Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the twenty-first and final chapter of the gospel. When you come to this particular portion of scripture you will find the gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ written by the apostle John drawing to a close. As you draw near to this passage you will find that these verses make up the final chapter of the gospel which was written by the apostle John. What you will find when you take the time to truly read and study this final chapter of this gospel is not only Jesus once more appearing unto the disciples, but in that appearing unto them He brought them back to the beginning—to that moment in time when He encountered them at the beginning by the sea as they were mending their nets after laboring and toiling all night and catching nothing. If there is one thing that so captivated and consumes me when reading the words found within this final chapter it’s how after Jesus was raised from death to life, and after Jesus had emerged from the grave He appeared unto the disciples twice over a nine day period of time. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the previous chapter you will find that on the first day of the week—the day when Jesus has risen from the dead and emerged from the grave—He entered into a room where the disciples were gathered together behind closed doors. When Jesus first encounters and when He first experiences the disciples He does not do so in the manner in which we find here in the final chapter of the gospel. When Jesus first appears in the midst of the disciples and manifests Himself unto them He does so while they were all found hiding behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. In the twentieth chapter of this gospel written by the apostle John you will find the disciples undoubtedly still shaken from the events which took place on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, and even at the fact that Jesus the Christ whom they had walked with and followed for nearly four years was crucified upon a cruel Roman tree and died among thieves and robbers. Undoubtedly the disciples were shaken to their very core and to the very depths of their souls knowing that Jesus the Christ had died and was buried in the tomb and the grave. Perhaps most of them were disillusioned and disoriented at the course of events which had taken place. Perhaps there were those among them who faced incredible regret and guilt knowing they had fled the scene of betrayal instead of standing with Christ. Of course we know that this was spoken of and foretold by Jesus earlier on how the shepherd would be stricken and smitten and all the sheep would scatter from His presence. Of course we know that Jesus had declared unto the disciples—not only that one would betray Him, not only that Simon also called peter would deny Him, but also that all would abandon and forsake Him.
Before I get into the events which took place after Jesus had been raised from death to life and had emerged from the grave very much alive I feel it absolutely necessary to point something out at the very outset of this writing. FLEEING FROM THE SCENE! In recent weeks I have received a few alerts on my iPhone regarding hit and runs in the surrounding towns here in Massachusetts. Even in this week which we are presently in I received two alerts concerning drivers who hit pedestrians and who not only struck others, but also who fled the scene. Perhaps the most notable one is when a driver not only ran into and hit four teenagers in a neighboring town, but also had the audacity to flee the scene. A video was released of the scene as it unfolded, and I have to admit that it is absolutely terrifying and frightening to watch what took place and to think that not only could someone hit four innocent pedestrians, but also had the gall and the audacity to not even check if they were okay after throwing them several feet from the impact of the car hitting them. What would have to be in a person’s heart and soul to not only hit a pedestrian, but also to hit one or more individuals and then flee the scene. In that moment is it possible that panic has set in, and perhaps even fear and dread knowing what they had just done? Is it possible that the driver suffers from and experienced such tremendous and utter shock that the only thing which makes sense in their natural minds is to flee the scene? Rather than remain in the scene and deal with and confront it head on, the driver chooses flight and running. I have to admit that I don’t know what would go through my mind if I accidentally hit someone while behind the wheel of the car. In all reality it is an absolutely terrifying thought to even think about—much less actually experience it. Now I realize and recognize you might be wondering what this possibly has to do with what I have written about, and yet when I think about the disciples on the night in which Jesus was betrayed, I can’t help but think of them as fleeing the scene. What’s more, is that not only do I see the disciples fleeing the scene, but I also see them fleeing the scene of betrayal. We know from the gospel accounts that Simon also called peter drew his sword and struck off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest, and might have kept going had Jesus not commanded and instructed him to put down and out away the sword. In that moment and on that night who knows how much damage Simon called peter could have inflicted had Jesus not intervened. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus intervene on this particular night and command Simon called peter to put away the sword, but He also healed the ear of the servant of the high priest. How absolutely wonderful and incredible it is to think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus prevent further damage from being inflicted, but He also took the time to heal the damage which had already been done.
As I sit here this morning I can’t help but be gripped and captivated with and by the fact that on the night in which Jesus was betrayed—not only did the disciples flee the scene, but the disciples also fled the scene of betrayal. It is quite astounding to think about and consider the fact that not only did the disciples flee the scene where Jesus was seized and laid hold of by armed soldiers and officers after Judas had betrayed Him, but they fled the scene of the betrayal as a whole. This is actually quite intriguing when you think about it, for it brings us face to face with the incredible challenge we face when we find ourselves coming face to face with either our own betrayal, or perhaps even the betrayal of another individual. FLEEING THE SCENE OF BETRAYAL! I cannot help but be directly confronted with the fact that it is quite possible to become so disoriented and so disillusioned in the presence of betrayal that rather than stay and associate with the one who was betrayed—even the one who was hurt and wounded—we flee the scene in order to somehow cover and protect ourselves. There are those among us who are unable to handle such intense moments of betrayal and such intense moments of conflict that instead of standing with the party who was wounded and afflicted, we choose to flee and run. Much like the driver I spoke of earlier who fled the scene after striking four teenagers, so also there are men and women who cannot understand the events which take place around them, and instead of remaining behind in support and standing with the party, they instead choose to abandon those who have been hurt, those who have been wounded, and those who have been bruised. It is quite a remarkable and astonishing thought to think about and consider the fact that in the hour of Jesus’ need they chose to flee the scene in order that they might save themselves. In fact, I am convinced the same fear we find in the garden was the same fear we find when the disciples were gathered together behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. I firmly believe with all my heart that the same fear, the same terror, the same feelings of anxiety the disciples faced in the garden were still present within their hearts when they were hiding behind closed doors for fear of the Jews. Is it possible that the disciples felt guilty and felt true and utter remorse for their actions knowing that in the hour of Christ’s greatest need you to that point they had chosen to flee the scene rather than stand with Christ there in the garden? I cannot help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that on the night in which Jesus was betrayed the disciples chose flight instead of fight—and by fight I mean choosing to stay and stand with Christ. On the night in which Jesus was betrayed by one of His companions all the disciples abandoned and forsook Him as they all fled the scene. Oh have you done this throughout the course of your life? Have you fled the scene of betrayal rather than choosing to stand with the one who was betrayed? Have you fled the scene of wounding and bruising simply because you sought to save yourself? Have you fled the scene or hurt and pain simply because you were unable to handle the events which took place before you? In that moment—if you were in the garden with Christ—would you have fled the scene, or would you have chosen to remain behind that you might stand and associate with Christ? It is something quite unique and quite astounding to think about how you would react and how you would respond during and in that moment if you were confronted with and by it.
The more I think about and the more I consider the events which took place in the garden, and the more I think about the disciples fleeing the scene and forsaking Jesus the Christ, I can’t help but be absolutely and incredibly gripped by the fact that the same emotions and the same mindset which was present within the hearts of the disciples on the night in which Jesus was betrayed was still found to be present on the first day of the week when they hid behind closed doors. If you turn and direct your attention to the words which are written and found in the twentieth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John you will find on two separate occasions the disciples present behind closed doors in the wake of Jesus having been betrayed, tried and crucified by the Romans. For three days the body of Jesus the Christ had been buried in a borrowed tomb, and I have to admit that I can’t help but wonder what it was like for the disciples during those three days. What was it like knowing that the One whom you walked with and followed for nearly four years was now crucified and buried in the earth? What was it like knowing that the One you had devoted almost four years of your life to was now dead and buried in the earth and with His physical body being buried, so also have your hopes, your dreams, your aspirations, and perhaps even your faith and confidence being buried with it? What was it like for the disciples as they walked through and experienced those three days knowing that in the hour when Jesus the Christ was betrayed by one of His own, and when He was betrayed in the garden you chose to flee from His presence instead of remaining steadfast and standing with Him? I am sitting here this morning and I can’t help but think about what it must have been like for the disciples during those three days as the lifeless body of Jesus the Christ was buried within the tomb and the grave, and with it all their hope, all their joy, all their comfort, all their faith, all their confidence, and perhaps even their view of how they had spent the previous three and a half years. Oh I can’t help but wonder what their thoughts were concerning and regarding the previous three and a half years knowing the One whom they had walked with and followed was now dead and buried in the grave, for Scripture reveals that they did not yet know the Scriptures, nor that Jesus was ordained and appointed to suffer and to be crucified, and ultimately be buried in the earth before being raised from death to life on the third day. Those three days must have been so incredibly challenging for the disciples on multiple different levels and fronts, for not only did they have to contend with the reality that they chose flight instead of fight, but they also were living in the wake and aftermath of their Lord and Master having been crucified outside Jerusalem by Roman soldiers.
I have to admit that this reality and concept of the disciples during those three days when the lifeless body of Jesus the Christ lie buried in the borrowed tomb absolutely grips and captivates me, for I can’t help but wonder what went through their minds when they knew and understood that Jesus had not only been crucified, but also buried in the borrowed tomb where His body would remain for three days. Scripture makes it perfectly and abundantly clear that they did not yet know the Scriptures, and they did not yet know that it was ordained and appointed for Jesus the Christ to suffer, to die, and to ultimately be buried in the earth for three days before being raised from death to life on the third day. What do you do when you find yourself in the place that you have no context or framework for? What do you do when the hope you once had has been completely and utterly shattered before your very eyes? What do you do when the confidence, the faith, and the trust you once had within your heart and spirit is suddenly removed from your life, and you are now forced to contend with disillusionment, discouragement, and perhaps even a sense of bewilderment and confusion. There is not a doubt in my mind that there was a great deal of confusion present within the hearts and minds of the disciples as I am sure they all had questions regarding the events that had taken place during those days. What’s more, is that I would dare say that the account of the two men whom Jesus met and encountered while traveling on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus shines a particular spotlight on to the heart and mindset of the disciples during those three days when Jesus’ lifeless body lie buried within the tomb and within the grave. If you turn and direct your attention to the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find two men journeying from the city of Jerusalem unto a town called Emmaus, and one of the men bearing the name Cleopas. What so intrigues me about this passage is that not only do we find within their response to Jesus an expression of their confusion and their disillusionment with the events that had taken place, but we also find them expressing those thoughts in the presence of Jesus as they conveyed them directly unto Him. The beloved physician Luke writes and records how Jesus met and encountered these men along the way as they traveled from the city of Jerusalem unto a town called Emmaus, and how Jesus’ sole desire and intention was to redirect them after intercepting them on the road in the opposite direction. In all reality, it might very well be said that these two disciples and followers of Jesus the Christ were traveling and journeying in the wrong direction, and as a direct result of this reality, Jesus not only sought to intercept them, but also sought to redirect them and bring them back to where they belonged. One of the thoughts I can’t help but think about and consider is whether or not these two men were present in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost when Luke writes and records how there were one-hundred and twenty souls found in an upper room when the Holy Spirit came like a mighty rushing wind, and with cloven tongues of fire. With that being said, I am convinced that if we are to have somewhat of an idea of what could very well have gone through the hearts and minds of the disciples during the three days Jesus’ body lie buried in the earth, we need to consider the account of these two men with Jesus. Consider if you will the account of Cleopas and his companion as they journeyed from Jerusalem toward the town called Emmaus as it was written and recorded within the gospel of Luke:
“And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about three score furlongs. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus Himself drew near, and went with them. But their eyes were holden that they should not know Him. And He said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto Him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And He said unto them, What things? And they said unto Him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and have crucified Him. BUT WE TRUSTED THAT IT HAD BEEN HE WHICH SOULD HAVE REDEEMED ISRAEL: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; and when they found not His body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that He was alive. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but Him they saw not. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself. And they drew night unto the village, whither they went: and He made as though He would have gone further. But they constrained Him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And He went in to tarry with them. And it came to pass, as He sat at meat with them, He took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew Him; and He vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while He talked with us by the way, and while He opened to us the scriptures? And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. And they told what things were done in the way, and how He was known of them in breaking of bread. And as they thus spake, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And He said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when He had thus spoken, He shewed them His hands and His feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, He said unto them, Have ye here any meat? And they gave Him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And He took it, and did eat before them” (Luke 24:13-42).
Pausing for a moment I can’t help but read the words found within this passage and not only consider the fact that Jesus encountered these men as they traveled on the road from Jerusalem to a town called Emmaus, but He also walked with them all the way to this town. It’s interesting and worth noting that Jesus didn’t merely meet with them, reveal Himself unto them, instruct and command them to return unto Jerusalem, and then departed from their sight and presence. It’s worth noting that when Jesus the Christ appeared on the road and traveled with them—despite the fact that their eyes were holden from knowing Him—He walked with them the whole way from Jerusalem unto Emmaus. We must recognize and realize that Jesus didn’t walk with them only half way from Jerusalem to Emmaus, nor that Jesus left them once they arrived at Emmaus. I happen to find it absolutely and incredible intriguing and interesting to think about and consider the fact that not only did Jesus encounter these two men as they traveled on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus, but He also walked with them the whole rest of the way to Emmaus. What’s more, is that Jesus actually walked with them and allowed them to arrive at their destination before making as though He would continue journeying and traveling. How absolutely remarkable it is to think that not only did Jesus walk with them as they journeyed and traveled on the road to Emmaus, but Jesus also walked with them to their destination, and allowed them to arrive at the place they intended on traveling to. How astonishing and intriguing it is to think about the fact that even though Jesus intercepted these two disciples and followers as they traveled and journeyed on the road to Emmaus, He didn’t prevent them from continuing to walk along this road. What’s more, is that there is absolutely no indication that Jesus sought to stop these men from reaching their destination, nor did He condemn them for departing from Jerusalem. Even more than this is when you consider the fact that even when Jesus arrived at Emmaus with these two disciples, He didn’t condemn them for making the journey to Emmaus, nor did He instruct and command them to return unto Jerusalem. In fact, all we read of Jesus as He spent time with these two men is how He asked them what manner of communications they were speaking along the way, rebuked them for their unbelief concerning that which was spoken by the prophets, and then opened up unto them the Scriptures and what was spoken concerning Him—how He must suffer, how He must die, how He must be buried, and be raised from death to life before arriving in His glory. Nowhere in the encounter between Jesus and these two men do we find any record of Him instructing—even commanding—them to return unto Jerusalem. In fact, when we finally do find them making the decision to return unto Jerusalem it happened after Jesus had broken bread in their presence, and revealed Himself unto them in the breaking of bread.
It is quite telling that not only did Jesus agree to walk with these disciples and followers as they traveled and journeyed along the road to Emmaus, but he also chose to walk with them in the midst of their confusion, in the midst of their disillusionment, in the midst of their questions, and in the midst their discouragement and doubt. In other words—not only was Jesus willing to walk with them as they traveled alone the road to Emmaus, but he was also willing to walk with them the whole way as they worked through their disillusionment, discouragement, doubt and questions. What’s more, is that there seems to be no indication that these two disciples did anything along the way but listen to the words which Jesus spoke unto them as He opened up and expounded in their hearing the Scriptures concerning Himself and those things which needed to come upon and befall Him. What we find when reading the words written and recorded within this passage of Scripture is two men who were journeying away from the city of Jerusalem after hearing and knowing that Jesus the Christ had been handed over by the chief priests and rulers of Israel to be condemned to death. What’s more, is that even when speaking unto Jesus these two men declared unto Him that certain of their women made them astonished when they came unto them after visiting the tomb early in the morning and seeing a vision of angels, which emphatically declared that Jesus was in fact alive. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that even after hearing the report of these women who not only spoke a report of the stone being rolled away, the tomb being empty, a vision of angels, and angels declaring that Jesus was risen from the grave, these men still journeyed away from Jerusalem, and made their way to Emmaus. It’s quite telling and quite revealing to think that even as these two men journeyed away from Jerusalem Jesus not only encountered them along the way, but Jesus also agreed to walk with them all the way to their destination. We dare not miss and dare not lose sight of this, for although Jesus rebuked them for their unbelief—perhaps even for their hardness of heart—He did not condemn them for walking away from Jerusalem, and for even journeying to the town and village of Emmaus. Nowhere in the account of these men do we find Jesus at all rebuking and condemning them for leaving Jerusalem, nor even for journeying toward Emmaus. Instead, what we find is Jesus walking with them in the midst of their doubt, in the midst of their disillusionment, and in the midst of their confusion and questions, and walking with them the whole way until they reached their destination. It’s almost as if by the time they arrived at their destination they had also reached the end of their confusion, the end of their questions, the end of their disillusionment, and the end of their doubt. Jesus did in fact walk with them the whole way to their destination, Jesus did allow them to reach and come unto their destination, and once at the place of their desire, Jesus revealed and manifested Himself among them in the breaking of bread.
What I so love about the account of Jesus after He was raised from death to life, and after he had emerged from the tomb was that for and over a period of forty days he manifested Himself among the disciples and among those who walked with and followed Him during those three and a half years. If you read the account of these two men who returned from Emmaus unto Jerusalem and declared unto the disciples and those that were with them that they had personally seen and experienced the risen Christ, you will find that while they were yet still speaking Jesus appeared and manifested Himself among them. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus appear and manifest Himself among them in their midst, but Jesus also showed unto them His hands and feet. It might very well be that what we find and read in the twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel written by Luke is indeed an additional glimpse into what we find in the twentieth chapter of the gospel written by John when the disciples were behind closed doors on the first day of the week after Jesus had been raised from death to life. In the twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel written by Luke we find Jesus appearing and manifesting Himself unto those who were behind closed doors—and not only did He appear and manifest Himself unto them, but He also revealed unto them His hands and His feet, as well as His side. In the twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel written by Luke we find Jesus showing unto the disciples His hands and His feet, while in the twentieth chapter of the gospel written by John we find Jesus showing unto the disciples His hands and His side. What’s more, is that not only do we find Jesus showing unto the disciples His hands and His side, but we find Him showing it a second time unto Thomas also called Didymus who was with the disciples eight days later. On the first day of the week Jesus appeared behind closed doors and revealed His hands and His side, while eight days later—unto Thomas specifically—He once more revealed His hands and His side. Oh I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated with and by the fact that Jesus showed His hands, His feet, and even His side, for it was in the breaking of bread He revealed Himself unto the men who traveled on the road to Emmaus, and it was through the presentation of His scars that He further revealed and manifested Himself as being very much alive. Oh that we would encounter the reality of the scars—not only in His hands, and not only in His feet, but also in His side—for it was in the scars the disciples truly encountered Jesus as being truly risen from the grave and very much alive.
When we come to the twentieth chapter of the New Testament gospel of the apostle John we find Jesus appearing unto the disciples once on the first day of the week as they were hiding behind closed doors, and a second time eight days later as they were once again behind closed doors. As we come to the twenty-first and final chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we find Jesus once more appearing unto the disciples—this time, however, He did not appear unto them behind closed doors and in an upper room, but instead by the sea of Tiberias. Upon reading the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John you will find that after Jesus had appeared unto the disciples eight days after He had been risen from the grave, He once more appeared unto them at the sea of Tiberias. What the apostle John writes and reveals concerning this particular occasion is that there at the sea was Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathaniel, James and John, as well as two other disciples. It was there at the sea where Simon declared unto the other disciples that He was going fishing—a statement which was received by the other disciples who joined him. What is quite unique about that which we find written in this passage is that despite the fact that the disciples set out to go fishing, they labored and toiled all night and caught nothing. When the morning had come and they had labored and toiled all night without catching anything, Jesus stood on the shore while not being known by the disciples. There standing upon the shore Jesus asked them if they had any meat. In response to Jesus’ question the disciples declared unto Him that they had nothing—undoubtedly because they had labored all night and had caught nothing. In direct response to the words which they spoke unto Jesus, Jesus instructed them to cast the net on the right side of the ship, and there on the right side of the ship they would find that which they labored and toiled for and could not find. The apostle John writes and records how after they had cast their net on the right side of the ship, they caught such a great catch of fish, and so much so that they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. The apostle John would then go on to write how when the disciple whom Jesus loved witnessed this miraculous catch of fish, he immediately recognized that it was the Lord, and even declared it unto the others. It is absolutely necessary and imperative that we recognize and understand this, for there is not a doubt in my mind that when the apostle John witnessed and beheld that which took place on this particular morning, his mind went back to an earlier event which took place closer to when they first made the decision to walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. If you turn and direct your attention to the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel of Luke you will find a similar event taking place within the lives of the disciples—one that dramatically transformed their lives and compelled them to devote their lives to forsaking all in order that they might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. Consider if you will the words which were written and recorded by the beloved physician Luke beginning with the first verse of the fifth chapter:
“And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon Him to hear the word of God, He stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were asking their nets. And He entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And He sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto Him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they in closed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of wishes which they had taken: and so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men. And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed Him” (Luke 5:1-11).
If there is one thing I absolutely love about what we find and read in the twenty-first chapter of the New Testament gospel of John it’s that after Jesus was raised from death to life, and even after He had appeared unto the disciples twice as they were hiding behind closed doors, He manifested Himself a third time—a third time which was unlike the previous two times they had witnessed and experienced. It was on this third time Jesus appeared and manifested Himself unto the disciples that was quite different form the previous two times He had appeared unto them, for it was on this third time when in appearing unto them He brought them back to the beginning—back to that moment when He had manifested Himself unto them in the midst of the sea in Simon Peter’s ship. It was on this third time Jesus appeared unto and manifested Himself in the midst of the disciples that He brought them back to that moment in time when He had instructed Simon to launch out into the deep and to let down the nets for a great multitude and great catch of fish. After laboring and toiling all night and catching nothing Simon was perhaps a little hesitant and reluctant to do as Jesus had instructed and commanded, yet the beloved physician Luke writes and records how he would comply with Jesus’ instruction and not only launch out into the deep, but also let down the nets. Upon launching out into the deep and letting down the nets—not only did Simon inclose such a great multitude of fishes, but he would also need the help and assistance of the sons of Zebedee who would come with their ship. It was on this particular day early on during the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ when Simon Peter fell down at Jesus’ knees and asking Him to depart from him, for he was a sinful man. There was something that took place on this particular occasion early on during the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ—something that Jesus would seek to bring back to their remembrance this third time He revealed and manifested Himself unto them after rising from the dead. It’s quite interesting to think about and consider the fact that Jesus would not replicate and duplicate this event which took place early on during the time the disciples walked with and followed Him, and would wait until after He had risen from the grave to bring them back to this moment in time when they had made the decision to abandon and forsake all in order to follow Him. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find on this third appearance of Jesus the Christ unto the disciples after rising from the dead was a second invitation given unto them—an invitation to once more abandon and forsake everything in order that they might follow Him. I am completely and utterly convinced that this third appearance and manifestation of Jesus the Christ was not only an invitation to experience Jesus the Christ once more, and not only to reveal Himself as live unto them by manifesting Himself unto them as He had previously done, but also inviting them to walk with and follow Him as they would once more abandon and forsake everything.
The question we must ask ourselves is whether or not we are willing to forsake and abandon everything in order that we might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind that what we find in this third encounter between Jesus and the disciples was not only Jesus reminding the disciples of what had taken place earlier on during His life and ministry, but also an invitation to once more abandon and forsake everything that they might follow and walk with Him once more. This event was designed to invite the disciples to forsake and abandon everything once more, and commit and devote their lives afresh and anew unto Jesus the Christ and the kingdom of heaven. With that being said, I am convinced that even the words which Jesus spoke unto Simon was designed to do the very same thing, for when speaking unto Simon Jesus asked him three different times if he loved him. The first time Jesus asked Simon if he loved Him, he did so by asking if he loved him “more than these,” thus asking Simon if he loved Him more than fishing, more than the fish that were in the net, more than that which before and in front of him. That which Jesus was attempting to drive home to Simon was whether or not he truly loved Jesus the Christ more than that which was before him on this particular day. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus ask Simon if he loved Him, but He asked him three times if he loved Him. Of course to each question Jesus asked Simon he responded by declaring that he did in fact love Jesus. On each instance and on each occasion, Jesus instructed him to feed his lambs and to feed his sheep. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think that the experience in the midst of the sea was intended on bringing the disciples back to an earlier encounter they had with Christ in the midst of the sea when they inclosed such a great catch of fish, and inviting them to once more forsake and abandon everything in order that they might walk with and follow Jesus the Christ. Furthermore, Jesus’ questions asked of Simon—not once, not twice, but three times—were not only intended to fully drive home Simon’s love for the Master, but also to redeem those three times Simon denied Jesus the Christ and denied knowing Him. How absolutely remarkable and astonishing it is to think that in resurrection—not only did Jesus seek to remind the disciples of an earlier encounter with Him when He invited them to forsake and abandon all that they might walk with follow Him, but Jesus also sought to redeem Simon Peter’s denial of knowing and being associated with Him. Oh that we would come face to face with this awesome and incredible reality, and that we would understand that in the resurrection of Jesus—not only do we find Him manifesting Himself as very much alive, but we also find Him redeeming our failures, redeeming our denials, redeeming our times and period of flight, and redeeming our questions, our doubt, our confusion, and the whole array of emotions and thoughts we faced and experienced. A REMINDER OF ENCOUNTER & REDEMPTION OF DENIAL!