Jesus Showing Himself to His Disciples

"On this wise showed He Himself" (John 21:1)

The Lord had already showed Himself to His disciples as risen from the dead. He had called their attention to His hands and His side. They had looked upon those wounds that He had borne for them, and they had handled Him and seen that it was Himself and none other. The sight of Him had gladdened their hearts, and though they did not then understand all that His resurrection involved, it must have relieved them from many a fear and misgiving. His appearance in their midst meant that His work, the work of redemption, was indeed finished, and accepted by God, as meeting every claim of eternal truth. It meant that they would never again need to tremble before any foe, for He was greater than them all. It meant much more, which John 20 unfolds, but which time and space will not allow us to dwell upon at this time.

But "after these things Jesus showed Himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias." And they needed just such a sight of Him as He then gave them. So also do we.

Simon Peter was a man of action; his was that nature that cannot bear to be still and wait; if his Master gave him no command he would act upon his own initiative, and being such a man he exercised an influence upon others. So that when he proposed to go a-fishing his companions fell in with his plans; "and that night they caught nothing."

In that incident there lies a lesson for us; it teaches us — and may we learn the lesson — that to take our directions from men, or to follow our fellows, however good and zealous they may be, leads to fruitless toil, empty nets, and bitter disappointment. The Lord is Our Lord, and He must direct us, and He will not give His glory to another. May we recognize this and act accordingly.

As the red dawn chased the night-mists across the sea their Lord stood on the shore. Who shall tell with what tenderness He looked upon them, hungry, weary, and dispirited as they were! He had looked upon them all through that night of toil, had watched over them with an unspeakable love, for they were "His own," and the love He bore them could not change, and now had come the moment when He would show Himself to them.

Not at first did they recognize Him, not until He proved who He was by commanding the fish of the sea to come to their net. Then spake out that disciple whom Jesus loved, saying, "IT IS THE LORD."

And so they came to land and found "a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread." What a showing of Himself to them was this! How it revealed His care for them! They were cold, and He knew it; they were hungry, and He thought of it; they were tired with their toil, and He sympathized with them in their weariness; and His own hand had provided the fire to warm them, and the fish and bread to feed them. Matchless revelation of Himself! He, their Lord and Master, rejoiced to minister to them; He, death's conqueror, and creation's Lord as He had proved Himself to be, was not indifferent to their bodily necessities, He cared for their smallest need.

Time spent on meditation upon the wonderful manner in which He showed Himself to them will not be wasted, for here is a revelation of His tender interest in His own, and He is just the same today as then, the same to us as He was to those Galilean fishermen.

By His care for them He taught them the kind of Master He was, that they might follow Him whole-heartedly without fear, and do His bidding without question, and not follow each other, nor waste their time and energy in fruitless toil.

Afterwards, when they had rested and dined as His guests, He directed them as to their service. They were to follow Him, and His lambs and sheep were to be their care.

It is our privilege also as the days go by to follow and serve Him undistractedly. And this showing of Himself as careful for the needs of His own is that we should be without anxious selfish care, that delivered from self-thought we should have Himself and His interests ever paramount in heart and life. It is His desire that we should so serve Him, with an ever-increasing consciousness of His unceasing solicitude for us.

It may be that you are a backslider. You have sought for joy of heart apart from Him, and though you have toiled all night for this you have taken nothing. Oh that you would lift your eyes from your fruitless fishing, and behold Him standing near to you, standing near with rest and food for you, standing near to restore your tired heart to Himself. Will you not turn to Him again, and turn at once, and so end the night of weary toil at His blessed feet?