HIS SERVANTS' MINISTRY
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Commentary On The Book of John
The Gospel of John Chapter 21
I will do the Gospel of John Commentary similar to my other Commentaries . . . in that I will bring the verse or verses in the KJV, followed by what it is saying to me. What I write will be a personal comment, it is NOT Scripture.
Jesus Appears Again to His Disciples
John does not tell us why the disciples are back in Galilee, but in fact Jesus had told them to return there, where He would meet them (Mk.14:28; 16:7). They seem to have been sitting around, not sure of what to do, until Peter decides to go fishing and the others come along. Some think they went fishing simply because they needed to eat. They were not aimless and certainly not apostate, but were doing what was right in their own eyes. The stories in this chapter reveal Jesus' bringing His disciples, especially Peter, more completely under His Lordship. The disciples do not know what to do, so they do only that which is necessary, and in going fishing, was in a place where Christ would meet them. Any time that we are not sure what to do, we should simply do our duty and God will guide.
That night of fishing, they catch nothing, a striking portrayal of barrenness. They did what they thought was the right thing, but utter failure is the result. This prepares them to learn one of the vital lessons of discipleship . . . without Jesus, they can do nothing (Jn.15:5), and neither can we! Jesus has taught this lesson before, for never in the Gospels do the apostles catch a fish without Jesus' help! But they need the lesson repeated, as we SO often do as well.
Things change early in the morning, maybe symbolizing the dawning of spiritual light. They see Jesus simply standing there (Jn.20:14,19,26; 21:4). And as before, they are not able to recognize Him at first, because there was something different about Jesus' Body. The apostles admit they have failed at fishing, and Jesus tells them, Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some. He actually gives a Promise that in fact they will find fish where He directs them to cast. When they obey they cannot even get the net into the boat because there are so many fish. This abundance echoes the enormous provision of wine at the wedding in Cana (Jn.2:1-11), and of bread and fish at the feeding of the five thousand (Jn.6:1-13). These fish may be a symbol of the missionary work of the apostles, similar to Jesus' original call, "Come, follow me . . . and I will make you fishers of men" (Mat.4:19; Mk.1:17), not told to us by John. I really think the main point seems to be Jesus' Lordship and the need to be obedient to Him for ANY labor to be fruitful.
It is the beloved disciple (John) who is able to recognize the identity of the stranger on the shore. If Peter had been the one to recognize Jesus, I think that he would have thrown himself into the sea right away. When John recognizes Jesus, he speaks specifically to Peter, therefore continuing the pattern throughout the resurrection narratives of the close relationship between these two apostles, Peter and John.
The first one to speak is Jesus, and He tells them to bring some of the fish they have caught (verse 10). For the second time in this story Jesus gives them a command. Although Jesus speaks to all the apostles, it is Peter who brings the catch ashore, apparently by himself. Peter's zeal to come to Jesus is now matched by his zeal to obey Him.
After inviting them to come and eat, He Himself comes to the fire. He took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This description echoes His action at the feeding of the five thousand (Jn.6:11) and provides the climax of this story. It answers their hidden questions . . . Jesus is recognized in His breaking of the bread (Lk.24:30-31). The Master Who commands them also serves them, continuing a theme found throughout His ministry (Jn.13:5,13).
John’s story has focused on Jesus' love and Lordship, now we will see Jesus' love and Lordship in action in their lives specifically. Jesus' inviting His apostles to share a meal indicates His love and fellowship with them. But He has unfinished business with Peter, the one who denied Him in a special way. After breakfast Jesus speaks to Peter. Throughout this story Peter has been referred to as Simon Peter or simply as Peter, the name Jesus had given him, but now Jesus calls him by his former name, Simon son of John, as if he were no longer, or not yet an apostle.
There are three incidents in this chapter. There is the fishing experience on the Sea of Galilee. It shows the Lord Jesus as the Lord of our wills, and that He directs our service. The second incident is the breakfast on the seashore. This shows the Lord Jesus as the Lord of our hearts and presents our love for Him as the motive for our serving Him. The third incident is Jesus announcing the death of Simon Peter. It shows the Lord Jesus as the Lord of our minds and teaches that lack of knowledge or variation of circumstance is absolutely NO excuse not to serve Him. The entire chapter reveals very clearly that the resurrected Jesus is still God.
Lord Of Our Wills -- Directs Our Service (John 21:1-11)
John 21:1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. (KJV)
After these things . . . the resurrection of Christ from the dead, His appearance to Mary Magdalene, and twice to His apostles; once when Thomas was absent, and at another time when he was present.
Jesus showed himself again to the disciples . . . a third time, as in (Jn.21:14), although not to them all, for only seven are mentioned, as together, when he appeared to them. :
At the sea of Tiberias . . . is also called the Sea of Galilee, being situated in Galilee (Mat.4:18). It was in this place that Jesus had promised to meet them (Mat.26:32; 28:10; Mk.14:28; 16:7). This interview of Jesus is just mentioned by Matthew (Mat.28:16), and is omitted by both Mark and Luke. This is possibly why John states so particularly what happened there. Galilee was a place where they would be free from danger, and was a safe and convenient place for Jesus to meet them, in order to give them His last instructions.
And on this way showed he himself . . . how He did this, follows.
John 21:2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. (KJV)
There were together . . . in one place, in one house, in some town of Galilee, not far from the sea of Tiberias.
And Thomas, called Didymus . . . who for a while was an unbeliever as to the resurrection of Christ, was now fully assured of it, and was unwilling to lose any opportunity of meeting with his risen Lord.
And Nathanael of Cana in Galilee . . . an Israelite indeed, in whom there was no guile (Jn.1:47).
And the sons of Zebedee . . . this was James, whom Herod killed with the sword (Acts 12:2), and John, the writer of this Gospel.
And two other of his disciples . . . this is thought to be Andrew and Philip; which is very likely, since they were both of Bethsaida (Jn.1:44), a city in Galilee, and not far from the sea of Tiberias. These seven were there before the rest; or else they lodged together, or near one another; so as these only are mentioned here as being together at this time, and were witnesses of this miracle which followed.
John 21:3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. (KJV)
Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing . . . fishing was his business before his conversion, and now having nothing to do, decided to go fishing.
They say unto him, we also go with thee . . . the other six decide to go with Peter.
They went forth . . . from the house, or where ever they were.
And entered into a ship immediately . . . which was either one of their own, that belonged to one of them before their call (Lk.5:3), or which they hired.
And that night they caught nothing . . . they went out in the evening and fished all night, but caught no fish, or very little. So too it is at times with Gospel ministers, who are fishers of men, although they take every opportunity, and the every proper method to gain souls to Christ, yet sometimes they do not succeed.
John 21:4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. (KJV)
But when the morning was now come . . . as the day began to dawn, very early in the morning, for Christ visits His own bright and early, and is a present help to them in their time of trouble (Ps.46:1).
Jesus stood on the shore . . . on firm ground, while His apostles were toiling about in the waves, with no success.
But the disciples knew not that it was Jesus . . . although He was close enough for them to hear Him, they did not know Him. Sadly, so it is that Christ is sometimes near His people today, but they know it not.
John 21:5 Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. (KJV)
Then Jesus saith unto them, Children . . . they still did not know Him! As often as he had spoken to them and used this endearing and familiar title, they still did not recognize Him.
Have ye any meat? . . . He was asking if they had caught a sufficient quantity to make a meal of for Him and them.
They answered him no . . . nothing at all; or far from enough to make breakfast.
John 21:6 And he said unto 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. (KJV)
And he said unto them . . . our Lord would make Himself known to them now by a miracle, since they did not know Him by sight or by His Voice.
Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find . . . Jesus did not say “Try the right side, maybe you will have better luck.” He is making them a Promise! “Do as I say and you shall find many fish.” The ship was a symbol of the church in its present afflicted state. The right side symbolizes the elect, and where they are to be found in this world. The casting of the net means the preaching of the Gospel. The promise of finding fish is the assurance Christ gives of the success of His Word, which He owns and blesses for the conversion of repentant sinners. Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. (KJV)
They cast therefore . . . they obeyed His orders and directions, as the faithful ministers of the Gospel do, and should, and they succeeded.
And now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes . . . the whole thought here is that He guides and directs the lives of His own. He gives us instructions daily, IF we are wise enough to pay attention to Him. And when we receive these instructions, they are to be obeyed. When they fished their way, they did not succeed, but when they fish according to His instruction, the net fills to capacity. Notice the net does not break, even though it is full. The net is strong . . . as strong as the Gospel of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, of which they are witnesses.
John 21:7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. (KJV)
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved . . . meaning John the apostle, the writer of this Gospel: Disciple whom Jesus loved: (Jn.13:23; 19 ;26; 20:2; 21:7,20). John’s humility does not allow him to bring honor and glory on himself.
Saith unto Peter, it is the Lord . . . John and Peter were very close with each other, and communicated their thoughts freely to one another. John knew that it was the Lord, either by some special revelation, or from the multitude of fishes which were taken, and which showed a divine hand and power. So faithful ministers of the Gospel know when Christ is with them, by his power attending their ministrations to the conversion of souls.
Now when Simon heard that it was the Lord . . . faith came by hearing (Rom.10:17), he was immediately convinced and totally satisfied, having seen the astounding capture of the fishes, that it must be the Lord.
He girt his fisher's coat unto him . . . supposedly this was a garment, which a man put on next his flesh to dry up the sweat; and a very proper one for Peter, who had been toiling all night.
And did cast himself into the sea . . . some versions add: "that he might come to Christ" or "and he came to Christ" . . . showing his great love and eagerness to be with Christ; and as having no fear of danger, risks all to be with Christ. His love being such, that many waters could not quench, nor floods drown (Song 8:7).
John 21:8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. (KJV)
And the other disciples came in a little ship . . . they did not dive into the sea but stayed in the ship with the net full of fish.
For they were not far from land, but, as it were, two hundred cubits . . . which was about a hundred yards.
Dragging the net with fishes . . . towing the net full of fishes until they came to land. A symbol of hard working Gospel ministers, who being once go on board in the work of the ministry, continue in it to the end, in spite of all toil, labor, and difficulties that go along with them.
John 21:9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. (KJV)
As soon then as they were come to land . . . as soon as they came out of the ship and got on land.
They saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid there . . . on the shore, to their great surprise, which could not be any fish that they had taken, for, as yet, the net was not taken up, and the fish taken out.
And bread . . . not upon the coals baking, but already prepared to eat with the fish. This was all of Christ's preparing, and a significant proof of His deity; confirming that provision will be made for His ministering servants, while they are about His work, and in this world. It represents spiritual and eternal refreshment they shall have with Him in Heaven through all eternity, when they have finished their work. Mat. 4:3 And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. (KJV) . . . Jesus was certainly well able to make stones into bread IF He had so wanted to do.
John 21:10 Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. (KJV)
Jesus saith unto them . . . the apostles.
Bring of the fish which ye have now caught . . . they were they told to bring what they had taken, to add to the ones Christ had already prepared for them on the fire. By bringing the unbroken net full of fish to shore, may be a symbol of the bringing of souls to Christ by the ministry of the Word, thus adding to those that are already gathered.
John 21:11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. (KJV)
Simon Peter went up . . . to the ship which was by the shore: he went aboard it, and . . .
Drew the net to land full of great fishes . . . I am sure that Peter was not alone, but others of went with him; though only he is mentioned, being the leading person in this affair; a symbol of the whole number of God's elect being brought safe to shore, to Christ, and to Heaven, through various tribulations and afflictions in the world, correctly indicated by the waves of the sea.
An hundred and fifty and three . . . what mystery, if any, there may be in the number 153, I do not know. And for all there were so many . . . in number, and these very large, and the weight of them so great. The ideas of number and weight are to be kept in mind, to make what follows the more noticeable.
Yet was not the net broken . . . which must be credited to the divine power of Christ Jesus, and it is a symbol of the power of God being present in the Gospel to the regeneration, conversion and salvation of His people, and of the great value of it, however appalling and despicable it may be in the eyes of men, and of its permanence and duration, until all the elect of God are gathered in by it.
Christ Jesus Is The Love Of Our Hearts . . . Motive For Service (John 21:12-17)
John 21:12 Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. (KJV)
Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine . . . eating a morning's meal, may be a symbol of the spiritual refreshment believers enjoy with Christ in His house, and of the everlasting pleasures they will partake with Him in the resurrection morning, when we are changed (1 Cor.15:51-52). Jesus does not say: “Go and dine,” but “Come and dine,” meaning WITH Him! He does not send his disciples some where else for food, but invites them to come to Him, where plenty of provision is made, and too, to feed upon Himself, for all are heartily welcome. Bread of life: (Jn.6:33,35,41,50,51).
And none of the disciples durst ask him, who art thou? . . . they knew that it was the Lord, and to ask such a question was unnecessary, and would have been disrespectful. Durst ask him . . . ever since the confession of Thomas, an accurate awe of the Deity of Christ had possessed their minds. Christ no doubt ate with them to prove that He was alive and real and that resurrected people can still eat (Lk.24:42-43). Even God and angels eat (Gen.ch.18).
John 21:13 Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. (KJV)
Jesus then cometh and taketh bread . . . after they had taken the fish out of the net, and all was prepared for the meal, and the apostles were set down to eat, Christ came and took His rightful place as the Master of the feast, and Head of the family. He took up the bread, as was His usual method, He asked a blessing over it, and gave thanks for it.
And giveth them, and fish likewise . . . He then distributed both bread and fish to His apostles. In a spiritual sense, He provides bountifully for His people; gives them to eat of the hidden manna (Rev.2:17), and tree of life (Rev.22:2,14), and leads to fountains of living waters (Rev.7:17); and encourages them to eat and drink freely, of what He has prepared, and at His own expense provided for them.
John 21:14 This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. (KJV)
This is now the third time . . . He appeared to them first on the same day that He rose, a second time eight days after, or that day a week later, and now at the sea of Tiberias. Within this compass of time He had made more appearances than three, but to particular persons, and not to such a number of the apostles.
That Jesus showed himself to his disciples after that he was risen from the dead . . . as by the mouth of two or three witnesses, everything is established; so by these three principal appearances of Christ to His apostles, His resurrection from the dead was confirmed.
John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. (KJV)
So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter . . . Jesus did not interrupt them while they were eating; but when they had refreshed themselves, He looked at Peter, singling him out from the rest, and spoke directly to him.
Simon, son of Jonas . . . some have thought, that since Christ spoke to him particularly by his original name, and not by the name which He Himself had given him, (looking forward to his strong faith), as Cephas, or Peter. But it should be known that Christ calls him by this name of Simon Barjonah, when Peter had made his marvelous profession of his faith in Him, and was pronounced blessed by Him (Mat.16:16-18).
Lovest thou me more than these . . . the question was, did Peter love Christ more than the other disciples loved Him. The reason for the question was, that Jesus had stated, though all the disciples were offended at Christ, and should deny Him, Peter said he would NOT be offended (Mat.26:31-34). But, he was offended, and he was so frightened that he denied the Lord Jesus (Mat.26:34), even though he said he would not (Mat.26:33,35). But, that is all behind now! Isn’t our Lord good? He forgives His people! How wonderful that is! Peter is full to the brim with love for his Master! He just now had thrown himself into the sea to come to Jesus first, seemingly showing that he did love Jesus more than the others did. The question of Jesus is really, how much did Peter love the Lord?
He saith unto him, yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee . . . Peter loved the Lord not only in word of mouth, but in deed and in truth; in sincerity, and without hypocrisy, fervently and incomparably. Peter was sure that he loved Christ from deep in his heart, but whether he loved Him more than the others did, he did not say.
He saith unto him, Feed my lambs . . . lambs are the younger and more tender ones of the flock, Christ's little children, newborn babes, which are not to be despised, and too weak believers. Christ has an interest in, and therefore calls them "my lambs" for they were given to Him by His Father, and purchased by His Blood. The Lord has a tender concern and affection for them. My lambs . . . the church is often compared to a flock (Jn.10:1-16). Feed my lambs: (Isa.40:11; Jer.3:15; Eze.34:2-10; Acts 20:28; 1 Pet.5:2,4).
John 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (KJV)
He saith unto him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? . . . he leaves out the words, "more than these" this time. I am sure that the Lord saw Peter's heart, and detected the modesty of his answer. Jesus would not urge him in a comparative way any more, He only wanted Peter to repeat his sincere and hearty love to Him.
He saith unto him, yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee . . . Peter expresses himself in the same way as before. I think Peter is hurt, and it is as if he would say, “Lord, what else can I say?”
He saith unto him, feed my sheep . . . all the sheep . . . the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and His other sheep among the Gentiles, whom the Father had given to Him. These sheep, Christ had paid a tremendous price for, and they must be brought in to the fold. There are multitudes around the world, these being called, that needed to be fed with the Word, with the Bread of Life and Water of Life. Every instance of care and love must be shown to these people, back then and today. Many are called: (Mat.22:14; 7:13-14; 20:16; Lk.13:23-24). Personally, I believe that our loving God calls everyone. His Spirit works within each and every one of these people, trying to reach their hearts. Mat. 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen. (KJV) . . . God gives us all a free will. That is good, but it is also bad. It is good when the Holy Spirit is able reach a person and soften their hard heart so the accept Jesus. That leads to eternal life in Heaven. But is is bad when the person uses that will to refuse to believe God (1 Jn.5:101-3) and they reject Jesus (Jn.3:18,36; 8:24; Mat.25:41,46). That leads to a horrendous eternity in the Lake of Fire (Mk.9:43-46; Rev.20:15).
John 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (KJV)
He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? . . . by these three testimonies of Peter, the thing might be established, and all doubt be gone.
Peter was grieved, because he said unto him the third time, lovest thou me? . . . it could be that Jesus asked this question three times because Peter had denied Him three times. If so, He tenderly reproved him of his fault and reminded him of his sin, while He solemnly charged him to be faithful and vigilant in the discharge of the duties of the pastoral office.
And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee . . . Peter appeals with great warmth and earnestness to Christ as the omniscient God (Jn.16:30), Who searches all hearts (Ps.44:21), who knows all people and all things.
Jesus saith unto him, feed my sheep . . . in response to each of Peter's professions of love Jesus gave him a command, it is as if he had said, "If you love me as you say, prove it thus". These three commands contain subtle language distinctions which, are reasonably represented by English. Lambs and sheep are to be fed, and sheep are to be tended. The first means that young and old in the church are to be provided for, and, since the word "tends" mean to be shepherd unto, the latter may mean that Peter is to play the shepherd to the wandering and the erring, bringing them into the fold. We should consider that it has a close connection to other incidents in the life of Peter: #1. Jesus here calls him by the name by which he had first called him, not the more honorable name which He had given him. #2. Jesus recalls Peter under circumstances very similar to his first call. Compare John 21:1-14 and Luke 5:1-11. #3. In a group around a fire of coals Peter here three times professes his love for Christ, thereby revoking the threefold denial which he had made under similar circumstances (Lk.14:54). Something else to consider: Whether you are in the pulpit or a pew, the question is "Lovest thou me?" Do YOU love Jesus?
Lord Of Our Minds . . . Lack Of Knowledge No Excuse From Service (John 21:18-25)
John 21:18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. (KJV)
Verily, verily, I say unto thee . . . a way of speaking often used by Christ in John’s Gospel, when He was about to bring forth an important Truth, to raise the attention level, and partly for the more strong affirmation of what is spoken. It may have reference both to what went before, confirming Peter's declaration of his love, and the testimony of Jesus’ omniscience. When thou wast young, thou girdest thyself, and walkest whither thou wouldst . . . Peter had just shown this freedom by girding himself and plunging into the sea (Jn.21:7).
But when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not . . . thus our Lord, by delicate but unmistakable implication, shows Peter that the freedom which he now enjoyed would be taken from him, and that he would lift his hands to permit others to bind him that they might lead him to martyrdom to which his flesh (although NOT his spirit) would groan willingly.
But when thou shalt be old . . . implying that Peter would live to a good old age, and continue to be useful as he served Christ, in preaching His Gospel, and feeding His lambs and sheep. This Peter did for he lived to the times of Nero, under whom he suffered, about forty years after this. It is said that Peter suffered martyrdom under Nero, and that he was crucified in the year 64 with his head downward, because he did not feel worthy of dying as Jesus did. I can find no proof of this, but I have heard this for many years.
Thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee . . . when Peter was put to death, we are told that he requested that he might be crucified with his head downward, saying that he who had denied his Lord as he had done was not worthy to die as he did. This expression of Christ may intimate the readiness of Peter thus to die. Though he was not at liberty as when he was young, though bound by others, yet he freely stretched out his hands on the cross, and was ready to give up his life. Another shall gird thee . . . another shall bind thee. The arms and legs of persons crucified were often bound instead of being nailed, and even the body was sometimes girded to the cross. http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4782-crucifixion
And carry thee whither thou wouldst not . . . or compel thee to go to prison and to death. This is not said to say that Peter would be unwilling to suffer martyrdom, it means when he is old, the freedom of his early life would be gone. Although willing when compelled to do it, yet Peter would not seek it; and though he would not needlessly expose himself to it, yet he would not shrink from it when it was the will of God. This shows he would have a cruel, painful, shameful and accursed death, the death of the cross . . . not that Peter in spirit would be unwilling to die for Christ, nor was he; but it means that he would die a death very disagreeable to the flesh.
John 21:19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. (KJV)
This spake he signifying by what death he should glorify God . . . the words of John, explain the meaning of Christ . . . that in like manner, as in John 12:33. Peter would not die a natural death but instead a violent death. He would die a martyr in his cause, and the very kind of death he would die was by crucifixion. Peter was crucified at Rome, ecclesiastical history confirms that Christ was magnified, and God was glorified by his zeal and courage, faith and patience, constancy and perseverance to the end.
And when he had spoken this . . . about the treatment he would meet, the sufferings he would undergo, and death he should die for Jesus’ sake.
He saith unto him, follow me . . . follow me . . . holds a the usual double sense in which Jesus employed it. Peter was to follow him now (and he did arise and follow), and he was also to follow Jesus to a violent death and a glorious immortality. I wonder what Peter’s thoughts were at this time, and in the years to follow since he knew what would happen but not when. Peter also followed Jesus in a spiritual sense, exercising every grace upon him, fulfilling every duty towards him, faithfully and continually performing his work as an apostle and preacher of the Gospel, in which he had now been reinstated and confirmed. 2 Peter 1:14 Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. (KJV) . . . Peter knew he would die, and how he would die.
John 21:20 Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? (KJV)
Then Peter turning about . . . after he rose up and followed Christ. Peter’s following Jesus, is a token of his willingness to serve his Lord, and suffer for Him too.
Seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following . . . again, this means John, the writer of this Gospel. Disciple whom Jesus loved: (Jn.13:23; 19 ;26; 20:2; 21:7,20).
Which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? . . . (Jn.13:23). John seems to have had an unusual share in the love of Christ, as Man, and was allowed to an extraordinary closeness and freedom with the Lord, possibly because the calm and loving nature of John was more like the nature of Jesus than the other apostles. I think the Lord loved all the apostles then and all the disciples today in His wonderful way.
John 21:21 Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? (KJV)
Peter seeing him, saith to Jesus . . . Peter paid great attention to John, and very likely understood, that he meant by his rising up and following Christ, meant his readiness for service and suffering in the cause of Christ, therefore he says . . .
Lord, and what shall this man do? . . . this question probably means, "What death shall John die?" It is utterly impossible to determine why Peter asked this question. John was a favorite apostle, and maybe Peter assumed that John would have a better ending, and not be put to death like Peter. Peter was upset at the questions of Jesus; he was most likely deeply affected with the story of his own approaching sufferings. Maybe a mixture of grief and envy, made Peter ask what would happen to John. Another thing to consider: Peter and John were very close. I think they had deep love for one another. It may be possible that it was a lovingkindness to John . . . a deep concern about him, and a hope that John might not die in the same manner as he, who had denied his Lord. Whatever the reason for the question, the Lord Jesus did not choose to answer it. (Peter and John: (Lk.22:8; Acts 1:13; 3:1,3,11; 4:13; 8:14).
John 21:22 Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. (KJV)
Jesus saith unto him . . . Christ does reply to Peter, but not a very clear one, not what Peter had hoped for, and not without a rebuke to him.
If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? . . . some say this to refers to the destruction of Jerusalem; others say it means the day of judgment; sill others say it means that John would not die a violent death . . . but it seems clear that meaning is, "If I will that he should not die at all, it is nothing to thee." It is remarkable that John was the last of the apostles; that he lived to nearly the close of the first century, and then died a peaceful death at Ephesus, supposedly being the only one of the apostles who did not suffer martyrdom.
What is that to thee? . . . I think we can learn several things from this Passage:
#1. The main thing we must remember is: follow the Lord Jesus Christ.
#2. There are far too many subjects of religion on which disrespectful and worthless curiosity is questioned. Jesus reproves this. We should stay close to the Gospel of Christ and forget stupid questions.
#3. Jesus will take care of all His true disciples, in His own way and time, and we should not be improperly worried about them.
#4. We should go forward willingly to whatever He calls us, be it persecution or death, and we should not envy the job of any other person, and we should only be anxious to do the will of God.
Follow thou me . . . (Jn.21:19). It sets well with God when His people mind their duty in following Christ, and do not concern themselves in things that have nothing to do with them or their service. Christ Jesus is our Leader and Master, and He is also the Shepherd of the flock. He is the Guide in the way, and we are fools not to follow Him. TRUE believers are required to follow Christ. It is our duty and in our best interest to do so. My friend, it is comfortable, honorable, pleasant and safe . . . ending in happiness here and in the hereafter.
John 21:23 Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? (KJV)
Then went this saying abroad among the brethren . . . the Lord’s Words were not rightly understood by some of the apostles present. It was told with a wrong sense applied to it. Our Lord's words were a puzzle when He spoke them, and to many they are still a puzzle.
That that disciple should not die . . . the false rumor that John would not die until the Second Coming of Christ spread. There is no question that John died. The site of his grave at Ephesus was well known to early Christians. The coming of the Lord for which he tarried was that in the isle of Patmos, of which he tells us in the Book of Revelation. This Passage, shows us that John wrote his Gospel before his exile in Patmos.
Yet Jesus said not unto him he shall not die, but if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? . . . these are John’s words, who gives a true and just account of Christ's Words, freeing them from the false sense that was put upon them, which shows his honest nature, his integrity and love of truth. He was not willing that such an error should get among the disciples, and pass in the world for truth.
Martyrdom of the apostles; most of the information about the deaths of the apostles comes from early church traditions. These traditions are not always reliable.
#1. Andrew, brother of Peter, was crucified in Edessa.
#2. Bartholomew was beaten and then crucified in India.
#3. James the Great, older brother of John, was beheaded in 44 A.D. in Judea.
#4. James the Less was beaten, stoned, and then clubbed to death at age 94 in Jerusalem.
#5. Jude, brother of James, was crucified in 72 A.D. in Edessa.
#6. Luke was hanged on an olive tree in Greece.
#7. Mark was dragged to death in Alexandria.
#8. Matthew was killed with a weapon that had a blade and spike in 60 A.D. in Nadabah.
#9. Matthias was stoned and then beheaded in Jerusalem.
#10. Paul was beheaded with a sword in Rome.
#11. Peter was crucified head down by request as unworthy to die the same as Christ, in Rome.
#12. Philip was scourged, imprisoned, and then crucified in 54 A.D. in Heliopolis, Phrygia.
#13. Simon was crucified in 74 A.D. in Britain.
#14. Stephen was stoned to death in 34 A.D. in Jerusalem.
#15. Thomas was thrust through with a spear in India.
John 21:24 This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. (KJV)
This is the disciple which testifieth of these things . . . John recorded in this chapter the appearance of Christ to His apostles at the sea of Tiberias, what was done by Him in their presence, what passed between them; especially the conversation he had with Peter. These are testified to be true by the apostle John.
And wrote these things . . . all that is written in this book, as well as the facts concerning th conversation of Christ with Peter.
And we know that his testimony is true . . . the testimony of John, who was an eye and ear-witness of all that he testified and wrote, must be known, owned and allowed by all to be true, firm, and unquestionable.
There are some who take this to be the testimony of the Ephesian church, or of the bishops of the Asiatic churches, as believing it to be a true and faithful narrative.
John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen. (KJV)
And there are also many other things which Jesus did . . . this refers not only to His doctrines and discourses, His sermons and prayers, and the conversations He had with His disciples, and others on different occasions, but to the signs, wonders and miraculous works which were done by Him, that are neither recorded in this, or in any of the other Gospels.
The which, if they should be written everyone . . . with all the meticulous circumstances relating to them . . .
I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written . . . we are not to imagine that all Christ's sermons or miracles are recorded in this book, or in any of the other Gospels. There is written here and elsewhere as it pleased God we should know, or was necessary for us to know. He has made sure that there is sufficient to create and increase faith in us, and to promote and direct holiness.
The Deity of the Messiah
John 10:30 I and my Father are one. (KJV) There is something sarcastic, and very heartbreaking, about the religious leaders giving so much lip service to the Father while rejecting the One Whom He sent: Mark 9:37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me. (KJV) . . . IF you receive the Son, you are also receiving the Father . . . BUT, IF you reject the Son, you are also rejecting the Father. My friend, the Father and the Son are inseparable! They are SO closely identified with each other, that you CANNOT have One without the Other! The religious leaders in Jerusalem claimed to be faithful to the Father, BUT they completely refused to receive the Son. The Messiah took His unity with the Father to another level when He stated, “I and My Father are one.” There are some liberal commentators that say that the Lord Jesus was just saying here that He and the Father were one in purpose, that they are unified in some mysterious sense simply because they have common goals. These opponents would strongly deny that the “oneness” of Father and Son implies that the Son was in any way God. But, the evidence leads in a much different direction. In the Hebrew, for instance, the word for “one” in John 10:30 is echad which usually describes a complex unity, in contrast with a simple or singular unity. It’s the same word Moses used in: Deut. 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: (KJV) This verse in Deuteronomy, known as the Shema, is considered the awe-inspiring, defining statement of Judaism. It is part of the worship service and observant Jewish men recite it at least twice every day. My dear friend, the point is crystal clear! You CANNOT reject the Son without also rejecting the Father . . . the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This was the case 2,000 years ago when Messiah addressed the Judean religious leaders . . . and it is still true today!
The Believer’s Two-Fold Security
John 10:28-29 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (KJV) . . . The Lord Jesus tells us here that He “gives” us eternal life . . . this meaning that salvation is a GIFT instead of something that we earn by our good works. A “gift” is a present that does NOT require payment. The Apostle Paul said: Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (KJV) . . . IF we have received the gift of eternal life, the Lord said we shall “never perish.” That means exactly what it says . . . we shall never perish! The only “work” that we can do to obtain salvation is to BELIEVE! John 6:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (KJV) . . . We are saved by the grace of God when we believe in faith! Eph. 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (KJV) . . . Can you imagine all the bragging there would be IF we were saved by works that we did?
When we believe God (1 Jn.5:10-13) and accept Christ Jesus as our Saviour and Lord (Jn.3:15-16), we are baptized with the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.12:13). Since our God knows all things, the Holy Spirit will not be given to anyone who is not sincere in their repentance and acceptance of Christ. It is my humble opinion that when we are truly saved, we are gifted with the Holy Spirit, Who comes to dwell within us. Holy Spirit, indwelling believers: (Jn.14:16-17,23; Rom.5:5; 8:9; 1 Cor.2:12; 3:16; 6:19; 12:27; 14:25; 2 Cor.6:16; Gal.4:6; Eph.2:22; 4:6; Phil.2:13; 2 Tim.1:14; 1 Pet.1:11; 1 Jn.2:27; 4:12).
Once we are born again into the family of God (Jn.1:12-13; 3:3-8), we are 100% secure in our relationship with the Lord Jesus and with the Father. It is not conceited for us to say that we are God’s children, any more than it is conceited for one of my children to say he or she is my child. No matter what they do or how they conduct themselves, they will always be my children. Our security as believers depends on two Hands: the Father’s and the Son’s. First, the Son holds us safely in Hi s own Hand . . . and the Father also holds us firmly in His Hand! We are lovingly secured and protected by TWO sets of Almighty Hands!
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