<< John XXI: At the Sea of Galilee: The Ascension >>
AFTER the Lord's resurrection His disciples saw Him many times. Once it was by the familiar shore of the Sea of Galilee, where they had so often walked with Him and listened to His words, and seen His wonderful works.
Remember the beautiful blue lake lying deep among the hills, and, at the northwest corner of the lake, the warm, sheltered plain of Gennesaret with its rich fields and gardens. Capernaum and Magdala and other little towns stood near the shore, the home of farmers and traders and fishermen. Many fishing-boats were on the lake; strong little boats with a mast and three-cornered sail. They had also heavy oars, for when the wind died away, or when it was contrary, they must take down the mast and row. The fishermen fished with nets from the boats and from the shore. And did they use hooks? Often the fishing-boats lay near the shore or were drawn up on the pebbly beach, as the fishermen sat down and gathered the good fish into vessels and cast the bad away.
How many happy days the disciples had spent on this shore with the Lord. Once He had taught the people in parables, sitting in the boat while the people listened from the land. That night they had crossed the sea and the Lord calmed the storm. At another time He had come to them walking on the sea. And rememher the day when the Lord walked by the shore and called the disciples Simon and Andrew, and two other brothers, James and John. And their net was filled with fishes when they let it down at His word.
After the sad days in Jerusalem some of the disciples went again to their old home by the Sea of Galilee, and their old work of fishing. They were lonely and sad as they fished all night and caught nothing. But as the morning light begun to touch the hills and to waken the plain of Gennesaret to life, they came near to the beach where they had so often walked, and the Lord was there. Again He bade them cast their net and it was filled with fishes. They knew that it was the Lord, and that He would still be with them as they went out in His name to be fishers of men. But read the story, and see also how Peter who had denied the Lord three times on that night in the high priest's palace, now three times declared his love.
After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed 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 theship, 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 shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.
And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.---John XXI.
Once more the Lord showed Himself to the disciples at Jerusalem. He walked with them to Bethany on the Mount of Olives, as He had so often done, and there He ascended from their sight.
And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. Amen. ---Luke XXIV. 50-53.
And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.---Mark XVI.20.
Author: William L. Worcester 1904
The coming of the Lord to the disciples in Jerusalem >> Gave assurance that the Lord would be with them still in states of heavenly affection and worship
The coming to them in Galilee >> Gave assurance that He would be with them in the labors of daily life
The miraculous draught of fishes (at the beginning of their discipleship and after the Lord's resurrection) >> A promise of the great power to teach and uplift men, which the disciples would have from the Lord
The net of the spiritual fishermen >> The doctrine and instruction by which they uplift
Casting the net on the right side of the ship >> Teaching with charity, and for the sake of charity
The net did not break as in the first miracle >> A stronger grasp of truth by the disciples and more effective teaching after the Lord's resurrection than before
That night they caught nothing >> To be without the Lord is spiritual night
In the morning, Jesus stood on the shore >> The Lord's coming is spiritual morning
John was the first to perceive, and told Peter that it was the Lord >> Love perceives the Truth more quickly, then it is transmitted to the understanding
Eating with the Lord >> The strengthening of the soul by the reception of truth and goodness from the Lord
The fish and the bread which they saw laid upon the coals >> The truth and goodness which the Lord desires to give
The fire of coals >> The Divine love in which He imparts these gifts of life
The disciples were bidden to bring of the fish that they had caught >> It is partly through the Lord's blessing upon our own efforts that heavenly satisfaction and strength are given
RETURN TO GALILEE.
BUT upon "the mountain" in Galilee the same words which describe the place where the Christian law was given,(Matt. v:1) and representing the presence of the Love of God in the plane of good life He who is now the fulfilment of the Law again appears to the faithful, though at first not clearly understood. He comes as the truth of the love of God, with all the power of that love in heaven and on earth.
He has taught the law of Christian life as the law of God, and has made the plane of conduct wholesome and orderly, use-loving and wise, from His presence in it, protected from evil infestations. He has taught purity and unselfishness of motive in good conduct; with no claim of merit or reflection upon self; but faithful love for Him Who alone is good and wise, and innocent ascription of all good to Him. He has taught the entire surrender of the heart and soul and mind to the Father's love, with no pride of holiness or of intelligence, and no desire for any good in life but the good of living from His Spirit, under His protection.
All this He has taught and lived. In the glory of the Heavenly Father's Love He comes now in the plane of good life, filling it from the inmost with the sense of the Presence of God. And to those who receive Him He gives the charge to make Him known to all who are in good, that they may be enrolled among those who receive the Father's Love in the Truth of His Human life, and live from His Spirit.
And this Gospel through Matthew closes with the exhortation to observe all things of this Christian Law which the Lord has commanded; and the promise of His presence always, as long as the church shall endure. Amen. (Author: John Worchester, 1898. Matthew's Gospel.)
Pictures: James Tissot ----Courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum