But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.
Have you ever noticed that the most difficult time to serve the Lord is immediately after a defeat in your life? When we are on a spiritual high, serving the Lord comes almost naturally. But when we experience the roller-coaster ride to the depths of despair after some spiritual tragedy, we have a tendency to become complacent. While activity tends to produce additional activity, inactivity also reproduces itself.
The popularity of Jesus Christ had been building throughout His earthly ministry. Thousands of people followed Him through the hills of Galilee, watching His miracles and listening to His teachings. The disciples had become an intimate group, well known for their association with Jesus. As His popularity grew, so did their own.
The culmination of their intimate relationship with the Lord came the night of His betrayal. He had gathered the disciples in the upper room to keep the Passover. They were all there. They ate with the Lord, prayed with Him, sang hymns with Him, pledged their loyalty to Him. Around this meal, the institution of the Lord's supper, the disciples reached a spiritual high. Their heightened spirits, however, were soon to be dashed. Jesus was led away from the garden, He endured a cruel and illegal trial, and the disciples were dispersed. Even though Jesus again and again had told them that He must suffer the cruelty of the cross, the disciples still did not assimilate this tenet of His teaching. With His death and burial the disciples' balloon had burst. Even the resurrection of the Lord and the immediate post-resurrection appearances did not do much to reassure the disciples.
As instructed by the Lord Himself, the disciples returned to Galilee. Their meeting with Jesus on the mountain of Galilee, where He had appointed them, must have been subsequent to the account of our Scripture for today. Seven of the apostles had returned to their vocation as fishermen. How easy it was to be a follower of the Lord when He was present; how easy it was to return to their occupation in His absence. It was Peter who first suggested that he would go fishing. This does not necessarily imply that he intended to renounce his apostleship in favor of the fishing trade. This is what he knew best; this is what he would do until the Lord commanded him otherwise. Hence Peter and the others entered into a ship and fished all night, but caught nothing. How could this be? Had they lost the knack of fishing during their years with the Messiah? Why were they so unsuccessful at a business in which they had been extremely successful before Jesus called them to discipleship? Throughout the night they fished without any success at all.
"But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore" (John 21:4). For some providential reason the disciples did not recognize the stranger standing on the shore. As He called to them and inquired how successful they had been, they had to answer that they were extremely unsuccessful in fishing that night. It was the resurrected Lord, keeping His rendezvous with them in Galilee. But they did not recognize this until He commanded them to cast their nets on the other side of the ship. This was reminiscent of a similar but earlier command of the Lord with the same result (Luke 5:1-11). When the disciples had hauled in an incredible number of fish, they came to the shore at Jesus' invitation to "Come and dine" (John 21:12). It was almost as if the Lord was reigniting the fire of intimacy and love that had cooled since their last supper together. Jesus Christ did not want His disciple band to become complacent, for complacency is kin to disobedience.
After we have once served the Lord well and lived in intimate relationship with Him, it is easy to become complacent, to drift from Him and not to sit at His table. However, the Lord calls to each of us to "come and dine"; and if we are to be an effective and useful tool in the Master's hand, we must find our feet under His table frequently.
MORNING HYMN Revive us again fill each heart with Thy love; May each soul be rekindled with fire from above. Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Hallelujah, amen! Hallelujah, Thine the glory! Revive us again.
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