JOHN 21


1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.

2 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.



3 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.

...he knew a little time must elapse before anything definite could be done in execution of the work in which Jesus had told them they were to be employed; and that it would be the best way of filling up the time to return to Galilee, the more especially as Jesus had said he would see them there (Matt. xxviii, 10).

...On the lake, then, we find them fishing, and fishing in vain a whole night -- probably by Christ's own arrangement, that he might find effective opportunity of introducing himself to them. In the morning, as they are nearing the shore, a friendly voice from the shingle enquires if they had got anything. They see the speaker, but know not who he is. *



4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.



6 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. 

There was something in the voice that constrains them to comply. *



7 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.

John eyes their friend on the shore; he recalls a similar circumstance some years before. Quickly as a woman's intuition, he jumps to the conclusion that it is Christ.

Peter does not wait another moment. With the ardour of discipleship, which was always manifest, he hastily puts on his fisherman's coat, of which he had probably divested himself to deal with the extraordinary haul of fish (or possibly the warmth of the morning had led him to sit without it -- in a not absolutely nude, but comparatively unclothed state); and getting over the boat's side into the water, he swam or waded to the land, a distance of about 100 yards, to where Christ was. *



8 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.

The others took time to pull to shore, dragging the fish-laden net after them. They would wonder why Peter was in such a hurry to land. *



9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.

10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, 153: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.



12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

...a proposal which very likely was a welcome one, after a toilsome night on the water.

Who lit the fire, who got ready the meal, there is no hint; but with such a host, there need be no questions. The disciples appear to have stood for a moment uncertain what to do -- momentarily embarrassed between their deference to the interesting friend standing before them, whose identity had not been declared; and the necessity for dealing with the fish, which were struggling in the net-meshes in the water.

...No one dared as yet to ask the host who he was Though nothing had been said, they "knew it was the Lord," and were awed in his presence. *



13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.



15 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.

When they had eaten enough, a most interesting passage ensued between him and Peter, the beauty and force of which is usually lost by a false application. *

*Nazareth Revisited Ch 60.



25 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.

...the Spirit of God has given us a perfect work of the kind it proposed to accomplish when it set the pen of the apostles to work. What this work was it tells us, namely, to reduce to writing enough to enable men to believe in Jesus unto life eternal (Jno. 20:31)-not everything; for, adds the writer,

"the world itself would not contain the books that should be written "

Common sagacity will inform us that it must have been so.

Consider the sayings of three years and a half. What space must have been occupied-unprofitably occupied-by them, if all had been recorded; for such a cumbrous writing would have failed as a means of general enlightenment. What was proposed was not a report in the modern newspaper sense, or even a biography as the 19th century understands.

The object was to make such a selection out of the materials of three years and a half as should exhibit a picture of the whole, sufficiently complete for the purpose in view. The doing of this with such conciseness and perspicuity and grace as is done in the gospel narratives is itself evidence that it is a work of God and not of (though by) man, for man never writes with this gift.

And the variations at which the undiscerning stumble are not inconsistent with it at all. We must consider that the same things would be said many times in the life of Christ, and with the variations in the form of expressing them in which intelligence always delights to indulge, for only crystallised mediocrity repeats itself.

Out of all these variations, the Holy Spirit makes its own selection in writing an abridged account of them. It uses four men in harmony with the four square organization of the commonwealth of Israel, that in the mouths of several witnesses, the matter might be established in accommodation to human infirmity.

It gives the substance, and rarely the ipsissima verba of the conversations occurring, and where a conversation as reported by one historian differs from that by another, it is not that either are wrong, but that both versions of it occurred in the conversation.

Both Jesus and the Pharisees in the course of the remarks passing between them would in turn use the expressions imputed to them. But as what is aimed at in each case is a precis and not a verbatim report, these variations do not appear in one narrative, but only in the comparison of two.

So in the variations of the title on the Cross, it was in three languages, and the idiom of each language differs, and according as it seemed good to the Holy Spirit to translate the one or the other would the difference appear.

So on the Mount, Peter would express his idea more than once, in the excitement of the moment, and not each time in the very same words, and the Spirit selecting one set of words in one account and another in another would not contradict itself.

We must finally remember that the Holy Spirit was the speaker of the words by Christ, and in writing an account of the work, it could exercise that freedom of paraphrase which any author does in reporting his own sayings and opinions.

This is a principle that also explains the verbal variations of the Holy Spirit in quoting itself in the New Testament from the Old.

The carnal learning of the schools has presumed to judge the oracles of God by their human canons of criticism with the effect of undermining their reliability and authority.

This leaven has been introduced among us from clerical sources. The unskilled or the pre-disposed have been captivated by it. The discerning will not give place to it. This is the difficulty. There can be no compromise.

Editor.

The Christadelphian, June 1886