Let us pray: Dear Savior, when You look upon us, Your view is colored by grace. It is colored by the fact that You forgave us our sins on the cross and then rose from the dead to instill in us confidence, joy, and thankfulness. Since You have put Your love into our hearts and made it our possession through faith, cause us to always see both You and Your work in our lives through similar eyes of love and thankfulness. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST OUR LOVING LORD AND SAVIOR!
TEXT: John 21: 1-14
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
I’m not sure I’ve ever preached on this particular lesson. If I have, it was many years ago. I suppose the reason for my overlooking this text is that it has always seemed kind of cut-and-dried. Outside the disciples’ lack of recognition for the risen Lord and the miracle of fishes, nothing very intriguing leaped out at me—until now. After a close examination of these words of the Apostle John an amazing truth came to me. It is this:
ONLY THE EYES OF LOVE TRULY SEE CHRIST!
We know that after His resurrection Jesus appeared to His disciples on two separate occasions in the Upper Room. He comforted them and confirmed His victory to them. And then, He disappeared. Following His instructions to “Go to Galilee” and await Him there, the bulk of the disciples (7 in number) head north. Since they realize that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop” they don’t just lay around waiting for Him by doing nothing. No, Peter takes the lead and says: “I’m going out to fish” to which the others reply: “We’ll go with you.” No doubt, they figured that they would use this time to help support their families, since fishing was their profession. “So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.”
Now, this is a reminder to them and to us of Christ’s words in John 15: “I am the vine and you are the branches, he who abides in me and I in him will bear much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Yes, without Christ’s presence in their lives nothing meant “no fish” in this instance. So, right here, Jesus is reminding them that when they go out to catch people’s hearts in the coming years, they will always need to remain, abide, and keep themselves glued to Him. For He alone will give any increase and blessing. And it is the same for us today.
“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.” After His resurrection Jesus was “not of this world” any longer. He had picked up the full cloak of His almighty power and thus did not appear to human eyes as the suffering servant any longer. “He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’”
Most of the time the NIV translation which we use is very good, but not here. The word translated “friends” is actually a word meaning: “little children.” It is a term used by superiors toward their inferiors. Now, this is obviously true. For Jesus in His resurrected power is certainly superior to the disciples. But, since they don’t recognize Him, they are a little peeved at these words, thus their rather curt reply: “No.”
But, our loving Lord knows all this, and overlooks their short outburst of pride. He says to them, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.”
As almighty God, Jesus knew the fish were there because He put them there. He did so not just to insure a meal for them later that morning, or to help support their families, but to show that His power and love were directed at them. They were His beloved family, the family of faith, and He wanted to take care of them. Also, He wanted to reveal Himself to them in a glorious fashion.—And what better way to do so than through a miracle?
“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’” Jesus loved John and John was especially close to Christ. It is he who recognizes his Savior first. And from this confession born of love comes recognition by the rest, including Peter who jumps out of the boat and swims to shore. Only the eyes of love truly see Christ! Love recognizes love. John possessed Godly love because Christ had put it into his heart through faith and had also shown that love right here via the miracle. That love ached to be with Christ and to see Him. It ached to honor Him because He had honored John, the other six, and all sinners by sacrificing His life for theirs and ours on the cross.
The rest is history, or “His story” if you will. They come ashore, haul the net in, and it contains a huge catch of 153 fish of all sorts and sizes. Then Jesus eats with them to solidify His love and fellowship with them and also to show that He wasn’t a ghost, but real, alive, and resurrected.
John adds this to his account: “None of the disciples dared ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord.” Those little words inform us that Christ now had a glorious, transformed body untainted by the human sin that He chose to bear on the cross. It tells us that He truly was “other-worldly” and still is to this very day. But, in addition, they tell us that the eyes of faithful love don’t doubt or fail to see Him. No, the eyes of love truly do both see and recognize the Lord!
What does this little lesson mean to us today? It means that Christians who are filled by God’s love for them in Christ will both look for and then see their Savior’s loving hand active in their lives. We will see that love outstretched to us when fellow believers patiently offer Godly advice. We will see that love when we learn to put the best construction on what our fellow Christians say and do. We will see that love when we view the “downs” of life as opportunities for new blessings instead of getting angry with God or blaming Him for them. You know, I looked at a few different sermons written by others on this text. One of them said this: “Many people look at life simply as a dog-eat-dog existence. Life to them is simply a matter of the survival of the fittest. Christians count God in the equation of living. That makes all the difference in the world.” And then they go on to quote Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” And also Romans 8:31: “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
Faith-filled believers are totally different in their attitude than any other group of people on this planet. We’re the most positive, kind, caring, and sharing group of humans there are. And the reason for that is we view other people with eyes colored by love—just as Christ views us that same way. Jesus once said: “Whatever you do the least of these my brothers, you do unto Me.” Yes, only the eyes of love truly see Christ! May Christ’s boundless love for you cause You to see Him active and alive in your life! And since He’s a blessing for You—all the time—thereby you will be a blessing to all others! Amen