Thursday 28 April 2022


JOHN 21 v.1/14


The scene in our Gospel story is the Sea of Galilee just after the crucifixion.  Seven of the disciples were there feeling probably a little guilty; only John had remained at the Cross leaving the others to feel a sense of betrayal.  The main character in this story however is Peter, the man who denied the Lord and is now devastated with himself, a feeling which many Christians may have passed through.  Now things are going to change as he meets the risen Christ.

There is nothing to induce a feeling of hopelessness so much as a time of tragic failure.  Peter had wept bitterly after denying Jesus; he had been so close to the Lord for three years, and failed Him at the last days.  We may all have experienced a similar feeling when we have succumbed to temptation in a time of weakness.

When the chapter begins, they are all wondering what is going to happen to them, all their plans and hopes for the future have been blown apart, and they have to make their own way of living; no palaces for them, not rich, not able to cash in on their experiences.

In the passage we see the poverty of the men getting into a small boat to fish through the night so as to get food.  Much of the fishing in the Sea of Galilee was done at night in those days as it is yet today. Fishermen used torches to attract the fish to the boat, and then netted them. But although they were expert fishermen, the disciples had laboured throughout the night and had caught nothing. That must have been a rather unusual experience for them. Yet as this account makes clear, it was the Lord's intention that they catch nothing on this occasion

These were the men from whom Church bishops are (falsely)stated to be in a line of succession.  They were the creators who took the gospel to other countries by just telling the story of Jesus, as he commanded, without raising doubts or making amendments.  How simple it must have been in the early Church, where there were no academics to discuss self-made irregularities to cause confusion. 

Those men spoke with conviction and dedication to Christ, taking the gospel to that part of the anceint world, which led eventually, to become the mighty Church of Christ.  This teaches us that when men commit themselves to pure bible doctrine, even when there is full opposition, God will bless their labours and ministry.  The shining example of this was the (late)Billy Graham, the greatest preacher in Christian history, who could cause many thousands  to gather at every meeting, just by devoted bible doctrines. Billy always stated it was God who drew the crowds not him.

God loves all people, and wants them to be saved, but the only way this can be done, is by truly telling the people what God has called for. The biblical illiteracy is momentous, as we have children growing up without any teaching of Christianity, the schools are encouraged to teach explicit sexual activity of every kind to very young children, but Christianity is deemed to be hate speech in many Colleges and schools. If religion is taught, other faiths and atheism must be taught. The consequence is that generations are failing to carry forward the Christian message.

In Western countries, there is only mockery of Christianity, and we need the people we taught to come and teach Christianity here.  The majority are non-believers, and the word ‘Christ’ I nothing more than a swear word. Yet many will delude themselves they are Christians.

Christianity is based on the Cross, the very heart of our faith where Jesus died for the sole purpose of having God forgive us of our sins. God hates sin, and will not have uncleansed sinners in heaven. The cruel and painful death of Jesus enabled God to make us righteous in his sight, the price having been paid by Jesus for our forgiveness. But God demands that people must accept that Jesus did this, and we must accept Jesus as our Saviour and Lord. If we do not do so, God will not accept us.

In the hundreds of funeral services I have taken, this has either not been known or not believed. People will not believe Jesus died and was risen again, because they can’t understand how that could happen.  The same people cannot understand how a mobile phone can connect you to someone far away, or how you can watch events from around the world on a box in your living room, but they readily use both. 

The reason they do not understand the Resurrection, is because Ministers in the Church are reluctant to preach the message.  There is fear of someone complaining, but if a preacher never gets complained, he is likely not preaching the gospel fully.  Of course, some preachers don’t really believe the Resurrection story themselves.

 This is the third and final Resurrection appearance of Jesus.  The Apostles had left Jerusalem and returned to Galilee, there were seven of them. Peter decided to go fishing and the others joined him, but through the night they did not catch any fish. Jesus was standing on the shore and called out to them to ask hoe many they had caught, and then told them to cast out their net on the other side of the boat.  They did not realise it was Jesus calling, but did as he said, and their net was filled with fish.

The Apostle John then realised it who it was calling and said, ‘it is the Lord’.

Peter took off his coat and threw himself into the water to swim ashore as the others followed in the boat. When they were ashore there was a charcoal fire with bread, and Jesus took some fish with the bread and cooked breakfast.

The Apostle John had written his gospel in the first twenty chapters, and it is thought he added this chapter to show once and for all, the reality of the Resurrection.  There have always been people who could not accept the reality, and claimed it was just visions.

All the gospel writers have emphasised this story as the basic fact of Christianity; the tomb was empty, they had seen the scarred body of Jesus, and he was cooking them fish.  John stated there were  153 fish caught, but it has been interpreted as an indication of a large amount of different types of fish.

This story shows the different personalities between John who understands, and Peter who acts. When they got to the tomb on Easter day, it was John first to go into the tomb, although Peter had got there first.  This is an example that the Church is for all kinds of people.  In years past in the Church here in England, there was reluctance to welcome black skinned people, who in turn went and opened their own Churches. 

This was a lost opportunity for it is those people who are truly committed to Christ, and could have been a blessing, but now it is those black Churches which are filling up with people. Indeed, I have been welcomed most warmly by the odd black family in Churches I have visited.   

I find it hypocritical of many people who deny the Resurrection of Jesus. The same people week after week go to services and recite the Creed, which states, ‘I believe…and in Jesus Christ his (God) only Son our Lord, who was conceived of the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead and buried, on the third day he rose again from the dead. 

There you have the two confessed doctrines which people reject, but have no reluctance in professing, the Virgin Birth, and Resurrection. The real physical tangible body, despite liberal disbelief.  Jesus criticised hypocrites.

The fact Jesus was raised was foretold through the Old Testament, and witnessed by people in the New Testament.  Just as the grave could not contain Jesus, and was raised by God, so one day all the followers of our Lord will also be raised.

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