Summary: Jesus made many appearances after His resurrection to prove both who He was and what He said was true.
The post-resurrection appearances John 21:1-12
Three men were sitting on a park bench one day, when a faith healer asked if any of them had any physical problems. Well, the first guy said, ‘I’ve suffered from back pain ever since I was in the war. Is there any way you can do for me?" The man reached over and touched his back and he immediately felt relief for the first time in years. The second guy wore very thick glasses and he had a hard time reading and so he asked if he could do anything about his poor eyesight. He removed the man’s glasses and threw them in the trash can. And as soon as they hit the bottom of the can, the man’s eyes cleared up and he could see everything as clear as a bell. Then the faith healer turned to the third guy and said, “And what can I do for you?” But he put his hands out and said, “Please, don’t touch me! I’m on a disability pension." He must have been a Cape Bretoner.
As we come to chapter 21, we need understand everything that’s gone on before this or we’ll have no idea why John wrote this chapter. As we began our study way back in chapter one, you’ll remember that I took eight weeks to teach that one chapter, so we could understand why John was writing this book and then I explained that his sole purpose for writing was to show us who Jesus is. And then all the rest of the book gives us the evidence we need to believe this.
Last week I finished chapter 20 and we saw that John ended the chapter by saying, “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 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.” And as far as John was concerned that seemed to be the end of everything he had to say, but the Holy Spirit had a little bit more that He wanted John to write and that’s why we have this chapter.
So, today we’ll look at the first half of this chapter and see the particular problems that these disciples had and I think we can all relate to these guys because even though they’re always portrayed by artists as holy men with halos around their heads, I think they were all just like you and me. And sometimes, believe it or not, they were even worse.
The word disciple is found 264 times in the Gospels and the book of Acts but it’s never found in the Epistles. The word has the basic meaning of "a pupil, an apprentice or an adherent." And the fact that the meaning of the word disciple is never explained in the New Testament indicates that it was a very common term among the early readers. For those who worked in the foundry, if someone were to talk about someone whose job was to ‘shake out’ you’d know exactly what they were talking about but someone else might not have a clue what you were talking about.
You see, the word disciple used to describe learners who associated themselves with a teacher, philosopher, or rabbi and the assumption was that the pupil would become like his teacher. And the idea behind it was, the greater the student’s submission to his master, then the greater his transformation and the more likely he would become his master’s successor. And the master’s ultimate expectation was that each of his disciples would be proficient in his teaching.
In the New Testament we find followers of various teachers who are called disciples. The Pharisees claimed to be disciples of Moses because they were students and followers of the law that came from him and then they had their disciples. And then there were those who followed the teachings of John the Baptist and they were called his disciples but the most common use of the word disciple in the New Testament described Jesus’ followers and especially the twelve who were later chosen to be His apostles.
John MacArthur said, “It is apparent that not every disciple was necessarily a true Christian because we see in John 6 where several of His disciples were said to have fallen away and so the term ‘disciple’ is sometimes used in Scripture in a general sense, to describe those who, like Judas, only outwardly followed Jesus.”
I think the greatest problem in the Christian church today is the assumption that spiritual growth just happens and that if people get saved then all we have to do is let them learn by themselves but Jesus said we are to make disciples. Now, I was very fortunate because when I was first saved the man who led me to the Lord spent countless hours teaching and encouraging me the word of God and as a result of his input in my life, within two years I was teaching a Bible study.