2018-04-04 / Religion

The risen Lord appears to his disciples

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

John 21:1-14

It is easy for us — in our pious moments — to pass judgment on the decisions made the direct participants in an event. We — very glibly — say, “I know that I would have,” always performing the “correct action.” Using our perspective of history, we “know” that we would have possessed “better insight” into the situation than those “poor souls” exhibited. In reality, each of us has been in some situation where a “better decision” could have been made.

The disciples of Jesus Christ of Nazareth had placed all of their confidence in the One whom John the Baptist had introduced as “the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” John 1:29. Only two of these disciples — Andrew and John — had heard these gracious words. Yet, the others had been convinced of the accuracy of this declaration.

After this group had witnessed the crucifixion, death, and burial of their Master, it took some drastic measures for them to accept his resurrection. The record tells of only the women, Peter and John viewing the “empty tomb.” The two men from Emmaus had given them their account of witness to these men. See Luke 24:13-35. Jesus, himself, had appeared to the disciples in the upper room. John 20:19.

These men, still, could not grasp the fact of the resurrection. John recorded a scene that the other gospel writers did not report. “There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.” John 21:2. When a person seems to have run out of options, it is easy to return to “the familiar.”

Of this group, at least three of them had been fishermen before they began to follow Jesus. These men could see no future beyond the immediate. Their discouragement seemed to have changed to despair. “Simon Peter saith unto them, I go fishing. They say unto him, we also go with thee.” John 21:3a, b.

As professional fishermen, they would have been familiar with the waters of the Sea of Tiberias or the Sea of Galilee. This particular night must have challenged their ability to return to their former occupation. “They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.” John 21:3c. This was not the first time they had been unsuccessful in this endeavor.

John recorded that “when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.” John 21:4. The presence of a stranger on the shore must not have been an unusual sight. “Then saith Jesus unto them, children, have you any meat?” John 21:5a. This common question has been asked by many who have observed some kind of “fishing expedition.” The answer was immediately given — “They answered, no.” John 21:5b.

This “stranger on the shore” gave these men a directive — “cast the net on the right side of ship, and ye shall find.” John 21:6a. There is no scriptural evidence that these men questioned the directive — “They cast therefore…” John 21:6b. These fishermen must have been surprised, as they followed the instruction — “now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.” John 21:6c

As the Apostle John wrote his account of the life and ministry of Jesus, he referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Thus, he identified himself as the one who spoke to Peter, “It is the Lord.” John 21:7a. Even though Simon Peter was the most out-spoken of the group, he was ready to listen. “Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt (to bind about) his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked [not unclothed, but wore only his ‘working clothes’]), and did cast himself into the sea.” John 21:7b.

This action of Peter was not one of abandonment of responsibility, but of intense desire to be in the presence of Jesus. John directed attention directly to the fishing scene — “And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits [about one hundred yards]), dragging the net with fishes.” John 21:8.

The scene, again, shifted. This time John reported the view of the shore — “As soon as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.” John 21:9. The Master instructed, “Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.” John 21:10.

Peter, as the one on the land, met the boat as the group reached the shore. John wrote, “Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, and hundred and fifty and three…” John 21:11a. The Holy Spirit (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21) gave this specific detail for the benefit of skeptics, who would question the accuracy of the account — fishermen always know the number of their catch. The disciple recorded, “for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.” John 21:11b.

With the present task accomplished, “Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine…” John 21:12a. The identity of the One “on the shore” was not questioned — “And none of the disciples durst (ventured; dared) ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.” John 21:12b. One can easily imagine the scene, as these tired fishermen allowed our Risen Lord to serve them — “Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.” John 21:13.

We are not told the use made of the fish that were caught. However, as we read other scriptures, these fish were not wasted. Someone was blessed by this miracle. This principle continues to our day.

John gave us personal information — “This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was raised from the dead.” John 21:14. Some present-day critics question the number given by the apostle. Who are we to question the account of one of the men who was present?

The so called “modern criticism” movement raises more questions than they ever answer. By faith, we receive the divine account, including the eternal plan of salvation. John 3:16.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. c om

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