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Jesus Continuing Care for His Disciples

(John 21:1-14)

I. Introduction.
A. Orientation.
This morning,
We were reminded of how the Lord
Showed His disciples many more signs
To strengthen their conviction
That He had been raised from the dead
So that their witness might be strengthened.

This evening
We see another one of His appearances
Which certainly qualifies as one of these signs.

B. Preview.
Its interesting to compare
The timing and the circumstances
Of this appearance with His previous ones:

His first and second appearances

Were on the first day of the week
The first time when Thomas was absent;
The second time when he was present.

They first time,
They didnt yet believe He had risen;
The second they did.
Matthew Henry believes
That this second time
They had gathered together to worship
That this had been the start
Of their observing of the Lords Day
The first day of the week,
The day of His resurrection.

If thats true,
Then this third appearance
Wasnt on the Lords Day
Because this time they were fishing not worshiping.
They certainly wouldnt have done this on Saturday
The Old Covenant Sabbath
Since they would likely have been persecuted by the Jews.
It must have taken place sometime during the week.

This also appears to have happened

Before He gave them the Great Commission,
Since after He did,
He commanded them to wait in Jerusalem

Until they received the power of the Spirit.

One final thing to note is what Jesus did at this appearing:

He not only showed Himself to them again
As the One who was raised from the dead,
But He ministered to their needs
As He had throughout His ministry.

So lets look at this account

To see what the Lord has to show us.
II. Sermon.
A. First, we see where Jesus appeared to them: at the Sea of Tiberias.
We read in verse 1, After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the
disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.
Heres another indicator
That John was writing to include a Roman audience:
The Sea of Tiberias was the name
Given by the Romans to the Sea of Galilee.

Realizing that this takes place at the Sea of Galilee,

Its not strange that Peter
And the two sons of Zebedee would be here,
Since this was where they were
When Jesus first called them (Matt. 4:18-22);
Peters house was also in Capernaum (8:14),
Which was located on that sea.

B. Second, we see to whom Jesus revealed Himself.

We read in verse 2, Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of
Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were
There were only seven present at this time, not eleven:
Peter, Thomas, Nathanael, James and John,
And two who are unnamed.

We havent actually seen Nathanaels name

Since chapter 1, when Jesus commented
On his character an Israelite in whom there is no deceit
And on his faith he believed Jesus was the Messiah
Because Jesus had seen him under the fig tree (vv. 47-49).
What had he been doing all this time?

If youll recall,
We saw back in chapter one
That Nathanael is the same as Bartholomew
He was one of the twelve
Bar-tholomew is his family name,
Just as Bar-jona is Peters family name.
It means the son of tholomew or tolmai.
Nathanael is his proper name.
That being the case,

He had been following Jesus
For the past three and a half years.

Notice also who was present this time

That wasnt when Jesus first appeared: Thomas.
The Lord wanted to strengthen his faith,
And Thomas was likely trying to make sure
That he didnt miss out on another appearance as he had before,
And so he was staying close to the other disciples.

Its always disappointing to miss out

On any blessings the Lord sends.
When that happens, we should do our best to make sure
We dont miss out the next time around.

We see here that after Jesus was raised from the dead,
The disciples continued to work together
This shouldnt surprise us,
Since they had spent the last 3.5 years together
Being discipled by Jesus.

Shared experiences tend to bind us together

Especially when working for such a great cause
And they had certainly shared a great deal together.
Our Lord intends this as an example

And an encouragement for us to do the same:
Theres no better way to grow together as a family
That laboring together for His cause.

Jesus also chose to reveal Himself

At a time when they were together
Certainly its because He approved of their fellowship,
But it was also because
He wanted them to be witnesses to the same event
To corroborate each others testimony.

The fact that there were seven disciples present

Also shows that Jesus was providing evidence
That the Romans would accept:
Roman law required seven witnesses
To establish the truth of certain events.

C. Third, we see the circumstances under which Jesus revealed Himself: while they
were fishing.
We read in verse 3, Simon Peter said to them, I am going fishing. They said to
him, We will also come with you. They went out and got into the boat; and
that night they caught nothing.
Maybe they went fishing
Because they had nothing else to do
And they didnt want to be idle.
Its never good to have nothing to do

Thats when the enemys attacks
Are usually the strongest.

Or maybe they needed to go fishing to meet their needs.

Its likely that while Jesus was with them,
His followers were providing their needs.
Now that Jesus had died and was raised,
They had to go back to meeting them on their own.

Was this a sin?

Was there something else they should have been doing?
When Jesus appears, He doesnt rebuke them.
Remember, He hadnt yet commissioned them.
Just before He ascends, He will tell them
That they will still need to wait
For the promise of the Father
The outpouring of His Spirit
Before they begin.

We should never do anything

Without Jesus commission and His power.

But they had fished all night and caught nothing

Which shows us that its possible to work hard,

And still get nothing for our trouble
Thats often the way it is in this world.

But its also the way

The Lord often prepares us
To receive His coming in blessing,
So that when He comes,
We can see Him.

D. Fourth, we see how Jesus revealed Himself.

He came to them in the morning,
After a fruitless nights work:
We read in verse 4, But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the
beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.
Matthew Henry writes, Christs time of making himself known to his people is
when they are most at a loss. When they think they have lost themselves, he will
let them know that they have not lost him. Weeping may endure for a night; but
joy comes, if Christ comes, in the morning.
This can be encouraging to us,
If we have worked long and hard,
And havent seen the Lord bless our work.
Just at the time were ready to give up,
The Lord comes with His blessing.

Jesus didnt come to them this time

Walking on the water,
But He stood on the shore,

Since they were coming to Him.

And notice, He didnt just tell them who He was,

But revealed Himself gradually:
He was close enough so He could be seen,
But far enough away that they couldnt recognize Him
About 100 yards.
They apparently werent expecting to see Him.
Sometimes He draws near to us,
But we dont see Him
Because were not looking for Him.

The way He chose to reveal Himself was through an act of mercy.

We read in verse 5, So Jesus said to them, Children, you do not have any fish, do
you? They answered Him, No.

Notice how He spoke to them: with the tenderness of a father.

He called them children.
Even though His humiliation had ended,
And His exaltation had begun,
He still spoke to them with as much kindness and love
As He had before.
He still loves and cares for us
Though He is the King of all Creation.

Jesus knew they hadnt caught anything.
The way He asked the question
Expects no for the answer.
But He hadnt asked for His benefit
When the disciples finally arrive at shore,
They will see Jesus already had fish prepared
He had asked for theirs
Whether they had what they needed.
If not, He was ready to meet that need.

Jesus not only takes care of our spiritual needs,

But our physical needs as well.
If we dont have what we need,
We may ask Him,
And He will provide.

Since He is our example,

We should also learn from this to be concerned
About the needs of those around us
With a concern that goes beyond just well wishing.
Solomon writes, One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, and He
will repay him for his good deed (Prov. 19:17).

They answered Him, No.

We dont have any fish.

Perhaps they were frustrated
By the fact they had worked all night
And had caught nothing.

Jesus didnt ask because He didnt know,

But because He wanted them to acknowledge their need
Before He acted to meet that need.

In the same way,

The Lord would have us
To acknowledge our need of Him,
Before He will come to meet our needs.
Dont suffer in silence:
Call out to the Lord.

Then Jesus revealed Himself through a miracle.

We read in verse 6, And He said to them, Cast the net on the right-hand side of
the boat and you will find a catch. So they cast, and then they were not able to
haul it in because of the great number of fish.
He gave them a command and a promise:
Do as I say,
And you will find.
Jesus could make this guarantee
Because He controls the fish of the sea,
As well as everything else.

And they obeyed:
Not even knowing who had commanded and promised.
Perhaps they were so frustrated,
They were willing to take anyones advice.

And when they obeyed,

Jesus did as He promised.
When you submit to Jesus
And do what He commands,
He will bless you;
Even if the blessing is a long time in coming,
If you continue to sow, in due time you will reap (Gal. 6:9).

This was another miracle, another sign

That was meant to show them
Who was speaking to them:
Jesus was alive,
And all authority has been given to Him.

This was also an act of mercy to them:

Jesus not only appeared to them again,
He provided for their needs
He gave them more than they needed.
Jesus said if we would give up everything to follow Him,
He would take care of us


And He will.

Perhaps this was also a picture

Of what the Lord was about to do through them:
When they had fished for souls before
They had had very little success;
But now they were on the eve of a great revival
That would bring thousands of souls to Jesus.

Here is another encouragement

To keep persevering in the work Jesus has given us,
And to continue to wait on Him for His blessing.

E. Fifth, we see how the disciples received His appearance.

We read in verses 7-8, Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It
is the Lord. So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer
garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea. But the
other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about
one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish.

John was the first to realize who He was:

He seems to have been the most intelligent and perceptive.
Its also possible that because he stuck closer
To Jesus through His trials than the rest
He was the only disciple at the crucifixion
Jesus revealed Himself to him first.

When John saw it was Him,
He said to Peter: It is the Lord.

He specifically told Peter,

Knowing he would rejoice more than the rest
Peter had already seen the risen Lord,
And had received His mercy and forgiveness.

John was quicker to see Jesus,

But Peter was more zealous to be with Him:
As soon as he realized Jesus was near,
He couldnt wait for the boat to reach the shore
He immediately jumped into the water and began to swim.

Of course, he didnt want to meet Jesus in his loin cloth;

So before he jumped into the water,
He put his outer garment on,
Though that would make it harder to swim.

The rest of the disciples didnt jump in,

But began to make their way to shore
With the fish Jesus had just provided.

If they had all jumped in and swam to shore,

What would have happened to their fish?
And if Peter had stayed on the boat,


Would Jesus have been as pleased with Him?

We may all have different ways

Of showing Jesus that we love Him,
But He will accept us, if we do.

F. Sixth, we see what the Lord did for them after they came ashore.
We read in verse 9, So when they got out on the land, they saw a charcoal fire
already laid and fish placed on it, and bread.

He had prepared a meal for them.

When they arrived,
They found a warm fire,
And fish and bread.
Jesus knows what we need,
And He will provide it.

He also asked for some of what they had caught,

And they gave it to Him.
We see in verses 10-11, Jesus said to them, Bring some of the fish which you
have now caught. Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish,
a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Jesus didnt need their fish

He had already shown them that
By what He had provided for them.
But He wanted them to eat


What they had caught

The fruit of their own labor
That God had blessed them with,
According to what the Psalmist says in Psalm 128:1-2, How blessed is everyone
who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of
your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you.

Jesus also wanted to show them

What was in store for them in His kingdom:
He would eat with them,
And they with Him (Luke 22:29-30).

And they obeyed:

There werent able to haul the net into the boat,
But Peter went out and dragged the net to shore
Again, he was the first to obey.

They counted the fish, and there were 153.

Maybe they did this because they intended to divide them.
Regardless, there was more than they needed;
And they could sell them;
And this would provide the money they needed
To return to Jerusalem,
Which they would shortly do after Jesus ascended.
Here was another example of Jesus care and provision.


G. Finally, we see Jesus invite them to breakfast.

We read in verses 12 and 13, Jesus said to them, Come and have breakfast.
None of the disciples ventured to question Him, Who are You? knowing that it
was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and the fish

Jesus treated them as His friends.

Again, as weve seen in the past,
He didnt ask them to wait on Him,
He waited on them.
This again reminds us
That when God gives gifts or authority
He doesnt intend them to be used
To lord it over others:
But to serve others.

He made the angels greater in might and power

Because they were to be the servants
Of those who will inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14).
The husband is given authority over his wife
Not to command her, but to care for her (Eph. 5:25).
The Lord Himself became man,
Not to be served, but to serve,
That we might be saved.
We need to follow His example.


And the fact that He shared this meal with them

Was simply one more way He demonstrated
That He was no mere spirit
He had risen bodily from the dead.
Peter will later use this event as evidence
Of this very thing (Acts 10:41).

John concludes, This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the
disciples, after He was raised from the dead (v. 14).

This was the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples
While they were together,
To confirm that He was risen,
And to strengthen their conviction
For the work that was ahead of them.
This serves also to prove the same to us,
And we are to use this eyewitness account
To demonstrate to others that Jesus is alive,
And that He cares for all who will take hold of Him by faith.