Notes on John 21:7-14

John 21:7‑14  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The love which is of God makes the eye single, and thereby the whole body is full of light. John was quick to discern the Lord. “Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith to Peter, It is the Lord. Then Simon Peter, hearing that it was [lit. is] the Lord, girt his over-coat about [him] (for he was naked), and cast himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits off), dragging the net of the fishes. So when they had got off to the land, they see a coal-fire laid, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith to them, Bring of the fish which ye have now taken. Simon Peter [therefore]1 went up and drew the net to land2 full of great fishes, a hundred [and] fifty three: and, many as they were, the net was not broken. Jesus saith to them, Come, dine. And none of the disciples durst inquire of him, Who art thou? knowing that it was [lit. is] the Lord. Jesus3 cometh and taketh the bread and giveth to them, and the fish likewise. This already [was the] third time Jesus was manifested to the disciples4 after having risen from [the] dead.” (Vers. 7-14.)
But if John was the first to perceive who He was that spoke to them, Peter with characteristic promptness is the first to, act so as to reach His presence, yet not naked but in seemly guise. He had failed miserably and profoundly and repeatedly, but not his faith; even as the Savior had prayed for him that it should not fail. Despair because of the gravest failure is no more of faith than the indifference which hears not the Savior's voice, and, never knowing His glory or His grace, never has the consciousness of its own guilt. In the Lord he thus learns experimentally to confide, after having too much trusted his own love for his Master; and Christ must be all to the heart of him who is to strengthen his brethren.
The Lord however despises none, and the other disciples follow in the small boat, dragging the net full of the fishes; for He had not given such a haul to leave it behind. Grace makes to differ, never to behave oneself unseemly. Peter carried himself suitably toward the Lord; so did they in their place; yet had they all one heart and purpose to please the Lord.
And so will it be when the abundance of the sea shall be converted to Zion. What will not be the effect of all Israel being saved? If their fall is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles, how much more their fullness? What shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead? Jehovah will destroy the veil that is spread over all nations; and Israel will not only be the instrument of divine vengeance on their enemies, but of God's mercy, and blessing to all the families of the earth. “And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from Jehovah, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver.” (Mic. 5. 7, 8.)
It is remarked and remarkable that, when the disciples landed, they see a fire laid, and fish thereon and bread. The Lord had wrought before them and without them, though He would give them communion with the fruits of the activity of His grace. He will have got ready a Gentile remnant Himself before He employs His people to gather the great millennial catch out of the sea of Gentiles. The grace of God will work after a far more varied and vigorous sort than men think; and while He deigns to use His people, it is good for them at that very time to learn that He can and does work independently. Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! How verified both in Israel, and in the Gentile.
Yet the Lord would have His own enter into the fellowship of what He has wrought as well as enjoy their own work. “Jesus saith to them, Bring of the fish which ye have now taken. Simon Peter therefore went up and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty-three; and, as many as there were, the net was not broken. Jesus saith to them, Come dine.”
The contrast with all that characterizes the actual work of His servants is very plain. The parable in Matt. 13 shows us that even up to the close of the age good and bad fish are contained in the net, and that it is the marked call of the fishermen just then to put the good into vessels as well as to cast the bad away; whilst the angels, as we know, do the converse work, when judgment comes at the Lord's appearing, of severing the wicked from among the righteous. The miraculous draft in Luke 5, descriptive of present service, shows us the nets breaking and the boats into which the fishes were put beginning to sink. Nothing of this appears here where the days of the kingdom are set forth, when the Lord is with His own on earth. There are many great fishes named but none bad; the net is expressly said to be unbroken; there is no thought of the boat sinking, and the net was dragged along instead of the boat being filled. Thus a wholly different and future state of things is pictured, after this age closes and before eternity begins. The Lord will yet and then renew His associations with His people on earth: I speak not of the Father's house on high and its heavenly relations, but of those to be blessed and a blessing on earth. It is an unquestionably scriptural prospect, and most cheering, that this very earth is to be delivered from its present corruption and thralldom into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. For the revelation of His sons the earnest expectation of the creation waits, though, as we know, the whole of it groans and travails in pain till now. But it will not be so always. The Lord Himself is coming, and the day of His appearing will see creation delivered, not of course as we who have the firstfruits of the Spirit are now into the liberty of grace by faith, but the creation itself also by power shall be freed into the liberty of glory.
And the Lord on that day was giving the pledge of the future widespread blessing, when the Gentile world will afford common joy, and the occasion of the manifestation of His risen power and presence, to His people. None but He could or would act after such a sort. His grace is unmistakable. “And none of the disciples durst inquire of him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus cometh and taketh the bread and giveth to them, and the fish likewise. This already [was the] third time Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after being risen from the dead.” It is the day when they shall all know Him from the least of them to the greatest of them, none more needing to say, Know the Lord. “At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of Jehovah; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of Jehovah, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.” (Jer. 3:17, 1817At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. 18In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers. (Jeremiah 3:17‑18).)
There would be an utter gap for this world and God's glory in it, a gap which nothing else could fill up for him who takes a large and observant view of God's dealings with the world, if there were not a period of divine blessedness here below for Israel and the nations through the grace and to the praise of the risen Lord Jesus. This does not in the least interfere with the deeper and higher things above the world to which the Christian and the church are now called. On the contrary, when the reality and the true character of the kingdom at Christ's appearing are not seen, there is a confusion of it with the proper hopes of the church, which is ruinous to the distinctive blessedness of the church on the one hand and of Israel with the Gentiles on the other.