Jesus Appears on the Shore

Key Verse: “Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.”
—John 21:12

Selected Scripture:
John 21:1-14

THE SETTING FOR TODAY’S lesson is the third appearance of Jesus to his disciples as a group after his resurrection. (John 21:14) Thomas had not been present when Jesus first appeared to the eleven on Sunday evening of his resurrection. (John 20:19-24) The other disciples told Thomas when he returned, “We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Eight days later Jesus appeared again in their midst, with Thomas present. The Lord said to him, “Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.” Thomas was then convinced that Jesus was indeed alive.—vss. 25-28

On the night of his arrest Jesus had told the eleven, “Tonight all of you will desert me. For the Scriptures say, God will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. But after I have been raised from the dead, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and meet you there.” (Matt. 26:31,32, New Living Translation) As weeks passed the excitement of seeing Jesus alive began to fade. Jesus’ words became a reality, and his disciples began to be scattered. Because of his years and natural leadership, Peter was the first to suggest a return to their former life. “I’m going out to fish, Simon Peter told them, and they said, We’ll go with you.”—John 21:3, New International Version

We can imagine the disciples’ recollection of Jesus’ call to them, when he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:19) For more than three years they had followed the one they believed to be the Messiah, but now they were grieved and perplexed as they reentered the fishing business. Their first night’s experience was calculated to be a disappointment. They fished through the night and caught nothing. As morning dawned and they approached the shore, they heard a voice asking “Children, have ye any meat?” (John 21:5) Since the answer was “no,” the stranger said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.”—vs. 6

It was the loving John who first realized this was a miracle and said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” Being a man of action and doubtless still suffering at heart from his denial of the Lord, Peter immediately plunged into the sea and swam to shore. The other disciples followed in a little ship dragging the net of fish. There they noticed a fire of coals with fish and bread laid on it.—vss. 7-9

Today’s Key Verse points out that all the disciples then realized this was Jesus, though he had appeared in yet another form than his earlier manifestations. He thus proved he was alive as a spirit being, and he exhorted his disciples to return to the business of being fishers of men. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”—Matt. 28:19,20, English Standard Version