John 21:1 After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.
Some general observations about John 21:1-17 will be made before getting into the specific applications. For today I want us to note generally how John urges us to see and know Jesus more. The first general observation about what we see in John 21:1-17 is that....
How John's Gospel makes Jesus more clearly seen and known
John's purpose in writing his gospel is spelled out for us in John 20:30-31 "Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31but 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." Time and time again we John referring to the signs that Jesus did, the predictions he made and the conversations He had. Half of John's Gospel (John 12-21) is devoted to the final few weeks of Jesus time here on His earth as He would go to the cross, rise from the dead and appear to His disciples.
Among the many other features we could point out about John's Gospel, one of the words we find repeated throughout are the where He speaks of making himself known or "manifested".1 The purpose of Jesus "manifesting" Himself or making Himself more "seen and known" was to reveal His glory. (John 2:11, 21:1,14) According to John 21:14, it was the third time Jesus made a post-resurrection appearance to His disciples.2 This third appearance in John 21:1-17 will serve to ultimately restore Peter who had denied Him three times during the eve of His crucifixion. (John 18:17-27)
With that first general observation made, we can now note a second general observation about this text of John 21:1-17, namely....
The Lord will often urge you and I to find comfort in being obedient to know Him, which will often mean doing things we're not used to, rather than finding comfort in the things we're normally used to.
For instance, in our main text of John 21, we see these words in John 21:1 "After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way." The disciples were still reeling from the events of the past two weeks: Jesus crucifixion, resurrection and appearances to them. I see Peter and the disciples trying to process all that they have experienced. Many times people will cling to what they know - in Peter's case it was fishing. Perhaps that is where you are at right now, in a time of transition, wondering what is going to happen next. The Lord will often urge you and I to find comfort in being obedient to know Him, which will often mean doing things we're not used to, rather than finding comfort in the things we normally used to.
The text says: "All night they had fished, and had caught nothing." (John 21:3) Peter thought he could find comfort and make sense of things in what he knew? He was a fisherman. Yet despite all his experience, he was unsuccessful. This set of events remind us of exactly what took place to Peter when the Lord came to Him at the beginning of His ministry.3
In tomorrow's blog we will draw out some specific applications from John 21:1-17 as to how we can see and know Jesus more clearly....
1. John 1:31, 2:11, 3:21, 7:4, 9:3, 17:6, 21:1, 21:14.
2. The other two instances are recorded in John 20:19-29. In the first instance the disciples were hiding in fear but hanging on in little faith in John 20:19. When He appeared to them, their faith was strengthened. The second time came eight days later in John 20:26, resulting in Thomas' confession of His Deity.
3. Peter and his men had been fishing in Luke 5 and lo and behold, they could catch no fish. Jesus told them back then to do what He was now instructing them in John 21 - "let down there nets". I am certain this is why the Apostle John was reminded of that first encounter some three and one-half years earlier, for He says in John 21:7 "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."