A morning on the sea-shore (John 21:1-12)
Notice that Peter is first to act as always! He proclaims "I go a fishing", and this is despite having already seen the risen Lord! Perhaps inactivity bothered Peter, and maybe a little doubt and uncertainty had sent in? Peter's reaction is to do something, and here he returns to what he knew best - fishing! I find this interesting as the Lord had told them specifically when he called them that their days of fishing were behind them - "I will make you fishers of men". Also, remember that Peter had said previously "we have left all, and followed thee", this included the family fishing business! Notice how quickly they are able to find a boat however, no doubt Peter's previous contacts would have assisted him there - "they went forth, and entered into a ship immediately". The other thing apparent from this is how Peter is seen to be an influencer, as the other disciples quickly follow him. There are no doubt some practical lessons to be learned here;
- It is easy to fall back into old ways, no matter how well we have walked with the Lord!
- The world will readily welcome us back, always too ready to see a believer fail and return to its snare!
- Finally, we must be careful how we behave, and the decisions we make as we may influence and stumble other believers!
However, despite a team of experienced fishermen toiling all night, they catch nothing. Notice that come the morning, the Lord appears on the shore - he is never far away from his people, and he is always there at the right time! He calls to them "children have ye any meat?" it is a lovely address, affectionate and perceptive, he knows the questions to ask of us! Of course the Lord knew the answer to any question he poses, he merely asks to challenge and provoke a response. Remember that the Lord Jesus had shown his authority and command of the seas of Galilee on several other occasions, he was the almighty creator of heaven and earth, he knew those waters and the animal life within intimately like no other master fisherman, and he had full command over them! I think here the Lord wanted to bring his disciples closer to him, for fellowship and communion, to focus them once more on things spiritual before he ascends and leaves them. Perhaps we are the same, maybe we are too easily distracted and need to be brought close once again to the Saviour and focus once again on eternal and spiritual things?
I would like to draw this short post to a close by just bringing something else out from this morning scene by the sea-shore, something a little different that I hadn't noticed before but I feel there is an application to be made here. Perhaps there is a small and simple picture here of that coming day when as the hymn writer says, "we'll all gather home in the morning, on the banks of the bright jasper sea, we'll meet the redeemed and the faithful, what a gathering that will be!" I am referring of course to that time when we shall leave this world and meet the Lord Jesus, whether one by one through the means of death, or all together if we go by the rapture, when the Lord shall come again - "I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also."
The night for those disciples had been long, exhausting and full of disappointments, a fitting picture perhaps of our time in this dark world, but note there was something better to come - "but when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore". The morning comes, and the Lord himself is there to greet them, and what a welcome greeting! You can almost hear the joy in the exclamation of John - "it is the Lord!" and Peter once again acts first, he was first to get into the boat, now he is first to get out of it as he runs to meet the Lord! I am reminded of the verse in 1 Thessalonians 4 - "for the Lord himself shall descend from heaven... to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord" What a wonderful and lovely prospect for the believer! I trust this brings encouragement to the heart of every true Christian, that no matter how long, lonely and difficult the night seems, there will be a joyful morning when we shall all finally meet the Lord and spend eternity with him!
I trust these simple thoughts will bring us joy and encouragement as we journey together toward that coming meeting.
Yours in Christ, Mark