Summary: TURNING FAILURE INTO SUCCESS.
HOW JESUS SHOWED HIMSELF
After His resurrection no one could see Jesus through mere curiosity or by accident. Neither Mary nor the two men who walked with Him on the way to Emmaus knew Him till He revealed Himself to them. None but disciples ever saw Him in His resurrection body. The vision now is a spiritual one; only those who believe shall see the glory of God in the Person of the risen Christ. "On this wise shewed He Himself" on that memorable morning.
1. The Time. It was—
1. AFTER A NIGHT OF FAILURE. "That night they caught nothing" (v. 3). In those days of quiet testing. Peter got somewhat restless and said, "I go a-fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee." They followed Peter, and they caught nothing. Disappointment and defeat may prepare us for a new manifestation of the grace and power of Jesus Christ. To labour without His presence and blessing is like putting our treasure in a bag with holes. Failure in business may be a good preparation for spiritual success.
2. AT THE BREAKING OF THE DAY. "When the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the shore" (v. 4, r.v.). Sorrow may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning when He appears He was there, but they knew Him not There is always the breaking of a new day when Christ shows Himself afresh to the weary soul. Every vision of Him is a new and fuller dawning of the heavenly day.
II. The Manner. Our Lord followed the example of no man. He had His own unique way of showing both Himself and His doctrine. He began to reveal Himself by—
1. LEADING THEM TO CONFESSION. "Children, have ye aught to eat? They answered Him, No!" (v. 5, R.V.). This was an honest confession of failure. They had taken nothing, so they made no attempt to make it look like something. They had nothing, neither for themselves nor for others, and they said so; and by so doing put themselves in a position to be blessed by the Lord. Beware of misrepresentation and exaggeration. Christ is interested in our reports.
2. TESTING THEIR FAITH. "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find" (v. 6). They had toiled all night to no purpose, and now that the day was breaking they had given up all hope. But the authoritative voice of that stranger on the shore, so full of promise, was heard, and immediately obeyed. There is always a ring of certainty about the Word of the Lord Jesus. To hear it is to have our hearts tested by it.
3. TURNING FAILURE INTO SUCCESS. "They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes" (v. 6). They obeyed, and their faith was abundantly rewarded. By this sign which followed, John was constrained to say, "It is the Lord." This is the Lord's doing; John feels that it is so like Him. Yes, it is just Christ-like to turn our total defeat into unprecedented success, through the giving of His Word and the believing of it. It is in "this wise" that sinners are converted, and fruitless Christians made wise to win souls.
4. PROVIDING FOR THEIR WANTS. "As soon as they came to land they saw a fire of coals, a fish, and a loaf" (v. 9, R.V., margin). Even in His resurrection body the Lord was not unmindful of the bodies of His cold and hungry disciples. This is another revelation of His love and care for His own. It was not, perhaps, a sumptuous feast, but it was according to His manner as the Shepherd of His flock. "The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want." "My God shall supply all your need" (Phil. 4:19). The Son of God is always before us in His providential arrangements.
5. HAVING FELLOWSHIP WITH THEM. "Jesus said unto them, Come and break your fast..Jesus then cometh and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise" (v. 12, 13). Now, "none of the disciples durst ask Him, Who art Thou?" None but the Lord Himself could act in this manner, showing such grace and power. Christ has a way of giving, whereby He Himself is made known (Luke 24:30, 31). He gave Himself for us. The law demands, but the grace of God that has come to us in Christ Jesus delights to give. It is an ever memorable experience to have our long spiritual fast broken by the blessings provided for us, and offered to us by Him who died for us and rose again. Eat, O friends! Come and dine. "Behold, all things are now ready" (Matt. 22:4).