The Gospel of John, The Epilogue Part II, John 21:1-5 - Lesson 204
Read Verses John 21:1-14, After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 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. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
The purpose of chapter 21 is to show how the belief which the disciples now had, should be applied.
Faith without works is dead and the faith that the disciples had was not dead, so works were now demanded as a product of their faith.
They were now witnesses to the risen Christ and they were now equipped to take on the responsibilities of disciples.
This chapter shows how belief is to be translated into works.
In studying this chapter we are to receive lessons on service.
Christ had established peace in the hearts of his disciples and had given them his Holy Spirit and commissioned them to proclaim remission of sins.
This chapter is full of symbolic events which teach us how to serve by following Jesus Christ.
Jesus always was in the habit of teaching spiritual things with physical events.
John 21:1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself.
John records an activity of the disciples after they had returned to Galilee.
It is an activity that they decided to do and there is nothing indicated that it was done in the Lord.
It was a normal activity of their life but Jesus Christ used it to teach an important lesson regarding service.
These were now changed men in fact but they were now to change in deed!
As Peter had said on many occasions he now says again: "I go a fishing."
It was an act of self will and the other disciples also by their own will joined Peter in fishing.
The other disciples are thereby shown as followers of men, followers of Peter.
The Lord was to use this self will to teach a lesson on service.
There was nothing in itself wrong in them going fishing.
It was their occupation and the way they provided for their families.
But the Lord uses this event to teach about what it means in Christ as far as service is concerned.
They were now in Christ and indwelt by his Spirit.
They are to walk in the Spirit even in the everyday activity of whether or not to go fishing.
Christ is about to teach this.
They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
But the barrenness of their efforts was not for nothing.
Jesus Christ wished them to remember his teaching that John recorded in John 15:5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Peter and the disciples went fishing without acknowledging the Lord.
The Lord gives no fruit apart from himself, for he is the vine.
He is to be the filler of the net.
As followers we are to follow his word relative to where and when and how to work.
The disciples did not do that.
Jesus Christ had said unto them in Mark 1:17: .........Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men.
They were to now be fishing for men and Jesus intended for this to be an object lesson to that end.
Even the fact that they worked all night is symbolic.
They were children of light and therefore the Lord does not appear to them until the morning light.
They chose the time and the place and the method of their labors and they caught nothing.
Didn't Jesus say without me ye can do nothing?
What he meant was that whatever you do without Jesus Christ is nothing in the eternal scheme of things.
The "nothing" done without Jesus Christ is wood, hay and stubble which will be burned up.
Peter said I go a fishing and they entered into a ship immediately.
Did not any of the disciples ask whether the Lord would have them do that.
No, the activity, as shown by Jesus' actions after they had fruitlessly toiled, was done in the energy of the flesh.
But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
Why didn't the disciples know that it was Jesus who asked the question?
They were laboring in the flesh and their spiritual discernment was dim.
They were involved in caring for themselves and their bodily needs and had not the eyes to see the Lord.
Jesus asked a searching question of those who were supposed to be his followers. Children, have ye any meat?
He knew they failed all the night long in getting meat but he wanted them to face their failure.
A disciple to be dependant upon his master must first face his emptiness and his weakness.
For a person to depend upon his own strength reveals him as not a disciple of Christ.
Without me ye can do nothing!
This is not a empty statement by our Lord.
This is a light shining in darkness for in our darkness we believe it all depends on ourselves.
God wants us to come to the light of believing that without him we can do nothing.
Paul came to know this as he wrote in 2 Cor 12:9,10, And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
Without me ye can do nothing! Jesus says to us today!
We are to be very careful of self esteem.
We are to be very careful in our prosperity.
It is the devil's workshop for we begin to lean to our own understanding and think that what is occuring is due to our own talents and abilities.
Whatever takes place it is by God's grace and we ought to be ever viligent to stay in our weakness, stay in our dependency upon God.
And I mean real dependency, for only when we are weak are we strong.
For when we are weak we depend upon God!
Unless we do that Paul tells us we will never be strong.
Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
No meat Lord, for we have labored without you, for without you we can do nothing.