Page images


Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord; "It is our master." Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, rather," he put on his upper coat," for he was naked, and did cast himself into the sea.

Peter is said to be naked, not because he was without clothes, but because he had stripped off his upper garment. In the same manner Saul is said to have Been naked, when he had put off his upper garments, 1 Sam. xix. 24; and David to be uncovered, when he was only girded by a linen ephod, 2 Sam. vi. 14, 20. To dress himself in this manner, was indeed but a bad preparation for throwing himself into the water, but it was done out of respect to his master. For the same reason he could not wait for the slow arrival of the vessel at the shore, but' leapt into the water, that -he might be the first to welcome his approach.

8. And the other disciples came in a little ship, rather," in the boat," for they were not far from land, but, as it were, "about," two hundred cubits, one hundred and thirty English yards, dragging the net with fishes.

The evangelist, after mentioning what Peter did, assigns the reasons why the others did not follow his example; they were but a short distance from shore, and were employed in dragging the fish, which could not have been brought in without their assistance.

9. As soon, then, as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals

there and fish, "a fish," laid thereon

and bread.

This seems to have been miraculously provided, as an entertainment for the disciples; but, as it was not sufficient for the whole company, Jesus desires them to bring some of the fish which they had just caught.

10. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.

11. Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of great fishes; a hundred and fifty three; and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.

This was a miraculous circumstance as well as the extraordinary draught of fishes. Naturalists inform us that one of the fish found at present in this sea of Galilee, commonly weighs about thirty pounds*. Were the whole number of this, or indeed of much inferior weight, nothing less than a miracle could prevent the net from being broken. Peter is said to have drawn it to land; not that it was done by him alone, for the others no doubt assisted him; but he was the leader and director in the business.

12. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine, or, 66 come and breakfast ;" for it was now early in the morning.

This invitation shows that he ate with them, although that is not expressly mentioned by the evangelist.

And none of the disciples durst ask him, or, "ventured to ask him," Who

Harmer's Observations, Vol. ii. p. 200.

art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.

The reason why they did not ask him was that it was unnecessary; for they were sure of the fact.

13. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them; and fish likewise.

14. This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples after he was risen from the dead.

The writer means that this was the third time that he appeared to his disciples when most of them were assembled together; for he has himself before recorded more than three appearances, including those which Jesus made to individuals.


1. The simple and artless narrative which we have been reading, carries with it plain marks of authenticity and truth. Minute circumstances are mentioned, which an impostor would have been careful to avoid, and which it would have occurred to no person to relate, except an eye-witness; such a witness John must have been; and therefore we may depend upon the truth of what he says. This remark we have had occasion to make before; but the present story suggests it again to the mind, and gives it additional weight. Thus it is that this history proves itself as it were, and renders external evidence of its authority almost unnecessary.

[blocks in formation]

2. We are here furnished with fresh and more convincing evidence of the resurrection of Jesus: he shows himself to be the same person, not only by his looks, by his voice, by his manner, which were sufficient to convince every reasonable person of the fact, but likewise by working miracles. These he had been before authorized to perform, to prove that God had sent him to be a divine teacher; and that which he now wrought might answer the same purpose; but it would likewise answer the further end of proving that he was the person who was crucified; for if not, Heaven itself countenances an impostor, by enabling a man who pretended to be Jesus, but was not really he, to alter or suspend the course of nature, and hereby give its sanction to the belief of a lie. If such a supposition is utterly incredible, then Jesus is the person that he appeared to be. Heaven honours him with fresh testimonials of its regard, to prove that he stands as high in its favour now as before his death, and to remove all doubts about the identity of his person. Let us rejoice in this new evidence of that very important event: he performs the same miracles at the close of his ministry as at the beginning, by causing his disciples to inclose an extraordinary draught of fishes; a thing that would never have occurred to any other person to perform; and he has the same design in both to assure them of the great success which they would have in preaching the gospel; that henceforth they were to become the fishers of men, and to inclose in their net a vast multitude of people.

John xxi. 15. to the end.

In the first part of this chapter we have an account of Christ's appearing to his disciples at the sea of Tiberias; of his furnishing them with a miraculous draught of fishes, and sitting down to eat with them. The repast being over, he now proceeds to the business for the sake of which this appearance had partly been made, by exhorting Peter to instruct his disci

ples, and by forewarning him of the manner of his death.

15. So when they had dined, "when the meal was ended," Jesus saith to Si-. mon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?

That is, than these nets or these fishes? Art thou more attached to me than to the instruments or profits of thy profession? This was a very natural question, considering that Peter had just returned to his trade of fishing, and it might appear doubtful whether he did not prefer that employment to his office as an apostle, the more especially as he had lately been guilty of so great a crime in denying his master.

He saith unto him, Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee. He saith

unto him, Feed my lambs.

Instruct and strengthen the converts to my religion. Peter is here exhorted to feed the lambs, and in the next verse the sheep; but the same persons are intended in both places

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.

17. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?

In putting the same question to Peter three times, Jesus is supposed to allude to his denying him as many

Matt. x. 16. Luke x. 3.

« PreviousContinue »