Where the world comes to study the Bible

Report Inappropriate Ad

John - Chapter 21

Related Media

Let’s begin in prayer. Father we thank You for Your goodness toward us, and we ask that you would guide our thoughts. We pray in Christ’s name. Amen. We are completing our study of the Gospel of John tonight and are looking at chapter 21. Really, there is such an extraordinary truth in this Gospel that it is hard to do it justice by doing a chapter a week, but I have tried to distill the essence by doing an hour on every chapter and that is what we will seek to do tonight, keeping in mind that this now occurs during that forty days between Jesus’ resurrection and His ascension. Our Lord appeared and disappeared at will. The disciples never knew when He would appear, so that had to stay very alert. That is an interesting parallel with us, isn’t it? You never know when He will be coming, so we need to be alert for His coming. The point here is that one of the evidence’s for the resurrection was the multiple appearances, and often to many people at once. So, let’s take a look, first of all, at the first 11 verses, which concerns the issue of being ‘fishers of men’. This is an image they could understand, because seven of the twelve disciples were fishermen. So, there is an issue here of obedience and specifically obedience in the area of evangelism. That is to say, “follow Me and I will make you fishers of men,” was to make a claim that some change will take place in people’s lives. Let us first of all read these first verses in chapter 21. “After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias,” which is another term for the Sea of Galilee, “and He manifested Himself in this way.” Let’s stop here for just a minute. What were they doing up there? We need to look for some parallel passages. For example, let me read to you Matthew chapter 26, verse 32, because they were up there for a reason. Jesus says to His disciples before His crucifixion, “After I have been raised I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” So, He is telling them that is where they are to meet Him. If you also compare this to Matthew chapter 28, verses seven through ten, and this is post-resurrection, you will see, “Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.” So, there is a very clear understanding that they would go on to Galilee. In Mark 16, it also says something similar, following His resurrection, in that account. In verse seven we see, “Go tell His disciples and Peter, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.” So, they are in obedience to God by going up to Galilee. Returning to our own text, in verse two, “Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus and Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of the disciples were together. 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.” This has happened before, hasn’t it? Indeed, we see that there is going to be a parallel in this account, as we will see in the few verses. “But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.” Now, this is very reminiscent of Luke 5:1-11. Let’s go back to that text for just a moment. It is good to recall that account. “Now it happened that while the crowd was pressing around Him and listening to the word of God, He was standing by the lake of Gennesaret;” which is yet another name for the sea of Galilee, “an He saw two boats lying at the edge of the lake; but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.” Right there, by the way, is an interesting thought. It is very clever, because water will amplify your voice. So, Jesus created a natural auditorium. It goes on to say, “ When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, ‘Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch’. Simon answered and said, ‘Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets’.” Even though he disagreed with Him, at least he was willing to do it. The point is that He is skeptical, but he is going to do it. A lot of times we will do the same thing. We will trust in Jesus for certain things in our lives, but rarely for our business. However, we make business decisions at our peril if we do not consult God in that decision-making process. The text continues, “When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. But, when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, Lord’.” What does that mean? It means that he realizes that this is the power of God upon him. He knew there was no way this could have happened naturally. Not only the unusual circumstances, but the quantity, as well, was so great. He understood the implications of it and he was terrified because of the power of Jesus’ presence. “For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon, and Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men’. When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him.” This, then, got their attention. They dropped everything and went with Jesus. Sometimes in our lives, and you will never know what it will be, God will get our attention. Sometimes, I will speak about something, and you never know it will touch a person. Only God knows what each person needs to see and hear. But, as long as we are seeking, as long as we pursue Him, as long as we have an open heart, I believe we will find Him. It is when we close our eyes and our hearts to the evidence that we have a problem. But, when we are open to it, I believe God will ultimately show up and in a way in which we may not expect. So, the disciples did not recognize Jesus at first, because it goes on to tell us, in verse four, “Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.” This is also reminiscent of Luke chapter 24, that great chapter about the two on the road to Emmaus. I always love that passage. In verse 16, “But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him.” It was not until later on, during the breaking of the bread, that they knew who it was. Also, in John chapter 20, in verse 14, we have something very similar. “When she said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus.” Only when He spoke her name did she realize that it was Him. This reminds me, also, of a text that Jesus gives us, in Matthew chapter 11, which is an incredibly powerful claim, and which would make no sense, if He were merely a prophet. In verse 27, of Matthew 11, “All things have been handed over to me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” If He doesn’t will it, you will not know Him. Now, this is a deep mystery, but He also knows the heart and also knows if a person is seeking Him. Those who seek will find; those who knock, it will be opened; those who ask it will be given to them. So, they did not recognize Him at first. Moving on, in verse five, “So Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you do not have any fish, do you’? They answered Him, ‘No’. And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch’.” This has to really make them begin to wonder. Remember He said that He would meet them in Galilee. Here they are, trying all night long, as they did once before, to catch fish, but with no success. “So they cast and they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish.” Now, you can be sure that got their attention. “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.” Knowing what we know of Peter, that is exactly what we would expect him to do. The others would wait and bring the boat to shore, but Peter, he just jumps right in. That’s the way he was, very impetuous. In any case, all our efforts, apart from His direction and blessing, are useless. Even when you think you are in control, and you seek to do it without His authority and control, I believe, for various reasons, some people can be very successful and others can not, there is no obvious connect between righteousness and provision, no obvious connection between unrighteousness and loss, but all things equal you would do well to invite Him into your decision making process. I think it is very prudent to do that. You would also do well to acknowledge that He has expertise in all things, far greater than you might suppose you have. He knows the future, and knows your best interests better than you do. Now, it is an interesting text, then, because John was the first to realize that it was Jesus, and my suspicion is that it is because of chapter 13, verse 23. Why was John picking it up faster than any of the others? Well, in that verse we see, “There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” Then go to John 19, verse 25 and 26, “Standing by the Cross of Jesus were His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold your son’. Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’. From that hour the disciple took her into his own household.” In any case, what we see is that John knew Him best and he is the disciple who Jesus loved, because he followed Him harder than any other disciple. The more you pursue Him, the more He will manifest Himself to you. There is a connection between those two ideas. Let’s continue with the text. “But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about 100 yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it and bread.” Jesus made breakfast for them in His resurrected body. Imagine that scene. He starts the fire, and He puts the fish on it. Where He gets the fish, I have no idea. Then He gets bread. So, “Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish which you have now caught’.” So, He is adding their fish to His fish, which is an interesting combination. The spiritual life is a divine-human process, it is not just one or the other. “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.” Let go back for a moment to the text we just read from Luke chapter five, and, “The nets began to break,” but in this second fishing miracle, the net held fast. Do you see the idea there? During this present age, my view is that we do not know how many fish we have caught. It will often appear that our nets are breaking. But, here, at the end of the age, and we see the Lord, not one fish will be lost and we will discover how many there are. In other words, in this life you will have hidden impact. You will not know the fruits of your ministry and impact on other people. The ripple effect can go on and on. A fisherman, you see, catches living fish, but when he gets them, they die. That is pretty obvious. Now, let’s take the opposite. We are called to catch dead fish. Ephesians 2:1 says, You were dead in your trespasses and sins.” So, we are called, unlike the other kind of fishermen, to catch dead fish and when we do, they are made alive. They are made alive in Christ. There is a significant contrast between one and the other. Now, as I said before, probably seven out of the twelve disciples were fishermen and let’s look at some of the qualities of fishermen, especially at that time. They know how to work. They had courage to go out into deep water. They also had much patience and persistence. They knew how to cooperate with one another. They were skilled in using the equipment as well as in handling the boat. Now, in my mind, those are good examples for us to follow as we seek to catch fish for Christ. That is to say, have the courage and the faith to go out into the deep, patience and persistence, co-operating with one another, and to be skilled in knowing the objections that people raise and for looking for opportunities. And, you need to know your ‘equipment’. So, I am suggesting that verses one through eleven highlight this idea of obedience and particularly within the context of evangelism. Now, let’s move on and take a look at verses 12 to 17. Here we are going to see that we are shepherds. The real issue here is also going to be related to the issue of love. So, there is a change here, from being fishermen, to moving into the realm of the shepherd or having a pastoral impact on other people. These are some scenes that would be very reminiscent of Peter. In verse 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. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.” So, Jesus makes their breakfast and then he feeds them. It is the idea that He is shepherding them and they are called, in turn, to shepherd others. Now we have this interesting commentary. “When they finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than those’? He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You’. Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’.” Let’s note some things that would be reminiscent to Peter in this text. The first thing would be the catch of fish. That is pretty obvious. The second thing would be the feeding of the multitudes. But, the thing that think most affected him was the charcoal fire. Why that? Because it was at a charcoal fire that he denied the Lord, in John 18:18. Now, think about that. Let’s go back to that text so you can have it fresh in your minds. “Now the slaves and the officers were standing there, having made a charcoal fire, for it was cold and they were warming themselves, and Peter was also with them, standing and warming himself.” We know that it was in that context that he denied the Lord three times. Now, I want to tell you, that when you see something like that, it can have a huge impact on you. His emotions, his denial, and even though we know this, Jesus had actually had a contact with him previously. If you go back to Luke 24:34, we are given the statement that Jesus apparently had encountered Peter before this particular event, up in Galilee. So, in that verse we see, “The Lord has really risen and appeared to Simon.” This was prior to them going north up to Galilee. So, Jesus did appear personally to Simon. Sometimes you are given the impression this is the first time Jesus talked to him. I don’t think that is the case. Also, if you go to chapter 15 of 1st Corinthians, again you have the same notion here. In verse five we see, “After that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.” Cephas is another name for Peter and so He appeared to him before He appeared to the twelve. My own view here is that Peter had already met privately with Jesus and had dealt with the issue of Peter’s sins. But, Peter had denied the Lord publicly, and therefore it may have been public restoration that was required. My own thinking here is that a sin should be dealt with only to the extent that it is known. Private sins should be confessed in private; public sins confessed in public. I think sometimes people miss that idea. It depends upon the arena of influence. In any case, there is a kind of healing that takes place. For the three times that Jesus was denied by Peter, it is three times that Jesus commissions Peter to take up the mantle of being a shepherd of the sheep. You see the idea? That is not an accident. For each denial, there was an affirmation, which is very comforting to me. In my view there can sometimes be an issue of the healing of our emotions. Frankly, when we go through a painful experience, Peter would immediately have that kind of connection. You recall that Luke also mentions something that is very poignant and that is not mentioned in the other Gospels. At the very moment that Peter denied our Lord, Jesus was being led out and their eyes met. When they looked at each other at that pregnant moment, Peter wept bitterly. You see that idea? You have to connect all this together to see that he is wrestling with this very issue. There is a need for healing, then, that is implied in this text. Now, it is intriguing to me here that there are three invitations in the fourth Gospel. The first of those invitations is found in John 1:39. Jesus offers three invitations in this Gospel. In verse 39, His first encounter with the disciples, “He said to them, ‘Come, and you will see’.” His question was, “What do you seek?” I have told you before that is an incredibly important question. The first question that Jesus is recorded as asking is, “What are you looking for?” Can you imagine how significant that question is if you look at that issue? What you are looking for will determine what you find. Then if you go with me to chapter 7, verse 37, a second invitation is made. “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.” So, it is an invitation to “Come to Me and drink.” And finally, the third invitation is in our text tonight, “Come and have breakfast.” And so, there is the overall idea of “See where I am staying,” and “Come and drink,” and “Come and eat.” There is an intimacy of communion here, and table fellowship is always a critical theme in Scripture, from Genesis to Revelation. The idea of a covenant meal had huge import and that would often be done in a way to confirm a relationship, or covenant, that would be made. One of the most intriguing chapters in the Pentitude is where the 70 elders went up on the mountain with Moses. What happened there? These elders went up on the mountain to meet with the Lord. And there, it says, they ate and drank before the Lord. Isn’t that intriguing? Where did it come from? God provided it for them; they were not planning to eat up there. But, it says right there that they ate and drank before the Lord. It is this true idea of intimacy. What does Jesus promise? “I will not drink from the fruit of the vine until I drink with you anew in My Father’s Kingdom.” There is also the image, in Revelation 19, of the marriage banquet and the feast of the Lamb. There are all these images that run through the Scriptures, so this is a very significant indicator that this is a powerful closure, a covenant meal, that is taking place in this regard. Of course, the other important one was the Last Supper. As we look at this here, I see something interesting vis a vis Peter’s spiritual needs. Before he cares for his spiritual needs, he takes care of his physical needs, to dry off, get warm, and to satisfy his hunger. My own view is that the spiritual is more important that the physical, but caring for the physical can prepare the way for a spiritual ministry. That is to say, our Lord does not emphasize the soul at the expense of the body. I am very much a believer that there is a need for social action as well as the Gospel, and I believe they should be connected when we are involved in feeding the poor. In my view, I would not want to be involved in merely making people comfortable on the way to a Christless eternity. You see my point there? You can make them more comfortable in this short world, but without connecting that with the Gospel you are not connecting. One of the reasons I like the Salvation Army is because they still faithfully connect the two. Many, many organizations, the Red Cross for example, somehow along the way lost the spiritual side of their help. Remember the original three words the YMCA used? “Body, Mind and Spirit.” Soul and spirit have dropped off and now it is only body. Somehow, the invisible has been occluded by the visible. Again, I have told you this so many times, but nature eats up grace. What Francis Schaeffer meant by that is that the natural, the visible, the physical, these things become so pressing on our consciousness that we can no longer see the invisible, the supernatural, or that which is spiritual. That is what I am saying here. There should be a connect between those two, in one way or another. You know, the issue here, which is key for all of us, is a love for Jesus. And so, “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these’?” What does He mean by ‘these’? Well, one possibility is that He meant the fish. My inclination is that ‘these’ refers to the other disciples. Here is why I think that is true. Go back with me to two texts. First of all, John 13:37 tells us, “Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You now? I will lay down my life for You’.” Now, let’s connect that with something in Matthew that is even more obvious. In Matthew chapter 26, verse 33, we see a telling statement. “But Peter said to Him, ‘Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away’.” The hint there is he loves Him more than the others. You see the idea? (Q)(A): We have three options for understanding that. Do you love Me more than the other disciples love Me? Do you love Me more than you love the other disciples? Or, do you love Me more than your career? The fish symbolize that point. My own guess is that He asking him if he loves Him more than the other disciples. But, here is what it comes down to, the practical application is always the same. The key for us is whether our love for Jesus exceeds our love for anything else. That is why we have this series of questions going on here, ‘“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these’? He said to Him, ‘Yes Lord, You know that I love You’. He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’.” So, that is the first commission. “He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me’? He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You’. He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep’.” There is the second commission. Finally, there is the third, “He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me’? Peter was grieved because he said to Him the third time, ‘Do you love Me’? And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You’. Jesus said to him, ‘Tend My sheep’.” Notice the movement here; tend My lambs, shepherd My sheep, and tend My sheep. The three times here is important because it reverses Peter’s three times of denial. That is no accident. The charcoal fire is another symbol of this. Peter denied Him three times before a charcoal fire, and now he is restored three times before a charcoal fire. This, to me, is no accident. Now, perhaps too much is made between the difference of ‘agape’ love and ‘philia’ love that is so often used in these three questions and replies. I think to some extent they can be used somewhat interchangeably. For example, in John 3:16, God’s love for man is ‘agape’, but in John 16:27, it is ‘philia’. In that verse we see, “For the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me, and have believed that I came from the Father.” Another example is the Father’s love for His Son, in 3:35, and it is ‘agape’, but in 5:20 we see the word ‘philia’ used once again. There, “For the Father loves the Son,” the word ‘philia’ appears. So, don’t overdo it. We know the structure. Jesus says, “Do you ‘agape’ Me?” He says, “I philia’ You.” Jesus changes down to the term that Peter was using. You see the idea there? ‘Philia’, as you know, is a love of friendship, it is a love that humans can have for one another, but ‘agape’ is a divine love, and that is not a love of the emotions, but a love of the will. So, ‘agape’, really, is a choice of the will. That is why He says to ‘love’ one another. He doesn’t say to ‘like’ one another. He is not saying to ‘philia’ one another, because that would be impossible. Frankly, there are a lot of people that I am called to love that I don’t like. You must understand the huge difference between them. You can choose to love them, even if you don’t like them. How? Because ‘agape’ is a love of the will, and not of the emotions, and therein lies the issue. So, when I do a marriage ceremony, I always draw the contrast between building on the rock of choice, rather than the sand of feelings. Romantic love, ‘Eros’, will only sustain a relationship for a short time. Unless you build some other components of love in there, it really will not have a satisfying and long term consequence. My own view here is that we grow in maturity in relationships and ‘agape’ is meant to transform the human love. C.S. Lewis puts it so well, when he speaks of the four loves, and ‘agape’ is meant to take the human love, which, because of the Fall, is not capable of loving as they ought to have been. We have the love of friendship, ‘philia’, the love of romance, ‘eros’, the love of affection, ‘storge’, all these can be turned into divine human loves if ‘agape’ is infused. In other words, they don’t lose their identity; they become what they were intended to be all along. (Q)(A): It is difficult to say, and I might not push it that far, as a reflection of His God and man nature. In any case, I want to define love, as I have done before with you, as the ‘steady intention of your will toward another person’s highest good’. That is one of the ways of defining ‘agape’, having a steady intention. The most important thing about an action is your intention in the action. What is behind it? What is the intention involved in that? God looks at the heart, not just the outward appearance. And so, ‘agape’, being the steady intention of your will, not your emotion, toward another’s good. This is why, when relationships get frayed, when somebody lies to you or betrays you, even if it is not your desire, you can choose to do the deeds of love even when the feelings are not present. This is true in marriage and it is true in friendship. There are times when you will be invited by God to demonstrate the deeds of love even when the feelings are not there. My conviction is, when we choose, your will is the most powerful and significant thing about your life. What you choose will shape your life. If you choose to walk in the power of the spirit and connect it with the power of human choice, you now have a divine-human synergy. If I am in Jesus, I can make the choice to love that person in that unconditional way. You have to understand that if a friend betrays you, you are called to forgive them, but it doesn’t mean you have to trust them. There is a difference between the two. Forgiveness is not the same as trust. Forgiveness is a grace. Trust is earned. You see the difference there? Someone must earn your trust, but they do not need to earn your forgiveness. No one can earn forgiveness. It is a grace that you give them, which is better than they are due. But, they can, having done something like that, and if there is a breach of trust, that must be rebuilt. That can take some time. That is true, again, in all sorts of relationships. Saying all that, then, there is a nuance in John, but I don’t want to make it just all of one or all of the other. Now, let’s go to the last portion of this text, verses 18 through 25. Here we are called to be disciples. That is to say we are invited to follow Him. Remember the first term He used? It was “Follow Me.” Before I go into this, there are three things I should mention about shepherding. First of all, sheep, as you know, are very, very ignorant and defenseless. They need protection and guidance and they are also prone to wander. Again, it not a great compliment that we are compared to sheep. So, sheep need provision, protection, and guidance. That is what a shepherd does. So, we now have a shift, from fishermen, which is evangelism, to being a shepherd of God’s flock, which is discipleship. In 1st Peter 5:2, we see Paul telling his readership, “Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness.” I might also point out that Jesus Christ is called ‘Shepherd’ three times. First of all, He is called ‘the good Shepherd’ in John 10:11, “I am the good Shepherd.” In Hebrews 13:20-21 He is called ‘the Great Shepherd’. And, in the text we have before us, 1st Peter chapter five, we see, “When the chief Shepherd appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory.” So, He is the ‘good’, the ‘great’, and the ‘chief’ Shepherd, and all people involved in pastoral ministry are to obey Him as the minister to the flock. So, they are not independent nor are they autonomous. The most important thing that a shepherd can do is to love Jesus Christ. So, following up now on the verses, 18 through 25, we see Jesus saying, ‘“Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go’. Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death He would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me’.” This is similar to the text in Luke chapter five. Any one who yields himself to serve the Lord must honestly confront this matter of death. Many people have a death to their reputation and some a death to their very lives. Peter’s death, I want to stress, would not be a tragedy. It was a death in which he would glorify God. It is the same as it would be with the death of Lazarus, in John 11, verses 4 and 40, it is the means by which God would be glorified. Furthermore, Jesus said of His own death, in 12:23, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.” So, we have this clear idea of glorification. We have a similar comparison as well, if you go to Philippians 1:21, where Paul says, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The verse preceding that tells us, “I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.” The idea of glorification, or giving Him honor, is what is involved here as well. For me, a philosophy of life must be based upon a philosophy of death. If death ends all, then it should have a bearing on my philosophy of life. Wouldn’t you agree with that? If I were absolutely convinced that death meant the end, I promise you I would be living differently than I do. I sure wouldn’t be very interested in teaching the Scriptures. I’d be maximizing my pleasure and minimizing my pain. So, “To live is Christ and to die is gain” should have particular significance. So, in John 21, verses 20, “Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who had also leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You’? So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man’? Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me’.” Twice, now, He has told Peter to follow Him. “Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you’?” Our task, as we all know, is to keep our eyes on the Lord and not be distracted by ourselves or our circumstances. That is why it says, in Hebrews 12, “Fixing your eyes on Jesus, not the other runners.” The idea is to focus your sights, not on the lives of others, but rather in your own life. How He handles others, how He works in other lives, according to Romans 15, is His business, “To His own master a servant will stand or fall.” You are not in a position to judge another servant. You see the idea? In that context, those of you who feel you have more liberty should not judge with contempt those who do not, and similarly, those who have more compulsions in a certain area should not judge those who do not. We are not dealing with matters of obedience and disobedience to the revealed word of God, but there are going to be some areas of latitude and you will know some people have real convictions in a particular area and others do not. Again, as the example I gave you last week, of Eric Liddle, actually believing that Sunday was the Sabbath, but not all believers believe that. The key here, and this is a tough thing for all of us, is that we have a tendency, if we are not careful, to compare ourselves with other people. If you are writer, you may not be interested in whether a factory supervisor does well or poorly, but you will be interested on other writers in your field. You see what I mean by that? We tend to look at others and then compare ourselves with them. Frankly, that is really a loser’s game because you will lose your contentment when you compare. There is always going to be somebody that is going to do better. Or, the other extreme is that you can become arrogant by looking down at other people and displaying your pride. Either way you lose. Either you look down and you are arrogant or you look up and are depressed. You see the point? It is better to not look at them, but focus on what Jesus is calling you to be. In ministry people often try to imitate another person’s gifts and ministry and it just doesn’t work. You aren’t called to be another person, you are called to be yourself and allow Christ to live through you as you. That is to say, allowing His life to be lived through you, as you, and through the unique prism of your own personality. That is what I mean by that concept. So, as we conclude this Gospel, we see this coda, “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they written in detail, I suppose even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” We know that Polycarp was a disciple of John and that Polycarp also discipled Ignatius. Ignatius quotes Polycarp as saying it was John that wrote this Gospel. In other words, there is a real connect. We know who this ‘other disciple’ was. “This is the disciple who testifies to these things.” The word ‘witness’ is used 47 times in this Gospel. It is the issue of the credibility of this witness. These are not just cleverly made up fabrications. Turn with me to 2nd Peter and you will see this idea. In verse 16 of chapter one we see, “We did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” Here is particularly referring to the transfiguration. “For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased’. We ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.” Who is the ‘we’? Peter, James, and John are the ‘we’. They heard it. The people who were involved in this, the Apostolic witness, really was an eyewitness kind of testimony. As for Luke, and as for Mark, Mark wrote in the connection of the authority of Peter, and Luke under the influence of Paul. Both of them have an apostolic origin in their two Gospels. Then, of course, Matthew and John would have been eyewitnesses. Apostolic origin, apostolic date, apostolic doctrine, and then acceptance were things used as criteria for regarding these books as truly coming from God. So, John tells us, “I am testifying these things and there are many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” We only chose our material very, very selectively. He only chose seven miracles, in chapters one through twelve, as signs of who Jesus is, and then the great miracle, the resurrection, at the end of the Gospel. In both cases, though, these were signs to demonstrate that Jesus is who He claims to be and it brings him right back to the purpose statement at the end of John chapter 20, “Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” In other words, he has written this book for the express purpose that you may put your trust in Jesus as the Son of God, that He is in fact Christ, the Son of God. It is not intellectual acceptance, but personal reception, which is what that word really means. So, there comes a point where each person will make a choice. Understand, a choice will be made, and not to choose to really to choose. You have no way around it. The only options you have are the two malefactors on the crosses next to Jesus. Those two criminals represent the only options you have. The third option, which we suppose we can do, is just to ignore Him, but at the end of the day that will be tantamount to rejecting Him. Make it an informed choice and base it on true evidence. This is the evidence that John is marshalling and the other apostles do the same. They always go back to the evidence, which is the case for the resurrected Christ. (Q)(A): In His resurrected body, which is quite brilliant and glorious, when John sees Him in heaven, and when Paul sees Him in His glory on the road to Emmaus, it would seem that it was a different body because in both cases they were blinded by His brilliance. My thinking here is that Jesus, accommodated Himself in His resurrected body much as He did when He was on earth. Recall the transfiguration, it was almost as if the veil was open for a moment, they saw His glory, and then it closed. Similarly, I believe, in John 18, in the garden, when the soldiers come up to Him, and He asks them, “Whom do you seek,” and they said, “Jesus of Nazareth,” and then when He said, “I am,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So, something happened. It was enough to overwhelm them. So, my suggestion here is that He accommodated Himself, but there was always a moment of revelation. Mary did not recognize Him until He spoke to her. Or, in the breaking of the bread they realized it was Him. Or, in the casting of the nets, they realized it was Him. There was always something that brought them back to a previous connection. He had a unique way of speaking, or breaking bread, or casting the nets. In each case He manifested Himself. My think here is that it would be illustrative of the fact that we continue to search for Him and ultimately He reveals Himself, but in His own time and in His own way. At the end of the day, my view here is that it would be beyond our imagination to comprehend the brilliance and the glory. Let me close in a prayer. Lord, we thank You for this day, and for the blessings and the opportunities of this day. May we walk in them in faith and may we walk in them and manifest Your love and may we walk in hope, the hope of the sure return of Christ. We pray in His name. Amen.

Report Inappropriate Ad