Have you noticed that the Gospel of John begins and closes with a reference to a morning? The first chapter opens with an allusion to the very first of all mornings, to the time when all things that "were made" were called into being. It relates to the beginning of the creation of God, and we are shown there that the Lord Jesus was before all created things, that He was in the beginning with God, and that He was God. Truly it was a bright and glorious morning when all things sprang into existence at the word of the Creator Lord.
In John's last chapter we read of another morning, which broke upon the shores of the Sea of Tiberias. We should have known nothing of the striking incident of this daybreak, had not the Lord Jesus, Who was present at the first of all mornings, been also present at that lakeside.
Seven tired and dispirited fishermen were driving shorewards as the morning sunbeams were filling the eastern sky. It had been for them a wearisome night of fruitless toil, and they approached the land with heavy hearts. Then it was that through the morning mists they discerned a solitary watcher on the shore, but they "knew not that it was Jesus."
The disciples were not expecting His appearance at that place and moment. They had seen their Risen Lord in the privacy of the upper room at Jerusalem, the doors being closed for fear of the Jews. But which of them would expect to see Him in the chill dawn of a spring day amid the solitudes of a sea beach? Yet the Lord had said to them all that He would not leave them orphans, but would come to them, and that He would go before them into Galilee.
But then the Stranger spoke, and His voice travelled, sweet and clear, across the waves to the fishermen. They soon knew that it was no ordinary Galilean addressing them, and at His bidding they forgot their night-long failure, and shot their net once more to find now that they at once inclosed a great shoal of fish, too many for their united strength to drag the hundred yards or so to the shore.
This kind of thing been done before in those waters to the personal knowledge of most, if not all, of them. And some instinctive working in the affections and memory of the disciple "whom Jesus loved" awakened his recognition. "It is the Lord," he said to Peter. Who else would show them such kindness and bounty? Not only a netful of fish in the sea, but on the land a cheerful fire of coals for wet and tired workers, with broiled fish and bread for their hunger.
This was just like the Master, Who while He was with them never suffered them to lack anything. He had now prepared a morning banquet for them in the wilderness. He bade them come and break their fast. Let them sit down at His table. He Himself was there to serve them.
The disciples were also instructed to bring of the newly-caught fish to augment the feast, for there was now an ample supply of "great fishes." They knew how many were caught, not approximately, in round figures, as twelve or thirteen dozen, or seven or eight score. They counted them accurately to a fish — one hundred and fifty-three.
But what a marvellous meal it was! What a unique open-air breakfast! We do not know of another like it. Seven men only in the small company, men of no note; but the Eighth — the Risen Lord — gave the occasion its great distinction. His presence more than compensated for all the rigours and difficulties which brought them to that fire-side. The great world of men was still asleep, but these were awake, and being "awake, they saw His glory."
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The Lord often prepares a surprise for the early risers. Some, as a matter of course, expect some good thing from Him, for they have so very often proved His faithfulness and kindness. It is seldom however that any anticipate correctly the exact form that the Lord's blessing will take. He knows however those who rise to seek His face and to fish in the deep waters of His word. He will direct them where to cast in the net, and, best of all, He Himself will prepare nourishing and appetising food for the opening day. They will receive their portion.
The early morning is always a time of sure and rich blessing for those who can take advantage of its solitude and freshness. Night-watchers and night-workers are perforce awake at day-break, but others with a self-denying effort which brings its own reward rouse themselves from their beds that they may ensure personal communion with their unsleeping Lord. And when we look at the matter squarely, how is it possible to begin any day better than by partaking of the Lord's bounteous and loving provision?
Many years ago, I was travelling all night in a crowded train to the extreme West of England. Daydawn came upon us somewhere in Somersetshire. As the ever-welcome daylight brightened our compartment, my attention happened to be drawn to a quiet, unobtrusive young man occupying one of the corner seats. He was a perfect stranger to me, but I could not help observing that he drew from an inner pocket a small Bible or Testament, and for some minutes scanned its pages. Something told me, though I have no means of verifying its truth, that this was a morning habit with him.
The circumstances were altogether novel. A jolting railway carriage and a promiscuous company were in no sense ideal surroundings for private devotion. But the exceptional conditions were not made an excuse by our friend for omitting his daily exercise, and I think his consistency was duly rewarded.
There were only six persons to be seen in that railway carriage, but just then one could not but feel there was a Seventh, though He was invisible. And more than this, it is not too much to believe that for my unknown friend there was, as on the Galilean shore, a fire of coals, and fish laid thereon, and bread. The Lord does not deny His own word. And Christ, the wisdom of God, said long ago, "I love them that love Me, and those that seek Me early shall find Me" (Prov. 8:17). He has further promised those that keep His commandments that He will manifest Himself to them as He does not to the world (John 14:21).
I think my young friends will have no difficulty in discovering my object in writing this letter. Always remember that throughout your lives first things belong to God. Be out early in the morning while the dew is yet on the ground that you may gather for yourself your daily portion of the fresh manna given for that day. Remember also that however early you may rise to seek the trysting-place, the Lord will be there first, and His repast will be ready and waiting for you.