in a new way, in a new direction. It is the unchanging gospel that we are to preach; but in each age and time it needs new castings, fresh forms, and it is the ever living Spirit that will keep us right with His progressive indications. The meal on the shore, too, is suggestive of many things besides the final feast of heaven. It is, indeed, more strictly suggestive of "times of refreshing" upon earth, for it is early in the day, fitting for more labour. Where Jesus got the fish and bread and fire of coals we are not told, but there it was ready; and how like the gracious surprises He prepares for His faithful servants! Surprising success followed by surprising satisfaction and soul comfort.

(J. Laidlaw, D. D.)

I. THE APPEARANCE AT THE LAKE. (vers. 1-3).

1. The scene of operation: the Galilean Sea.(1) Endeared by early associations. Many a time had the disciples plied their craft upon its waters (Matthew 4:18-22).(2) Hollowed by sacred memories. Across that lake they had often sailed with their Master (chap. John 6:16; Matthew 7:18-23). Here they had thrice witnessed the display of Christ's power (Luke 5:1-11; Matthew 8:26; Matthew 14:22, 23), and had heard Him preach to crowds on the shore (Luke 5:3; Matthew 13:2). Around it they had travelled with Him in His wanderings.(3) Recommended by past experience. A water famed for multitude, variety, and excellence of its fish.

2. The company of fishermen.(1) Their number. Seven: the perfect number, the symbol of completeness, and thus representative of the infant Church.(2) Their names. Simon Peter, the man of rock, the symbol of energy and zeal. Thomas, the man of doubt, typical of prudence, Caution, timidity, reason. Nathanael, the guileless, emblematic of transparent sincerity, and sweet simplicity. The two sons of Zebedee, once sons of thunder, now men of love and self-sacrifice. Two other representatives of the great army of unknown, undistinguished, to be found in every age and country in the train of Christ. Together they shadow forth varieties of character and endowment in the Church.

3. The proposed expedition.(1) Its proposer — Peter. The Church, no less than the world, needs men of action to lead the way, pioneers to open up new paths, persons of imagination and enthusiasm to devise and impress others with the practicability of what they suggest.(2) Its accepters. Started by Peter, the notion was taken up by his companions. The mass of mankind in religion, as in politics, not only require to be led but are ready to follow. The capable man never wants instruments. He who can rule will find subjects.(3) Its commencement. It began well. Everything augured hopefully. The reputation of the lake was high; the time the best possible for fishing; the company ardent and experienced. They lost no time, spared no pains, and were not soon disheartened. Whatever Christ's people do they should act so to deserve if they cannot command success.(4) Its result.

(a)Nothing at least as to appearance. They caught no fish.

(b)Something, yea, everything in one.They met with Christ, found what they expected not, returned with what they had not gone to seek. So Christ defeats His people's schemes that He may the better carry out His own, disappoints their hopes that He may give them immediate fruition, and leave them to themselves that they the more readily welcome and enjoy Himself when He comes.

II. THE MIRACULOUS DRAUGHT (vers. 4-8).

1. The Stranger on the beach.(1) The time of His appearing — morning; cf. the Angel of Jehovah (Genesis 33:26); Christ in the days of His flesh (Matthew 14:25), and after His resurrection. So Christ still appears to His people in the morning, because it is morning in every soul when He appears.(2) The circumstance of His non-recognition. They "knew not," as Mary and the Emmaus travellers, and perhaps for similar reasons. Christ may now be beside His people when they are not aware.(3) The unexpected question, cheerily put and with friendly solicitude, "Lads, have ye aught to eat?" i.e., Has your cast been successful? Put also not for information, but to arrest attention and excite expectation.(4) The disappointed reply. They had failed, as three of them had once done before (Luke 5:5); they had spent their strength for nought (Isaiah 49:4); as gospel fishers often seem to do (Galatians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:5).(5) The proferred counsel. The right side always the side Christ appoints. He who does not what Christ bids fishes on the wrong side.(6) The prompt obedience. It is never wise to be above taking advice; much less when advice comes from Christ (Colossians 2:3).(7) The marvellous success. The royal road to success in religion is obedience to Christ's commands (Ephesians 3:20).

2. The recognition from the boat.(1) By whom made. By the disciple in whose heart glowed a pure flame of love for Jesus. The heart rather than the intellect the organ of spiritual apprehension. John had been the first to perceive that Christ was risen (chap. John 20:8). Now he is the first to recognize His Person.(2) How expressed — "It is the Lord!" Concentrating in the exclamation love, joy, adoration, desire, a world of thought, an ocean of holy feeling, a heaven of spiritual aspiration.(3) With what followed. Instantaneous recognition by Peter, and startling activity (cf. Matthew 14:28).

3. The landing of the net.(1) The labour of it.(2) The success of it.(3) The wonder of it. Neither will the gospel net fail till it has landed all Christ's people.

III. THE MYSTERIOUS BANQUET (ver. 12-14).

1. The heavenly provision (ver. 9). Emblematic of the reward Christ's servants will enjoy at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9).

2. The earthly contribution (ver. 10). A large part of the future reward of Christ's servants will consist in beholding the fruit of their labours (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20).

3. The royal invitation (ver. 12). So will they be welcomed when they reach the heavenly land (Matthew 25:34).

4. The solemn distribution (ver. 13). A picture of the higher entertainment (Matthew 26:29), of which Christ gives the foretaste in the Lord's Supper. Lessons:

1. The fruitlessness of labour even in the Church, apart from the presence and power of the glorified Redeemer (John 15:5).

2. The certain and abundant success of those who work in the way and along the lines suggested by Christ.

3. The blessed recompense awaiting faithful labourers in Christ's service.

(T. Whitelaw, D. D.)

Note —

I. THE POVERTY OF THE FIRST DISCIPLES.

1. We find them working to supply their temporal wants at one of the humblest of callings. Silver and gold they had none, and therefore they were not ashamed to return to business.

2. This poverty goes far to prove the Divine origin of Christianity. These very men who found it necessary to work hard in order that they might eat, were the first founders of the Church, which has now overspread one-third of the globe. These were the unlearned and ignorant men who boldly confronted the subtle systems of ancient philosophy, and silenced it by the preaching of the cross. These were the men who, at Ephesus, and Athens, and Rome, emptied the heathen temples of their worshippers and turned them to a better faith.

II. THE DIFFERENT CHARACTERS OF DIFFERENT DISCIPLES OF CHRIST.

1. Once more we see Peter and John side by side and behaving in different ways. John was the first to perceive Christ, but Peter was the first to struggle to get to Him. John's love was quickest to discern, but Peter's impulse was quickest to stir.

2. Let us, then, not condemn others because they do not see or feel exactly as we do (1 Corinthians 12:4). God's gifts are not bestowed precisely in the same measure. Some have more of one, and some more of another. Some have gifts which shine more in public, and others those which shine in private. Martha and Mary (Luke 10:39, 40; John 11:20-28), were both loved by our Lord. The Church of Christ needs servants of all kinds, and instruments of every sort; penknives as well as swords, axes as well as hammers, chisels as well as saws. Let our ruling maxim be Ephesians 6:24.

III. THE ABUNDANT EVIDENCE WHICH SCRIPTURE SUPPLIES OF OUR LORD'S RESURRECTION. Here, as in other places, we find an unanswerable proof that our Lord rose again with a real material body. That Peter was convinced and satisfied we know (Acts 10:41).

(Bp. Ryle.)

I. THEY WERE TOGETHER. How did they come to hold together, instead of seeking safety by flight, which would have been the natural thing after the death of their Leader? And yet here we find them where everybody knew them to be disciples of Jesus, holding together as if they had still a living and uniting bond. There is only one explanation, viz., that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead. You cannot build a church on a dead Christ; and of all the proofs of the Resurrection there is none harder for an unbeliever to account for than the simple fact that Christ's disciples held together after He was dead.

II. THE COMPOSITION OF THIS GROUP.

1. Of the five men who made the Primitive Church (chap. 1.), there are three who reappear here, viz., Peter, John, and Nathanael, and two unnamed men, who, I think, are "Philip and Andrew, Simon Peter's brother," both of them connected with Bethsaida, the place where probably this appearance of the risen Lord took place. So then the fair inference is that we have here the original nucleus again — the first five — with a couple more, "Thomas, who is called Didymus," and the brother of John, one of the first pair.

2. There, along the beach, is the place where four of them were called from their nets three short years ago. On the other side is the green grass where the thousands were fed. Behind it is the steep slope down which the devil-possessed herd rushed. There, over the shoulder of the hill, is the road that leads up to Cana from which little village one of the group came.

3. Look at the list, having regard to the individual members that make it up.(1) Foremost stand the two greatest sinners of the whole — Peter and Thomas — singularly contrasted, and yet alike in the fact that the Crucifixion had been too much for their faith. The one was impetuous, the other slow. The one was always ready to say more than he meant, the other always ready to do more than he said. The one was naturally despondent, the other never looking an inch beyond his nose, and always yielding himself up to the impulse of the moment. And yet both of them were united in this, that the one, from a sudden wave of cowardice, and the other, from giving way to his constitutional tendency, had both of them failed in their faith, the one turning out a denier and the other turning out a doubter. And yet here they are, foremost upon the list of those who saw the risen Christ. There are two lessons there. Let us learn —(a) With what open hearts and hands we should welcome a penitent when he comes back.(b) Who they are to whom Christ deigns to manifest Himself — not immaculate monsters, but men that, having fallen, have learned humility and caution, and by penitence have risen to a securer standing, and have turned even their transgressions into steps in the ladder that lifts them to Christ. And the little group welcomed them, as it becomes us to welcome brethren who have fallen and who repent.(2) Nathanael, a guileless "Israelite indeed," so swift to believe that the only thing that Christ is recorded as having said to him is, "Because I said... thou believest? Thou shalt see greater things than these." A promise of growing clearness of vision and fulness of manifestation was made to this man, who never appears anywhere else but in these two scenes, and so may stand to us as the type of that quiet, continuous growth, which is marked by faithful use of the present illumination, and is rewarded by a continual increase of the same. If the keynote to the two former lives is that sin confessed helps a man to climb, the keynote to this man's is that they are still more blessed who, with no interruptions or denials by patient continuousness in well-doing, widen the horizon of their Christian vision and purge their eyesight for daily larger knowledge. There is no necessity that any man's career should be broken by denials or doubts; we may "grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour."(3) The two sons of Zebedee — sons of thunder — who were eager, energetic, somewhat bigoted, not unwilling to invoke destructive vengeance, all for the love of Him; touched with ambition which led them to desire a place at His fight hand and His left. But by dwelling with Him one of them, at least, had become of all the group the likest his Master. And the old painters taught a deep truth when they made John's almost a copy of the Master's face. To him there was granted a place amongst this blessed company, and it is surely a trace of his own hand that his place should be so humble. Any other but himself would certainly have put James and John in their natural place beside Peter.(4) "Two other of His disciples" not worth naming. Probably the missing two out of the five of the first chapter; but possibly only disciples in the wider sense. What does it matter? The lesson is that there is a place for commonplace, undistinguished people, whose names are not worth repeating in Christ's Church, and we, too have a share in the manifestation of His love. We do not need to be brilliant, clever, influential, energetic, anything but quiet, waiting souls in order to have Christ showing Himself to us as we toil wearily through the darkness of the night.

III. THE PURPOSE OF THIS GROUP IS SIGNIFICANT. What did they thus get together for? "Simon Peter saith, I go a fishing. They say, We also go with thee." So they are back again at their old trade, which they had not left for ever, as they once thought they had.

1. What sent them back? Not doubt or despair; because they had seen Jesus Christ up in Jerusalem, and had come down to Galilee at His command on purpose to meet Him. It is very like Peter that he should have been the one to suggest filling an hour of the waiting time with manual labour. John could have "sat still in the house," like Mary, the heart all the busier because the hands lay quietly. But that was not Peter's way, and John was ready to keep him company. Peter thought that the best thing they could do till Jesus chose to come, was to get back to their work, and he was sensible and right. The best attitude to be found in by Christ is doing our daily work, however secular and small it may be. A dirty, wet fishing-boat, all slimy with scales, was a strange place, but it was the right place, righter than if they had been wandering about amongst the fancied sanctities of the synagogues.

2. They went out to do their work; and to them was fulfilled the old saying, "I being in the way, the Lord met me." Jesus Christ will come to you and me in the street if we carry the waiting heart there, and in the shop, and the kitchen. For all things are sacred when done with a hallowed heart, and He chooses to make Himself known to us amidst the dusty commonplaces of daily life. He said to them just before the Crucifixion, "When I sent you forth without purse or scrip, lacked ye anything?" And they said, "Nothing." And then He said as changing the conditions, "But now he that hath a purse or scrip, let him take it." As long as He was with them they were absolved from these common tasks. Now that He had left them the obligation recurred. Keep at your work, and if it last all night, stick to it; and if there are no fish in the net, never mind; out with it again. And be sure that sooner or later you will see Him standing on the beach and hear His voice, and be blessed by His smile.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

I. "SIMON PETER SAITH UNTO THEM, I GO A-FISHING" (ver. 3).

1. We are inclined to wonder at the smallness of this memorandum. The very same thing might have been said yesterday by many a simple trawler at Teignmouth, or any other fishing station, yet this has been made an organic part of the Book of books. The writer leaves out the momentous events that were stirring millions at that moment, and puts into it this! Some critics have thought the thing too trivial, but we believe that so small a thing could not have been set down unless it held some great significance.

2. Notice a remarkable slowness of spiritual apprehension. "I go," says Peter. Well, whither? to "the mountain in Galilee" whither Christ commanded His disciples? "No, to the sea, of course." Call to mind that when Jesus instituted the Supper, when every word should have been taken to heart with double distinctness, He said, "After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee." The angel at the sepulchre said, "Go quickly, and tell His disciples... that He goeth before you into Galilee, as He said." Then He followed up the angelic message with one to the women on the road; still they were slow to move, but still He had compassion on their infirmity, and appeared to them in Jerusalem on the two first days; then his manifestations ceased for a while. At length they came to Galilee, but only to their old station, and, as it appears, with no thought of seeing Jesus, otherwise all would have been on the spot at the earliest possible moment. But we only see seven, and Peter says, "I go!" not to the mountain, but to the sea.

3. The announcement seems to have been made in a fit of despondency. Christ had told Peter and his companions to give up fishing when they became His disciples, and they instantly left all and followed Him. Peter made emphatic reference to this when he said, "Lord, we have left all and followed Thee!" And Christ's reply taken with the words of the disciple, seem to speak of the forsaken fishing-boat as the sign of a final and consummated act. We never hear of them working at their old craft for a living again. We picture the apostles as waiting at Jerusalem for another Divine visit, but this had not been granted. Then, solemnly and sadly, they came back to the familiar place, and there they waited. Every night Peter's heart would say, "He will come to-morrow;" but to-morrow, and to-morrow came, and no Jesus. Then that heart cried out, in a burst of passionate sadness, "I give up, for He will not come any more."

II. "THEY SAY UNTO HIM, WE ALSO GO WITH THEE." Certain men seem to be naturally and unaccountably influential. When your spirits touch theirs, you feel a fascination that holds or moves you like a hand. Peter had this kind of electricity. We can imagine the exchange of such words as: "I go to the mountain." "We go with thee." "I give up." "We give up." "I go a fishing." "We also go with thee." Great leaders have a "going" power peculiar to themselves; but more or less, for good or evil, every man must be influential, and what he does others will do. We can imagine such interchange of language between a parent and his children: "I am going into the ways of the world." "We also go with thee." "I believe, and am going to cast in my lot with those who believe." "We also go with thee."

III. "THEY WENT FORTH, AND ENTERED INTO A SHIP IMMEDIATELY; AND THAT NIGHT THEY CAUGHT NOTHING."

1. Here is one instance, out of many, of Christ not allowing His disciples to prosper while in a wrong course. It is an evil omen when Christians prosper while in a course of practical unbelief. This omen is not seen in lives that are to reach a high standard. In such cases love blights prosperity and tangles schemes.

2. On the other hand, sensitive consciences will need to be reminded that want of success is not in every instance from something wrong. A ship may be manned by good Christians, yet founder; a concern in which none are embarked but disciples may toil all night, and catch nothing. And so, faithful heart, losses will be gain to you. In the darkest hour of outward affliction there may be the dawn of a morning of rich discovery. "The Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended."

IV. "BUT WHEN THE MORNING WAS NOW COME, JESUS STOOD ON THE SHORE," &c. Weary and dispirited they saw a shape that was dim in the mist; they "knew not that it was Jesus." His voice pealed out, but it woke within them no answering echo of memory. It was like Him to come after them when they would not go after Him, and to call them His children after all! "Have ye any food?" He asked. Where-ever disciples toil the Lord looks on; if they suffer failure, let them know that the watchful eye sees, that the great heart feels. He has taught His children the prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread," and therefore is not likely to let them starve. In answer to this inquiry they only said "No;" the short word of cross, aching, disappointed men. Then said He, "Cast the net on the right side," &c. It was the advice of One who was slow to take offence, and whose precept usually implies a promise; of One whose infinite grandeur does not keep Him from interest in our commonest callings.

V. "THEY CAST, THEREFORE, AND NOW THEY WERE NOT ABLE TO DRAW IT FOR THE MULTITUDE OF FISHES."

1. This startling wonder was to remind them that they had been consecrated "fishers of men." The Divine Symbolist delighted to clothe the spiritual work of His servants in language borrowed from their worldly employments. Obviously, it suggests —(1) Downright hard work. The word "minister," like the word "fisherman," is not simply the name of an office or dignity, but of a toiler.(2) "Diversity of operations." It is a mediaeval notion that the only way of taking the fish is by the net, which is understood to be the one true Church; but when Christ appointed His followers to be fishers of men, He specified for their use no particular mode. A fisherman has to go through great varieties of experience; he may be out on a stormy sea, or he may have to creep, or hide, or watch in the leafy covert or reedy river. Some kinds of fish are to be taken by spear, some by line, some by net — hand-net, or draw-net, or basket-net. He must never angle for a whale, or harpoon a trout. "You must," says Izaak Walton, "be the scholar of the fish before you can be his master."(3) And the work of the spiritual fisher is rather one of skill than of violence — he must draw, not drive.(4) That our spiritual work must be done by ourselves, and not by proxy. When, for instance, a man is called to be a preacher, let him preach his own sermons — "Fish with your own hooks."

2. The act may also have been in tended to cheer them, and all desponding workers, by foreshowing the final success of all work done for Christ. Regarding the two miracles as signs, the scene of fulfilment in the one case is earth, in the other, heaven. In the first miracle the "nets broke"; the fishers did not therefore take all the fish, and there was no attempt to count the number taken. In the second case no nets were broken, and when the toilers reached the land they brought their richly-laden nets with them. Soon shall we strike upon the eternal shore; then all who have laboured in the great cause shall rejoice in the sea-harvest of souls; then, for the first time in all history, will the statistics of the Church be complete and trustworthy — "one hundred and fifty and three."

VI. "THEREFORE THAT DISCIPLE WHOM JESUS LOVED SAITH UNTO PETER, IT IS THE LORD. It was owing to a mysteriousness of look, perhaps, that Jesus was not at once identified. The Greek verb used in the account of His first miracle is used also in this. In the first, it is said that He "manifested forth His glory"; in the second, "Jesus manifested Himself," &c. Two things are taught by the use of this word —

1. That the discovery was the act of Jesus, not that of His disciples; they did not of their own will see Him, hut He, by a distinct act of His will, showed Himself to them.

2. It was a spiritual manifestation, and He was seen not so much by the eyes of the body as by the eyes of the soul. John was the first seer. Even in human friendship, and not less in the Divine, love has the quickest ear, the sharpest eye, and the surest faculty of interpretation. Then there was a plunge. "Steady, Peter," we cry, if no name had been given, we should have known that it could be no other.

IV. "JESUS SAITH UNTO THEE, BRING OF THE FISH WHICH YE HAVE NOW CAUGHT." Soon as they had touched land there was a new wonder. "The beach had been bare a moment before, but now they saw a fire burning with a little fish on it, and bread at hand. They seem to pause, unable to obey; and so "Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes." When these were counted, Jesus said, "Come and break your fast." All knew Him now; but not a word could they speak, Formerly they would have asked many questions. Taking first the bread, and then the fish, He divided them just as He had done while He was yet with them. He who marshals in their sweep the grand army of the stars, and who holds in His hand this globe, stood there in human form waiting on these tired boatmen.

(O ,Stanford, D. D.)

I. THE SELF-MANIFESTATION OF JESUS AFTER HIS RESURRECTION. We now come to a new term in the narrative: "He showed Himself," or "He manifested Himself," or "He was manifested to His disciples." This shows that He was not seen except by an act of His own will, overcoming His natural invisibility. He can only manifest Himself to our hearts when we are ready for Him, and just so He could only appear to those who were ready for the sight. We must always remember that there were moral reasons for the manifestation of Jesus after His resurrection beyond the necessity of proving the fact of His victory over death. He rescued the apostles from despair and unbelief and recalled them to their tasks and to a holier intimacy with Him than was possible before He was crucified.

II. THE DISCOVERY OF JESUS BY HIS DISCIPLES. There are disciples in all ages of the Church who see the presence of Jesus by the intuition of love. And such was John. He saw without beholding. He knew, not so much by faith, as by the love that believeth all things and never faileth. And yet this John was not of a sluggish, indolent nature. We have known souls who were,, the first to detect, the presence of Jesus in the Church and to say "It is the Lord!" They feel, while others are asking for evidence. There are others, like Peter, marked by their obedience to faith. John said: "It is the Lord!" When Peter heard that it was the Lord, he hastened to find Him. It does not appear that Peter saw Him any more than John did. He believed the word of John, and moved forward at once to verify it. John could wait; not so Peter. No doubt it will be found that both these temperaments are essential to the progress of the kingdom of heaven and to the bringing of the people of God to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, who united perfectly the active and the contemplative elements of character.

(Edward N. Packard.)

History, Prophecy, and Gospel.
The last chapter of the Gospel of John is an appendix, and not a supplement. The story of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection closed somewhat hurriedly with the preceding chapter. But now what about the future? What about the disciples' work for the world? This chapter answers. The relation between the Gospel of John and this appendix is the same as that between Luke's Gospel and his book of the Acts. The latter is the sequel of the former. Hence this twenty-first chapter is concerned about work, and about the disciples' future until Jesus comes again.

I. JESUS GUIDES THE DISCIPLES IN THEIR WORK. The work was commonplace — fishing; the story is simple, but the feelings of the actors must have been profound. The feast at Jerusalem is over. The disciples have made the journey of a long week's travel back to Galilee. It is not the Galilee of a few former months. There is no assembling of crowds for instruction, no miracles of mercy, no loved leader to keep the disciples in one body. Four are lacking on this fishing excursion. He has been seen alive after His passion, but not here in Galilee; it was away in Jerusalem. Galilee doubtless thinks that Jesus is no more. The atmosphere surrounding the eleven is oppressive; they are lonesome, idle, restless. The active spirit of Peter must find something to do. He proposes to go a-fishing, and six more of them accompany him. There is a minute particularity about the story. We are told who and how many composed the company, and how they came to "go a fishing." They noted that Jesus "stood" on the shore. The distance of the ship from the land is given, &c. These details, whatever other value they may have, certainly show how the hearts of the seven fishermen were wrought upon. Impressions, feelings, move men. Thought is born of them, and the whole course of life may be changed by them. Whence came that fire of coals, and the fish laid thereon, and the bread? This very wonder must have intensified the whole scene for them. Intensity was necessary. From the feelings of this hour they were to find not only the course of their own life, but also the wisdom to direct the world's. In the Transfiguration they saw His divinity; in the foot-washing they perceived His humility; and now, in this hour of fishing, they had set before them the lesson of their coming leadership of the world. Left to themselves, their labours were abortive, but under His direction many fish were taken. In a word, His guidance was necessary to future success. The work in hand was a parable of the glorious work which they were to do. These who were winning fish were to win men — an office as much greater as a man is better than a fish.

II. JESUS IS REVEALED TO THE DISCIPLES IN THEIR WORK. That net full of fishes was such a revelation of the Christ to them as they had not reached in the more wonderful miracles of feeding the multitude, casting out demons, or raising the dead; for in these He did His own work, but in the draught of fishes He helped the disciples in theirs. Though the power was still all His own, He became a fellow-helper with them. Henceforth He will work mightily through them and with them. This revelation was to serve the disciples in two ways. It was necessary to convince the world of the fact —

1. That the "Christ should suffer and rise from the dead." The Resurrection is the key-stone of the Christian religion. But what a stupendous tax on men's minds, to lay it upon them to believe that One who died was now alive again, and alive for evermore! Yet to establish this fact in the world there must be indisputable testimony. The witnesses must be so qualified that they could go forth with "many infallible proofs," so that they could say, "We did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead."

2. Of His activity in the affairs of men. For Jesus' death and resurrection do not take Him from His friends, but give Him to them. They needed this revelation of Him in work; for men are most of all sceptical on the point of the Lord's active participation in their efforts and needs. One says, "If thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean;" another cries, "If Thou canst do anything;" but the true heart alone says, Thou wilt, Thou canst, Thou dost — so that the apostles afterward reported not what they had done, but what "God had done with them;" and Mark sums up their history with similar words, "The Lord working with them." Christian faith is more than to believe historic Biblical facts. It believes God in Christ to be the one present, working Agent in the world to-day.

III. JESUS EATS WITH THE DISCIPLES AFTER THEIR WORK. This breakfast is every way beautiful. It seems to be Jesus' aim in this whole morning's scene — its climax; for as soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire glowing on the beach, and food in preparation. With this the disciples had had nothing to do. Still they have a share in providing the meal, for He says, "Bring of the fish which ye have now caught." He graciously ascribes the capture to them. When all is ready He asks them to "come and dine." The end of the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection is to bring God and man into family relationship. It was one who sat at this breakfast this morning who afterward wrote, "And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ." The breakfast was also a prophecy of the time when the saint and the Saviour shall meet together to rejoice in the fellowship of a completed work. Paul wrote to those whom he had won to the Lord, "What is our hope or joy or crown, of rejoicing? Are not even ye in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ?"

(History, Prophecy, and Gospel.)

es: — This narrative is purely secular, but is none the less religious.

I. CHRIST DOES NOT RELIEVE HIS DISCIPLES FROM THE NECESSITY OF SECULAR LABOUR. He does not exempt His disciples from the law "He that doth not work shall not eat." Were He to do so it would be an injury rather than a blessing to physical health. Intellectual vigour and moral development depend upon it. Inaction when there is power of action is a crime, and since the Infinite Lawgiver is infinitely benevolent, what is contrary to His will must be injurious.

1. The individual himself is injured. Muscular inactivity enfeebles the body; mental inactivity the intellect; moral inactivity the soul. Look at those who "stand all the day idle." They are your feeble mothers, delicate sisters, nervous fathers, lackadasical sons, simpering women and moody men.

2. The idle man injures others: he is a social thief, and should be punished like every other kind of thief.

II. CHRIST ALLOWS THE POSSIBILITY OF FAILURE IN THEIR SECULAR ENDEAVOURS. They "caught nothing." A different result might have been expected: but the settled laws of nature pay no particular deference to piety, and exemption from failure would not always be a blessing. It would tend to nourish worldliness, self-sufficiency, and religious neglectfulness. Liability to failure is a spur to industry, and a motive for prayerful dependence on heaven. Let not therefore any unfortunate Christian tradesman conclude that Christ has deserted him; and let not society conclude that he is ungodly because he has failed. The disciples toiled all night and caught nothing.

III. CHRIST IS DEEPLY INTERESTED IN THEIR SECULAR CONCERNS.

1. His eyes are ever on them in their work, though they may be unconscious of Him (ver. 4). He knoweth the way you take.

2. He sometimes so signally interposes for their help or demonstrates His presence among them (ver. 6).

IV. CHRIST OFTEN MAKES THEIR SECULAR TRIALS THE MEANS OF A CLOSER FELLOWSHIP WITH HIMSELF (ver. 12). Here we have a display of —

1. His merciful condescension.

(1)He prepared the food.

(2)He ate with them, and thus identified Himself with their physical necessities.

2. His remedial wisdom. His eating enlisted their social sympathies and heart-confidences. He who would follow Him in His saving mission must go and do likewise.

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

John's Gospel, which seems to come to a close with the end of the preceding chapter, is here re-opened. You can see John laying down his pen and rolling up his scroll, when he has put in the last sentence of the preceding chapter. But that Holy Spirit brought these things to his remembrance, and he eagerly unrolled his scroll and added them. It is thus not inaptly described as "a postscript to the Gospel." And it is not over curious in us to ask why John should have put in this chapter.

1. It might be sufficient to say that these things were added because of their interest. That is the reason underlying our own postscripts. Indeed, with certain correspondents, it has become a bye-word that the P.S. is really the letter.

2. It might be said that John added these things to tell a good story of Peter. John loved Peter, and Peter's character has never been any the worse for this chapter. You know some one like Peter. He is under a dark shadow to-day, and he deserves it. But you know something to his credit, and when all people are running him down, shame to you that you are not telling it.

3. But I rather think that John added these things because of their bearing upon his purpose in writing a Gospel, viz., to show the Divinity of that Man from Nazareth. Now, this stands or falls by His resurrection, which this chapter proves in its very first line. "After these things Jesus showed Himself again," and again, and again. Here is proof upon proof of what can never be over-proved, that Jesus rose from the dead. Let us look at —

I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE DISCIPLES.

1. Certainly they were strange circumstances. About two or three years ago they had been called into fellowship with Christ, and with each other, and that had meant for them a time of perpetual excitement. The fellowship of Christ to-day may be a humdrum affair, but it was not so then. And I would say if you want an exciting life, don't kick over the traces and go off as did the prodigal son — that is the flattest kind of life ever tried; but if you want a racy, bracing life, come and be a whole-hearted disciple of Jesus. For the last two or three weeks this excitement has been of the intensest kind. They had seen their Master betrayed, crucified, buried. But He had risen from the dead, and had said: "Receive ye the Holy Ghost. As My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you." Yet here they were away up in Galilee, as idle as a harrow in the frost.

2. This waiting for Jesus to come to them was doing them good, and Peter's speech is the proof of it. We see them grouped together, and talking with one another about what they knew of Jesus and what they expected from Him. "Ah! He will be sure to come, and come soon." Thus at times would they utter the wish of their hearts; but at others, with minds burdened with a great fear, they would ask: "But what if He should not come?" Under these circumstances I can imagine Peter suddenly assuming a brave and determined look, and saying, "Well, come He soon or late, or not at all, our families are here, and there is plain, honest, homely work to do." Now that, I think, is a token that Simon Peter was improving, and that this time of waiting was a training, intended to strengthen faith. He is not now the blustering coward of the judgment-hall, whipping out his sword, and striking the wrong man in the wrong place. Peter could have done far better with an oar than a sword. But now Peter is sobered; our Lord's prayer and hopes for him are to be realized after all. "Satan hath desired to have thee. Thou wouldst make a splendid devil's servant. Thou wast born to lead men either from God or to God. I need men like you." His faith has not failed. He strengthens his brethren, and they say unto him, "The thing is good. We also go with thee." May God send back to His Church to-day a good score of Peters.

3. Now our Lord makes no mistake when He calls a man like this to Himself and to His service. God deliver the Church from the paralysing power of men "Who never say a foolish thing, and never do a wise one." The Church to-day has far too many men ready to put breaks on her progress — cautious men — but far too few men of steam power, men to tell us what to do, and who go and do it.

II. THE MIRACLE IN RELATION TO THE CIRCUMSTANCES. The miracle has a lesson, one face of which looks towards our work-a-day life, while the other looks towards one's spiritual work for Christ.

1. Let us deal with the worldly aspect. These men were taught very sharply that success in catching either fish or men must come from Christ. Christ told them: "You cannot get fish without Me, and you cannot go back to your secular life — you are spoiled for that." Ah, dear backslider, you need to hear this! A man who is a fisher or a fishmonger may become an apostle, but an apostle can never return to his old worldly calling. You will either be exceedingly miserable until Christ forgives and restores you, or the name and doom of castaway shall be thine. But the night's failure and the morning's miracle surely taught them that Christ is Master in all departments of life, and must be looked to with a single eye for all success that is worth having. Remember that these men were born and bred to fishing. Have you ever tried to advise a fisherman? You had better not, for if you do you will very likely get an answer a great deal plainer than polite. Somehow Peter had grace and sense enough to check the word that was rising to his lips, and to do as he was told. And it was well that he did so, for soon the pull upon the back rope made John draw his breath and dart the look and the word into Peter. "This is the Lord." So still does the Lord visit His people at their work. But we draw a hard and fast line, on one side of which we are Christian workers, and we are all for faith and prayer; but then, on the other side, we are tradesmen or their wives, and the world, the flesh, and the devil take it out of us right round the week. The Lord wrought this miracle in order to obliterate that dividing line, and to teach that all success worth having will come from Him. Then what a grand religion ours must be for working people! In these days, when the word "unemployed" is continually in our ears, and the dismal thing perpetually in front of us, what a splendid religion is that of Christ! What a difference it makes between the unemployed man who believes in Christ, and the unemployed man who has no such belief! The feet of both are in the gutter, but the head of one is in heaven. Both alike must go round seeking for work; but he who loves the Lord, before he starts on his weary journey, goes down upon his knees before Him at whose girdle hang the keys of shops and yards and offices, and prays: "Lord, Thou hast done the great thing for me; wilt Thou see me lack a covering and a crust?" and such a man cannot be unemployed — he is glorifying God, and verily he shall be fed.

2. The other face of this miracle looks toward that spiritual work in which, from the very fact of our being disciples of Christ, we must engage. Do not raise the plea that now I am speaking of ministers and those who are actually under some kind of ordination. Nay, if your fish. ing is not capable of being spiritualized from mere bread-winning and fish-catching into soul-saving, then it is the worst for you. If you cannot take Christ into your business, anal so serve Him there, that you should spread abroad such an influence of Christ's grace and presence as shall serve as a bait to entangle in the meshes of a net those who come in contact with you, then wash your hands of it, and have done with it for ever. Only remember that in this fishing for men we must look to Christ for our orders, and serve Him implicitly. How many boats are plying on the dark waters of London, and yet how few fish are caught, how few souls saved! What is the reason? It cannot be that there are no fish; the waters are seething with what we profess to be seeking. Then why should the net come empty to the boat so often? Is not this the reason — that we believe in Christ in a sort of dumb way, but we are not looking at Him and we are not getting His orders? If any of us lack wisdom, let us ask of God, and it shall be given us. He that winneth souls is wise, but it is with a wisdom that cometh straight from above.

(J. McNeil.)

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