Lord���s Day 18, 2011
I was glad when they said to me, ���Let us go to the house of the Lord.���
|G||ive me a deeper repentance, |
a horror of sin,
a dread of its approach.
Help me chastely to flee it
and jealously to resolve that my heart
shall be Thine alone.
Give me a deeper trust,
that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee,
the ground of my rest,
the spring of my being.
Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself
as saviour, master, lord, and king.
Give me deeper power in private prayer,
more sweetness in Thy Word,
more steadfast grip on its truth.
Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action,
and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.
Plough deep in me, great Lord,
that my being may be a tilled field,
the roots of grace spreading far and wide,
until Thou alone art seen in me,
Thy beauty golden like summer harvest,
Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.
I have no master but Thee,
no law but Thy will,
no delight but Thyself,
no wealth but that Thou givest,
no good but that Thou blessest,
no peace but that Thou bestowest.
I am nothing but that Thou makest me.
I have nothing but that I receive from Thee.
I can be nothing but that grace adorns me.
Quarry me deep, dear Lord,
and then fill me to overflowing
with living water.
���The Valley of Vision, Arthur Bennett, editor (Banner of Truth Trust, 2002).
The Gospel According to John
21 After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way. 2 Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. 3 Simon Peter said to them, ���I am going fishing.��� They said to him, ���We will also come with you.��� They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
4 But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 5 So Jesus said to them, ���Children, you do not have any fish, do you?��� They answered Him, ���No.��� 6 And He said to them, ���Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.��� So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ���It is the Lord.��� So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. 8 But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.
9 So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, ���Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.��� 11 Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, ���Come and have breakfast.��� None of the disciples ventured to question Him, ���Who are You?��� knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ after His resurrection, described in these verses, is a deeply interesting portion of the Gospel history. The circumstances attending it have always been regarded as highly allegorical and figurative, in every age of the Church. It may, however, be justly doubted whether commentators and interpreters have not gone too far in this direction. It is quite possible to spiritualize and filter away the narratives of the Gospels, until we completely lose sight of the plain meaning of words. In the present case we shall find it wise to confine ourselves to the great, simple lessons, which the passage undoubtedly contains.
We should observe, for one thing, in these verses, the poverty of the first disciples of Christ. We find them working with their own hands, in order to supply their temporal needs, and working at one of the humblest of callings,���the calling of a fisherman. Silver and gold they had none, lands and revenues they had none, and therefore they were not ashamed to return to the business to which they had, most of them, been trained. Striking is the fact, that some of the seven here named were fishing, when our Lord first called them to be Apostles, and again fishing, when He appeared to them almost the last time. We need not doubt that to the minds of Peter, James, and John, the coincidence would come home with peculiar power.
The poverty of the Apostles goes far to prove the divine origin of Christianity. These very men who toiled all night in a boat, dragging about a cold wet net, and taking nothing,���these very men who found it necessary to work hard in order that they might eat,���these very men were some of the first founders of the mighty Church of Christ, which has now overspread one-third of the globe. These were they who went forth from an obscure corner of the earth, and turned the world upside down. These were the unlearned and ignorant men, who boldly confronted the subtle systems of ancient philosophy, and silenced its advocates by the preaching of the cross. These were the men who at Ephesus, and Athens, and Rome, emptied the heathen temples of their worshipers, and turned away multitudes to a new and better faith. He that can explain these facts, except by admitting that Christianity came down from God, must be a strangely incredulous man. Reason and common sense lead us to only one conclusion in the matter. Nothing can account for the rise and progress of Christianity but the direct interposition of God.
We should observe, for another thing, in these verses, the different characters of different disciples of Christ. Once more, on this deeply interesting occasion, we see Peter and John side by side in the same boat, and once more, as at the sepulcher, we see these two good men behaving in different ways. When Jesus stood on the shore, in the dim twilight of the morning, John was the first to perceive who it was, and to say, ���It is the Lord;��� but Peter was the first to spring into the water, and to struggle to get close to his Master. In a word, John was the first to see; but Peter was the first to act. John���s gentle loving spirit was quickest to discern; but Peter���s fiery, impulsive nature was quickest to stir and move. And yet both were believers, both were true-hearted disciples, both loved the Lord in life, and were faithful to Him unto death. But their natural temperaments were not the same.
Let us never forget the practical lesson before us. As long as we live, let us diligently use it in forming our estimate of believers. Let us not condemn others as graceless and unconverted, because they do not see the path of duty from our stand-point, or feel things exactly as we feel them. ���There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.��� (1 Cor. xii. 4.) The gifts of God���s children are not bestowed precisely in the same measure and degree. Some have more of one gift, and some have more of another. Some have gifts which shine more in public, and some which shine more in private. Some are more bright in a passive life, and some are more bright in an active one. Yet each and all the members of God���s family, in their own way and in their own season, bring glory to God. Martha was ���careful and troubled about much serving,��� when Mary ���sat at the feet of Jesus and heard His word.��� Yet there came a day at Bethany, when Mary was crushed and prostrated by overmuch sorrow, and Martha���s faith shone more brightly than her sister���s. (Luke x. 39, 40; John xi. 20���28.) Nevertheless both were loved by our Lord. The one thing needful is to have the grace of the Spirit, and to love Christ. Let us love all of whom this can be said, though they may not see with our eyes in everything. The Church of Christ needs servants of all kinds, and instruments of every sort; pen-knives as well as swords, axes as well as hammers, chisels as well as saws, Marthas as well as Marys, Peters as well as Johns. Let our ruling maxim be this, ���Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.��� (Ephes. vi. 24.)
We should observe, lastly, in these verses, the abundant evidence which Scripture supplies of our Lord Jesus Christ���s resurrection . Here, as in other places, we find an unanswerable proof that our Lord rose again with a real material body, and a proof seen by seven grown-up men with their own eyes, at one and the same time. We see Him sitting, talking, eating, drinking, on the shore of the lake of Galilee, and to all appearance for a considerable time. The morning sun of spring shines down on the little party. They are alone by the well-known Galilean lake, far away from the crowd and noise of Jerusalem. In the midst sits the Master, with the nail-prints in His hands,���the very Master whom they had all followed for three years, and one of them, at least, had seen hanging on the cross. They could not be deceived. Will anyone pretend to say that stronger proof could be given that Jesus rose from the dead? Can any one imagine better evidence of a fact? That Peter was convinced and satisfied we know. He says himself to Cornelius, We ���did eat and drink with Him after He rose from the dead.��� (Acts x. 41.) Those who in modern times say they are not convinced, may as well say that they are determined not to believe any evidence at all.
Let us all thank God that we have such a cloud of witnesses to prove that our Lord rose again. The resurrection of Christ is the grand proof of Christ���s divine mission. He told the Jews they need not believe He was the Messiah, if He did not rise again the third day.���The resurrection of Christ is the top-stone of the work of redemption. It proved that He finished the work He came to do, and, as our Substitute, had overcome the grave.���The resurrection of Christ is a miracle that no infidel can explain away. Men may carp and cavil at Balaam���s ass, and Jonah in the whale���s belly, if they please, but until they can prove that Christ did not rise again we need not be moved.���Above all, the resurrection of Christ is the pledge of our own. As the grave could not detain the Head, so it shall not detain the members. Well may we say with Peter, ���Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.��� (1 Peter i. 3.)
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