Summary: An examination of the post resurrection appearance of Christ as found in John 21.
On the Beach
“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.” (John 21:4)
Jesus had appeared to His disciples twice before this. He had commanded them to meet Him in Galilee. They had stayed a week or more at Jerusalem to get Thomas restored to confidence and faith. Now they are in the region of Galilee waiting for their appointment with the risen Christ.
While they were waiting, the sea called to them once again. Being men of action, they refused to remain idle. Peter said, “I’m going fishing,” and the others said, “We’ll go with you.” So off to the sea they went to enjoy the thrill of their old vocation.
Some would find fault with them for going fishing. They would say that they had gone back to the world, the “old life.” But the great business of preaching the gospel had not yet been poured upon them. The visit of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost had not yet taken place.
Today we make too much difference between the sacred and the secular. Any man’s vocation is sacred when God is in it! Right here is where many believers go astray. They say, “I haven’t been called to be a preacher or missionary, so there’s nothing for me to do.” But a layman’s influence for Christ can often be much greater than that of a pastor.
Illus.: A bank president came to his pastor concerned about one of his teller’s soul. He asked his pastor to talk to him, but the pastor said, “It would be better if you would do that. He would look upon my visit as a professional task.” “All right,” said the banker, “but, will you go with me?” The pastor agreed to do so and went and sat with the banker in his office. The banker pressed a button and the teller came in. After exchanging pleasantries, the president said, “I want to talk to you about the most important thing in the world---your relationship to Christ and your salvation.” In a surprised manner, the teller asked the president, “Do you mean to say that this matter is more important than all of our banking business?—more important than our deposits and loans?” “Yes,” said the president. “Then why haven’t you spoken to me about it before? I’ve been with you for 12 years.”
If every person considered his calling sacred and used his opportunities to witness for Christ, he would not only win many souls, he would find the highest happiness on earth.
This narrative contains a wonderful message of love for us which divides itself into three headings: (1) A Beautiful Morning, (2) A Blissful Meeting, and (3) A Bountiful Meal.
1. A Beautiful Morning
A morning after a fruitless night of labor. It was fruitless because they were without the presence of Jesus. Without Him, failure is always certain. Remember what He said in John 15: “Without me you can do nothing.”
Every fisherman knows how they felt. They wasted their strength, their bait, and their time. And (excuse the pun) the net result was zero. They were certainly a disappointed group of men.
Life is like that for many today. They spend their time and energy in running after the things of this world, but when they get to the end of the way, they will have nothing to show for the years they have lived. O, the tragedy of a wasted life!
Lots of people get on the merry-go-round of life and spend their years seeking satisfaction but at the end they have nothing to show for it.
There’s just one way to keep from wasting life and that is to give that life to Jesus.
Yes, it was a beautiful morning because Jesus showed up. He changed their fruitlessness into fruitfulness. Amd He can do the same for us. We can know His power in our lives. A Christian surgeon once said, ”I feel so close to God when I am operating that I don’t know where my skill leaves off and His begins.”
Another reason it was a beautiful morning is that the Visitor was unexpected. I say unexpected because the disciples probably thought the Lord would appear to them while they were worshiping. But here He is “on the beach!” That’s a lesson for us. Jesus will meet and fellowship with us in our everyday tasks. He wants to be a part of our total lives.
No doubt, prior to this appearance the disciples were disappointed, but God has a wonderful way of turning our disappointments into delights.
The year was 1920. The scene was the examining board for selecting missionaries. Standing before the board was a young man named Oswald Smith. One dream dominated his heart. He wanted to be a missionary. Over and over again, he prayed, "Lord, I want to go as a missionary for you. Open a door of service for me." Now, at last, his prayer would be answered. When the examination was over, the board turned Oswald Smith down. He did not meet their qualifications. He failed the test. Oswald Smith had set his direction, but now life gave him a detour. What would he do? As Oswald Smith prayed, God planted another idea in his heart. If he could not go as a missionary, he would build a church which could send out missionaries. And that is what he did. Oswald Smith pastored The People’s Church in Toronto, Canada, which sent out more missionaries than any other church at that time. Oswald Smith brought God into the situation, and God transformed his detour into a main thoroughfare of service.