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selves without delay, whether we believe or not, what we expect from our faith, and what it has done for us.
28. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God.
He had just had experience of his infinite knowledge, and therefore might well cry out, "My Lord and my God." If Christ is not both to us, we know him not. To be our Lord, he must be God; and owning him for our Lord, and Governor, without thinking him to be God, is having more Gods than one. If Thomas was in a mistake, what can we think of Jesus for not correcting it?
29. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.
Make this blessedness yours. God give us humbling views of ourselves, and then we shall believe.
30. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
In the course of this gospel we have had frequent intimations given us of the great end and use of 'Christ's miracles, and we are called upon at the close of it, and especially on occasion of the crowning miracle of the resurrection, to observe it once more, namely, that Jesus, the worker of them, is the Christ, the Lord's anointed, our king, priest, and prophet, the Son of God, himself God, and therefore able to bear the whole weight of our salvation, by making atonement for our sins, and raising us from our dead state of sin to the feeling, and power of a new life in God. Even so, Lord Jesus! Let this be the great end and aim of all our reading and hearing of thee, that being made alive unto God by thee, we may rejoice in our adoption, and be always growing in grace, live in hope, die in peace, and be raised in glory. Amen.
Chap. xxi. ver. 1-7.
CHRIST APPEARS TO THE DISCIPLES IN GALILEE.
1. After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee.
They would go to fish to supply their needs. These were the men who were to convert the world; and the power of God was more conspicuous in the meanness of their condition, and want of learning. What cannot God do for us? Verily, nothing hinders his work in us, but ourselves.
3. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
God brought nothing to the net. Murmur not at your disappointments. The hand of God is in them; and if you see it, and take them patiently, they will prove the way for greater manifestations of his grace.
4. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore; but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
Here was a blessing for them which they did not expect, and which made them full amends for their night's unsuccessful labour. "But the disciples knew not that it was Jesus." And why did they not, if he appeared like himself, as we have no reason to suppose but he did? Those who were to be witnesses of Christ's resurrection, are particularly careful to acquaint us, for our greater assurance, how backward they were to believe it themselves.
5. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No.
He knew they had not, he knows that we have no spiritual food but what he gives us; and he still asks the question, with no other intent than to suit himself to our answer. If we say, No; Lord, help me; he wants nothing more from us, but he is ready to fill us with all good things: if the heart does not give this answer, he leaves it to itself.
6. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.
Doing what Jesus bids us, in faith and hope of what he will do for us, we are sure is casting the net on the right side of the ship; and the way to find Christ in all his benefits.
It is Dr. Whitby's observation here, that "Christ being absent, they caught nothing; but when he is present, they having his command, enclose a very great multitude of fishes; to teach them, that though in preaching the gospel, they were insufficient to do anything as of themselves, (2 Cor. iii. 5,) yet having his command to go and teach all nations, and the promise of his presence with them, they should be wonderfully successful in bringing many to the faith."
This is quoted to show the benefit and pleasure of looking farther than the bare letter, or outside of scripture; and will be my apology for some attempts of the same kind, in the course of this exposition.
6. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it, for the multitude of fishes.
Three thousand souls were caught in the net of the Gospel by St. Peter's first sermon. It is an exceeding great multitude which will be gathered by it, from first to last, into the kingdom of heaven. Now is our time.
7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved, saith unto Peter, It is the Lord.
If we are Christians indeed, we may say this from our
experience of his work in us, our repentance, faith, and willing subjection to God, our new heart, and new spirit.
7. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea.
Peter had been without his upper coat, but he did not think it becoming to come so to Jesus. O! that we were in as much haste to come to Christ, as Peter was, when he cast himself into the sea to go early to the Saviour.
Chap. xxi. ver. 8—17.
THEY ARE SUCCESSFUL IN FISHING, AND CHRIST DINES WITH THEM.
8. And the other disciples came in a little ship, (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes.
9. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread.
See this, as leading to him, in the provision he has made for your souls in the scriptures. Look to him, who always stands ready for you with his bread of life.
10. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye caught.
That they might feast their eyes with the greatness of the miracle, and have a foretaste of their success in preaching the gospel. Blessed Jesus! speak this word here.
11. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.
12. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the
disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.
They were struck dumb with wonder, and an awful sense of his presence.
13. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.
Is it our great desire and daily prayer, that Jesus should thus come to us with a portion of meat for our souls?
14. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
Not the third time in all of his showing himself to any after his resurrection, but to all the apostles, or several of them together. See chap. xx. 19, 26; 1 Cor. xv. 5—7.
15. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
Lovest thou me more than these present? namely the other disciples. Peter's former zealous professions, and present behaviour in casting himself into the sea to come to Jesus, gave occasion for the question. "More than these,” according to some, is, more than his nets and fishing boat; that is, more than the gain of his occupation, —more than the world. I can hardly think the question was so put to Peter; with respect to others, it may afford matter of serious consideration.
"He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee." Let us not mistake; Christ expects this answer from the sheep, as well as the shepherd: O heart! speak for thyself. "He saith unto him, Feed my lambs." My lambs, My sheep. These were purchased with Christ's own blood, and yet liable to perish for want of their own, and the shepherd's care. Do not perish; you need not. If your shepherd (namely, your minister) should neect you, neglect not yourselves. Never forget who is great Shepherd and Bishop of your souls, (namely, Jesu-Christ,)