Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30)

Friday, November 22, 2019

2019.11.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 21:1-14

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom did Jesus show Himself in John 21:1? Where? Which disciples, specifically, were together (John 21:2)? What did Peter say that he was going to do (John 21:3)? When did they fish, and what did they catch? How long had this gone at the beginning of John 21:4? Who was on the shore? What didn’t the disciples know? What does Jesus call them in John 21:5? What does He ask them? What is their answer? What does He tell them to do in John 21:6? How do they respond? What happens? Who is the first to recognize what this means in John 21:7? Whom does he tell? What does Peter do? What do the other disciples do in John 21:8? What are they dragging? What do they find when they arrive at shore (John 21:9)? What does Jesus tell them to do in John 21:10? Who gets the fish in John 21:11? How many were there and of what kind? What was remarkable about the condition of the net? What does Jesus now tell them to do in John 21:12? What don’t they ask Him? Why not? What does Jesus do for them in John 21:13? How does John 21:14 summarize this entire incident? 
This passage is all about Christ “showing Himself.” John 21:1 introduces the passage by saying, “in this way He showed [Himself].” And John 21:14 concludes the passage by saying, “This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead.”

One thing we learn here is that while the Lord primarily makes Himself known to us through His Word in the Lord’s Day assemblies, it is yet true that He also makes Himself known to us through His works in our ordinary lives. The previous two “showings” took place when all the disciples were together on the first day of the week. Here, there are only seven of them present, and it is a work day on which it is appropriate for them to be fishing.

Another thing we learn is the goodness of being much with other believers. If the other six had left Peter to fish by himself, John would not have been there to help Peter identify the Lord Jesus, the others would not have been available to attend to the boats and nets when Peter swam to shore in his excitement to see the Lord, and they would not have had together life-long fellowship in being witnesses together of the same experience. Furthermore, there are experiences that we have had of the Lord when together—such as they had with the abundance of the catch and the eating by the seaside of bread and fish that Jesus produced for them—that are enriched when we are together again, and He gives them to us again. We are much helped in recognizing Christ, responding to Christ, and receiving Christ, when we are with other Christians.

In the third place, we see several ways in which Christ makes Himself known to us in the events of our lives. The first is counter-intuitive. He permits us to fail. Some fault Peter for going fishing, but the Lord does not do so here. Yes, he was told three years prior that he should be a fisher of men, but Christ has not yet made it plain how they should go about this. In fact, when He does give them instruction, it is to “do nothing” until He Himself pours out the Spirit. So, let us be at least as fair with Peter as we would be with ourselves in considering the biblical evidence.

What Christ does do about the fishing, however, is take Peter and the other apostles back to that day when they were first called to be fishers of men. And their failure was a big part of that. For his part, Peter’s denial is still looming large for him (as we shall see in the conversation after breakfast). But, Christ brings him back to the same point: recognition of nothing but weakness in himself that he might find Christ alone as all his strength! If this is true for fishing of fish, how much more for fishing of men! Do not be dismayed, dear believer, when in God’s providence your weakness presents itself. Rather, take the lesson and whether in things earthly or spiritual, take Christ to be all your strength!

But Christ does sometimes make Himself known in our lives not only by the exposing of our weakness but also by the display of His wisdom and power and love. It is interesting that, although Peter bailed upon them at first, it was he who had the 153-large-fish reminder that Jesus knows what He is doing and can accomplish it with ease. Furthermore, such a haul would have gone a long way toward providing for the apostles’ needs until Pentecost. So, this is also a display of surprising and loving provision. Has not the Lord often done this in your life—caused things to fall out in such an unpredictable yet powerful and generous way that He freshly displayed Himself by His actions?!

Finally, the provision of the bread and fish by the sea takes us back to chapter six, where the Lord Jesus had identified Himself as the living bread come down from heaven, promising that He would give His flesh for the life of the world. Though John had seen it clearly from the moment the nets began to fill, it is following this flashback, as it were, to the feeding of the 5000 that immediately precedes John 21:12, telling us that they all now knew that it was the Lord. And the Lord does sometimes, when we need refreshment and reassurance, come to us in familiar ways to previous times of blessedness in Him. Oh, whether in the means of grace in the assembly, or in more ordinary circumstances, there is nothing that we need so much as to have Christ show Himself to us!
By what means of grace has Christ displayed Himself to you recently? And in what other circumstances?
Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH282 “I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art”

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