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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

John 21

 

 

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Verse 1

CHRIST’S RESURRECTION LIFE

‘And on this wise shewed he himself.’

John 21:1

The appearings of Christ after His resurrection teach us many lessons.

I. They were designed to convey to the mind some idea as to the manner in which Christ should, at all times, according to His promise, visit and manifest Himself to His people.

(a) After He was risen Christ did not once shew Himself to any unconverted person. His visits were exclusively to His Church.

(b) Observe how He showed Himself to His people. Sometimes He came to one or another, separately, when He was alone—sometimes to two or three when they were in social converse—but more frequently when they were all assembled together.

(c) Those who from any cause especially needed Him, as, for example, Peter and Mary and Thomas, those were especially visited.

(d) On one occasion the manifestation finds the disciples in their ordinary vocation as fishermen—on another engaged in holy conversation—on others, and more frequently, in exercises of united devotion.

(e) Each manifestation is distinct and complete in itself. He is not always, visibly and palpably, with them, but the revelations are express and defined, at certain intervals, as He pleases, and as the occasion requires; and every revelation appears to have had its own particular intention.

(f) He always speaks first and is known by His speaking.

(g) There is an awe about His visits, but a great delight. They all grow in sweetness and pleasurableness as they go on.

(h) Some reproof, almost on every occasion, mingles with great tenderness and love—and there is a remarkable individuality in all His interviews.

(i) There is generally some exercise of faith at the beginning, but the visit seldom closes without some new thought and power communicated at the end.

(j) All the manifestations are eminently strengthening to those who receive them; and, in the majority of cases, they are wound up to some practical duty.

(k) It is evident in all, that Christ Himself is His children’s all-sufficient happiness; and that to know Him, to converse with Him, to love Him, to work for Him—is life, life indeed, communion indeed.

II. There is a further lesson which we must not omit.—Our Saviour in this interval between the grave and glory—an interval of which the deep intention can never be fathomed—seems to have proposed to Himself the design to shew how faithfully He would fulfil His engagements for His Church. So that we may trace a constant correspondence and parallel between the words He spoke and the promises He made before His death, and the acts He did after His resurrection. And this parallel, of which the beginning is shown us there, is to run on for ever and ever.

Rev. James Vaughan.


Verse 4

A MANIFESTATION OF THE RISEN LORD

‘Jesus stood on the beach: howbeit the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.’

John 21:4 (R.V.)

Perhaps of all scenes associated with the manifestations of the Risen Lord the scene upon the lake shore is the most comforting and helpful. Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, James and John the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples unnamed, go forth with nightfall to fish upon the lake. The morning breaks, and still there has been no success. They are weary and disappointed, and it is just the moment when they are least looking for, least ‘ready’ for the Presence of Christ. Then He comes to them in the grey, breaking dawn; but they do not know Him till His tender regard for their need has first drawn from Him words and actions full of power and graciousness and self-revelation. He enters into their life at just that moment that He may thus assure them of His Presence in it at all moments, ‘even unto the end of the age.’ Let us mark each step in that Royal entry of the Risen Lord into the lives and work of His servants.

I. He was watching them all the while.—Think of it, not as a beautiful picture of what once happened on the Galilæan lake, but as equally true for to-day and for our modern life.

II. He was standing on the eternal shore.—Not now in the ship, asleep, for utter human weariness. Not now even ‘walking on the sea and drawing nigh unto the ship.’ Past all shock of storm, all power of change, all peril of death; my point of rest, my goal of hope, the Eternally-glorified One, ‘from henceforth expecting,’ able from that lofty vantage-ground to direct the work of His servants; to watch their varying fortunes; to send, if need be, to their help.

III. From thence He proves the hearts of His servants.—He will see whether they will own their need. ‘Children, have ye any meat?’

IV. He comes to us in our failure.—It was direction we needed so much. He alone could see the true drift of our work, and so He alone could direct it. In order to take a proper estimate of life in its forces, its possibilities, its aims, you must see it from eternity. You must stand and look down upon it as a completed whole. You must view it in the light of God. He alone can do that. ‘Cast the net on the right side of the ship.’ ‘They cast, therefore, and now they were not able to draw for the multitude of the fishes.’ Realising the entry of Godhead and Eternity and Highest Wisdom into our work, that work itself receives a new joyousness, a new direction, a new power. The blessing is sure because something higher even yet—the Presence—is sure.

V. He calls His disciples to His feet.—‘Bring of the fish which ye have now caught.’ They go up into the ship and draw 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.’ The work is sure, the results are tested and proven, brought thus to land at His feet, even though all the deep is not emptied.

Rev. T. A. Gurney.

Illustration

‘I recall a scene some years ago in my former parish. It is the deathbed of a young, splendid fisherman. The last years of his life had been embittered by special causes, and these had intensified the spiritual reserve of a reserved nature. No word would he hear about God whilst in health. Now he had just taken his last farewell of the sea he loved so well, turning from one last hungry gaze over the bright still waters with passionate sobs, as one wishes farewell to life’s dearest love before going forth to fight with death. We spoke together of those tired fishermen, the grey dawn of disappointment the question flung across the waters, the figure of One they loved self-revealed upon the shore. How they had parried with the question rather than admit the depth of need! How the dimly-revealed Lord had loved them all the while! His heart drank it all in; I can never forget it. It was Christ standing there once more on another shore tenderly drawing another weary fisherman to Himself.’


Verse 6

THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE SHIP

‘Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.’

John 21:6

‘Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find.’ There is a right and a left in all our endeavours; and some people have an unfortunate way of doing everything in a left-handed sort of fashion; and so, too often, with the best intentions, they defeat their own object, and destroy their usefulness in the Lord’s cause.’

Let three requisites be mentioned for prosecuting the sacred duty of service for God—humility, tact, and love. A few words must suffice on each of these gifts.

I. Humility.—We have all, no doubt, at one time or another, encountered the busy, bustling, doctrinaire reformer, who impresses all with whom he comes in contact with his own sense of his immeasurable superiority to those he is striving to reclaim, who lets you know how far he is stooping in order to reach the outcast, and how very self-sacrificing and heroic it is of him to undertake and persevere in so disagreeable a task. It is not thus that we should go to those between whom and ourselves whatever disparity there may be is due to God’s strong grace. We must approach them feeling how unworthy we are of the hallowed privilege of being in any degree helpful to their imperilled souls; conscious of the debt we owe to Him Who has drawn us to Himself.

II. Tact. How often in God’s work have we to deplore in the human agent a lack of prudential wisdom. ‘The children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.’ Forethought, consideration of others’ prejudices and difficulties, the happy gift of putting people at their ease, of not spoiling a wholesome message by its setting or its cutting, of not causing another whom we wish to benefit to feel gauche and awkward, these are very real helps in Christian work with individuals.

III. Love. Here is the all-powerful requisite. A loving spirit is what we chiefly need in dealing with souls. This transfigures the routine of Church work; and whatever methods are not fully compatible with this spirit must be rejected. Souls are not to be coerced into acceptance of the truth, dragooned into discipleship. The bruised reed has to be strengthened, not broken; the smoking flax not extinguished, but fanned to a flame. Love will know how to do this. She needs no hard and fast lines to indicate the right path. All this will come naturally to her.

Bishop Alfred Pearson.

Illustration

‘Amongst Mohammedans, it is required of every man who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca, that he should consider himself pledged to do something directly to spread his faith. The visit to the Kaaba binds him to missionary effort. We may well ask, Ought the pilgrimage to Calvary to be less potent?’


Verse 12

THE UNCHANGING CHRIST

‘Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine.’

John 21:12

Picture the disciples grouped round the glowing embers of a created fire with fish laid thereon and bread, the guests of the Lord of Creation. All the elements had combined to produce that mysterious repast—earth, air, and sea.

I. The words ‘Come and dine,’ show us the reality of our Lord’s risen Body.—St. Thomas, by putting his finger into the very wound-prints, was satisfied that it was the same Body; but these wonderful revelations of Himself, that mysterious Presence—diffused like the odour of ointment poured forth and discovered at the same moment in divers places—made deep impressions. Was the Body a real Body? Touch and sight had been satisfied. There remained this one act to prove the reality of His Spiritual Body. The invitation ‘Come and dine’ dispelled all further doubts on this point, and testified to the reality of His Spiritual Presence. He ate with them—not eating as an old English saint has it—‘as the earth drinks in moisture from want, but as the sun imbibes the same from power,’ eating because He willed to do so, to strengthen and confirm them in the faith, not from any necessities of His Risen Body.

II. The words ‘Come and dine’ show us the reality and sameness of our Lord’s love.—He had watched their long fruitless night of toil, and He knew their wants. He who had compassion on the multitudes on those same mountain slopes has now compassion on them. The same loving voice that uttered ‘Give ye them to eat,’ now says ‘Come and dine.’ Death had wrought no change in the love of Jesus; what He was before, He is still.

III. ‘Come and dine,’ the words are still spoken, the ear of faith hears the invitation, the eye of faith still sees Him providing our daily bread, the heart fanned by the breath of the Spirit is filled with Thanksgiving to the true Lord of the Feast. But what cowards we are at times! We feel all this, but we are ashamed of our feelings. For instance, we say our ‘grace before meat’ at home, but do we remember to do this at the hotel, or luncheon-room, or where others are neglectful. Are you afraid of the opinion of the world? Heaven is not easily won, but it is worth the struggle. Do not be discouraged because of the way, look forward to seeing Jesus standing on the morning of the Resurrection inviting you to the Feast prepared by Himself: ‘Blessed are those servants whom the Lord when He cometh shall find watching; verily I say unto you, that He shall gird Himself and make them sit down to meat, and shall come and serve them.’

—Rev. J. L. Spencer.

Illustration

‘The Greek word rendered “dine,” does not necessarily mean a midday meal. Parkhurst shows, on the contrary, from Xenophon, that it may mean a morning repast. As things are in England now, the translation is a peculiarly unfortunate one. Two or three centuries ago, when people dined at eleven o’clock, the unfitness of it would not have been so remarkable. The meaning evidently is, “Come and partake of a morning meal.”’


Verse 15

THE ASKING CHRIST

Lovest thou Me?

John 21:15

‘Lovest thou Me?’ How does this sound, as regards the thought, the purpose, that lies behind it?

I. What does it say about the Speaker? Perhaps it carries with it at first, in our apprehension of it, the air of a demand—a claim, the levy of a due, the summons for an unpaid debt. Here is One Who knows (for He knows all things, and this assuredly is a fact present to His mind) that the son of Jonas is under immeasurable obligations to Him, and ought to love Him. Most certainly Jesus, for Simon, has done and borne incalculably much within the last few wonderful weeks; Simon is infinitely and for ever the better for the Cross and Passion. And behind all the atoning death, and the sin-covering merit, and the robe of righteousness, and the resultant pardon and peace for this very guilty man—behind it, and above it, there lies all that is implied by the fact that Christ has not only saved Peter, but first made him. He can claim the man’s whole being in the double name of Rescuer and of Creator. Yes, all this is the very truth; truth for me, and for you, as much altogether as for that Galilæan penitent of old. But I do not think that we read aright the thought and accent of the Lord in His question, Do you love Me? if we read into it this notion—the exaction of a right, the reminder of a debt.

II. Jesus Christ knew well that human love can never be asked for, face to face, except as just the free response to love; the return, the repercussion, of a tenderness that has first gone freely out as the unselfish gift of the asker’s heart. Just this is the beauty, the glory, the magnetic virtue, once it is apprehended, of the Lord Jesus Christ’s inquiry of us, Do you love Me? It is the very touch which lifts the veil from the heart, not of Peter, but of Jesus. In the very act of asking about Peter’s love for Him, He discloses His love for Peter; a love which is something infinitely different from mere compassion, or mere benevolence, or mere condescension. For it is a love which goes out towards Peter so powerfully, so longingly, with such contact and embrace, that it cannot rest without the responsive gaze and clasp of Peter’s love to Jesus. The Lord is not just stooping to say, It is your privilege to love Me. He covets His sinful disciple’s love; He wants it; it is important to Him; it is much to Him; because He loves the man with such mighty love Himself. Jesus Christ cannot ask if Peter loves Him, and cannot ask, as He does to-day, if we love Him, without betraying how much, how really, how strongly, He loves us.

III. O human soul, listen to the inquiry of Jesus Christ, and give yourself time to understand what it means about Himself.

(a) Are you acquainted with grief, perhaps such grief—so long and deep—as has seemed at last rather to benumb the heart than pierce it, yet leaving the consciousness of loss, of solitude, of change, only too complete? Nevertheless, One stands beside you Who is acquainted with grief Himself, in depths which He has sounded alone. The woe is over for Him, but not the experience. Souffrir passe; avoir souffert demeure éternellement. He understands you, as sorrow understands sorrow. But He also loves you; and He is avaricious of your love. Let Him have it, Him the eternal Truth and Beauty, but also the Brother and the Friend. And when your love has met and satisfied His, believe me, there shall take place a miracle at the point of contact; ‘your sorrow shall be turned into joy.’

(b) Human, heart, distracted, bewildered, preoccupied with we know not what—dissatisfied, perhaps, apart from Christ, perhaps, far sadder still, satisfied for the time apart from Him—to-day let no word be spoken by me of the vast truths which concern duty, law, and judgment to come. It shall be enough this hour to say once more, Listen to the asking Christ. Behold the Son of God; behold the Man of men! You are profoundly important to Him. He wants, He covets you. He will ‘proudly wear’ your love; He is asking whether it is for Him. Let your heart meet His; and for you, too, the contact shall work miracles.

Bishop H. C. G. Moule.


Verse 18

THE RENEWAL OF ST. PETER

‘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.’

John 21:18

Peter, with all his advantages, fell; he denied his Master. He was forgiven, but he could not forget. Yet he learnt that the pain of that memory had its part to play in the purification, the renewing, the strengthening of his character.

It is a greater evidence of the power of Christianity that Peter should have died a martyr than that Saul, the fierce inquisitor, should have become the St. Paul of the great hymn to charity.

I. The one thing Peter wanted is told him.—At first reading this suggestion that he would die a martyr seems a harsh one, but it was probably the one thing which could have restored his self-respect, He is reassured of his capacity for heroism. For the fears of a good man are not allayed when he has saved his skin, nor is his inner sense of shame wiped out by repentance. Peter knew that he had been a coward, and the more keenly a man repents cowardice, the more terribly is it borne in upon him that he may do the same thing again. Peter had protested that he was ready to die, and having refused to die, he has done with protestations. ‘Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee,’ is all that he will say. Christ makes the protestation for him. He will be ready, Christ assures him, to die any death, and the last terror is lifted from the soul of the man who, tradition tells us, voluntarily increased the sufferings of his own crucifixion. No wonder that when our Lord called to him to follow he was ready to follow both to prison and to death.

II. This, indeed, is forgiveness and renewal.—He does not wish to know that he has been excused the penalty; he is willing, nay, desirous of paying that if he can atone; he has been thwarting the Divine purpose; can he do anything to counteract the past, and so feel that he is now at least in harmony with the Divine will? Yes, he has been a coward, but he may become a martyr. His Lord’s faith in him redeems him from despair, sets him again in self-respect upon his feet, and remains a continual inspiration from which he shall never again fall away.

—Rev. F. Ealand.

Illustration

‘“Simon, son of John, lovest thou Me more than these? Feed My sheep.” Do we love Christ; then does our love drive us to feed sheep or tend lambs? Have we “girded ourselves” to some task in which our own profit is not concerned? have we committed ourselves to any cause, so as to give others a chance to carry us whither we would not? Let us not accept that miserable view of a layman, that he is a mere non-clergyman, a negative thing, a man unfettered by creeds and articles and definitions—that is but a poor idea of a layman. A layman is a member of the laos or people of Christ, and as such he is like his brethren of the clergy, both free and bound, free and yet the servant of Christ, in Whose service alone he can find true freedom.’

(SECOND OUTLINE)

THE TWO GIRDINGS

Sometimes, and not unfrequently, this happens; the scheme on which the hearts of a few wise men are set seems to be gaining ground year by year, and then, who knows how, from beyond the world, as it seems, there comes over the people a wind of some new enthusiasm, and the ideals so sedulously pursued seem by comparison insignificant and the old watchwords cease to attract, and the reformers themselves are carried with more or less reluctance on wider ways not of their own choosing. So it was with St. Peter, and so it is still. How deep an echo must these words of our text find in the hearts of statesmen who have been anything more than opportunists!

The thoughts suggested for our consideration shall be these two simple but none the less important ones—

I. That under Divine Providence we have each a work to do for God, each a station and duties in the Divine society; some sheep to feed, some lambs to tend.

II. That the way in which we can best do this work, while it must task our own utmost capacity in wisdom and power, is yet (because it is under Divine power and wisdom) subject to changes beyond our calculation, which confound the wisdom of the wisest and lay the greatest power in the dust.

—Rev. Canon Beeching.

Illustration

‘The Divine Master is here bringing Himself into personal relations with His great and chief Apostle. It was not, as when He appeared to the ten in the upper chamber, when words of peace and of solemn commission were addressed to all—“Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send I you.” These words were spoken to St. Peter amongst the rest, and we are told, too, that there was a special and private interview vouchsafed to him alone: “The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared unto Simon.” And we cannot doubt that then words of reconciliation, words of pardon, words of peace were spoken to the Apostle who had betrayed his Lord. But now, in the eyes of the Divine Master, something more is needed. St. Peter had lost that lawful self-confidence that was necessary to the fulfilment of the apostolic office; he who in the strength of his character, he who in the warmth and sensitiveness of his moral nature had taken, naturally, the foremost place amongst his brother disciples, must needs have lost that position of eminence and of dignity, having thrice denied Him. And so does the Divine Master will to restore, and to reassure him, and so, on the shore of the lake, after the long night had been spent in fruitless endeavour in the fishermen’s craft, and when, in obedience to the Divine Master, the miraculous draught of fishes had taken place, He addresses Himself personally to St. Peter in the presence of the rest.’


Verse 20

JOHN THE EVANGELIST

‘The disciple whom Jesus loved.’

John 21:20

It is somewhat strange that no reference is made in the early registers of the Festival of John. The Venerable Bede is said to be the first writer in whose works it is mentioned; and the probability is that its first observance was merely local; in the thirteenth century, however, it became universal, and ever since has been celebrated, year after year, on the twenty-seventh day of December, with services of a high and holy character.

I. The man.—His form will stand out more distinctly if we but glance at some leading circumstances in his history. He was young, perhaps in his teens, when he entered into public life; and was a Galilæan, son of Zebedee and Salome, and junior brother of James the Great, with whom he pursued the vocation of a fisherman. Like all young men of true and powerful temperament, he was capable of vehement anger, which would occasionally burst forth (Luke 9:51-56). Hence he was surnamed ‘a Son of Thunder.’ When the hour of danger came he never turned his back in the day of battle. Such was John: lowly, yet noble; calm, yet passionate; gentle, yet brave; simple, yet real; in the main, a man to be greatly admired and safely followed.

II. The disciple.—He is now generally spoken of as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved;’ and this appellation he gave himself on the evening of the betrayal; for neither did Jesus nor the other disciples use it. But it was a true and proper title nevertheless: Jesus loved him unutterably. His heart went out specially to him; and John’s heart was won completely by the heart of Jesus. So closely were they bound together that John companioned with Jesus wherever He went, and when He sat down John ‘leaned upon His Breast.’ Thus John was absorbed with his Lord, and thus he rested in the calm assurance of His Divine favour. This was John’s heaven on earth.

III. The apostle.—After the Ascension of Christ, John associated intimately with Peter, and this brotherly fellowship continued until they returned to Jerusalem from an evangelising tour in Samaria. From this time John seems to have taken little part in any outward movement; but he finally quitted the Holy City and transferred his home to Ephesus. After residing here for a while, he was banished to Patmos—a dreary islet in the Ægean Sea; yet albeit a wretched place, he was favoured here with the glorious visions so eloquently described in the Apocalypse. What he did in his exile, and how long he remained in it, we know not; but toward the end of the first Christian century he returned to his adopted city. He was now an old man—the last survivor of those who had been with Jesus. He calls his converts in Ephesus ‘my little children’; and thence, as a centre, he exercised all the holy influence he possessed. His Gospel and Epistles—‘the last and richest treasures of sacred literature’—show the ripeness of his experience and the depth of his wisdom. At the age of one hundred and twenty he prepared his soul for the New Jerusalem, and died peacefully at Ephesus, surrounded by his ‘children.’

Acts 1:8 (R.V.)

DIVINE ENDUEMENT

‘Ye shall receive power, when the holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be My witnesses.’

Acts 1:8 (R.V.)

God the Holy Ghost alone is the Source of power. Why do I believe that this power is a real thing, a real gift?

I. It is clearly promised by God.—God, Who never fails His people, has promised power: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.’ When Jesus Christ went away He said, ‘It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you.’ What was He to do when He came? ‘Tarry ye in Jerusalem till ye be clothed with power from on high.’ ‘When the Holy Ghost is come upon you ye shall receive power.’ Could the Word of God be more clearly pledged to anything than to this, that the Holy Ghost shall give us power? I look to see whether this promise was fulfilled in the first disciples, and I see a body of men, not only Apostles, but all the early disciples—men and women just like ourselves—I find them tarrying in Jerusalem, gathered together, weak, irresolute, timid, and perplexed. I hear the sound of rushing, mighty wind; I see tongues of fire come down upon that body. What has happened? They have received the spirit of power; these timid, irresolute fishermen and peasants are turned into the world’s Apostles—quite bold, always knowing the next thing to do, they faced the world. These humble people, unknown, unnamed, go out a little body, full of the Holy Ghost, and they convert the world. This is my first point, without which all else is nothing, that this thing which we are promised from heaven, this power of the Holy Ghost, is a real thing, as real as the wind, though we cannot see it, a real spiritual gift.

II. And that brings me to ask, Do you want it?—And the answer to that depends upon the answer to another question. What is the object of your life? What are you aiming at in life? The whole object for which the Holy Ghost was to come upon us was that we should be witnesses to Jesus Christ throughout the world. When we look to-day round the world it is a comforting thing (is it not?) to see how Jesus Christ is winning the world every day. Thousands more every day are being converted to Jesus Christ. ‘See how we prevail nothing. Behold the world has gone after Him.’ But how has it been done? That is the wonderful thing. Not by great preachers, not by people whose names are known to the world, but by thousands and tens of thousands of witnesses, who, in every part of the world, of every colour and of every race, bear witness to Jesus Christ. If we are not aiming at being witnesses, we do not want spiritual power. If we are aiming at other things, riches and pleasures, there are plenty of things that will do for our needs; but if everyone of us—and not the least you young boys and girls who are starting in life—make this our aim, to be a faithful witness to the death, then we want power. ‘O God, give me power!’ will be our cry.

III. And so we come to our last question. How are we to receive this power?—And of course we turn—we are right to turn—to that early Church, that band of early disciples, to see how they received their power.

(a) They waited for it. ‘Tarry in Jerusalem, till ye be clothed with power from on high.’ They did not force the hand of God; they did not get impatient. They waited upon God. When I find people giving up their prayers because they do not feel anything; when I find them disheartened and depressed, because they say that when they were confirmed they were full of warm aspirations, but that they are now so dry and cold, I know they have missed the first lesson. They are to wait—to wait for the power of the Holy Spirit. It is certain to come, whether they feel it or not; it does not depend upon feeling at all.

(b) Then while you tarry, pray. Pray with all your soul; not merely wish vaguely for a little more spiritual power—that is not the way to get it; but pray with all your mind and soul and being if it is to come at all, for it is the most precious thing in the world. It is violence which takes the Kingdom of Heaven by force; pray, then, with all your soul. Pray in faith, and pray together.

(c) Use the channels of the power. That is what the first disciples did. They were all baptized, every one of them. ‘Except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.’ But they were not only baptized, they were confirmed. ‘The chiefs of the Church were sent down’—you will find all this in your Bible—‘then laid they their hands on them and they received the Holy Ghost, for as yet He was fallen upon none of them.’ So they bowed their heads for the falling of the Holy Ghost in Confirmation. Have all of you here been confirmed? If not, why not? Put yourselves in the way of the power, as the first disciples did. But they were not content even with that. ‘They abode in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship and in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers.’ Keep with the Church—certainly every Sunday. Those first disciples put themselves in the way of power by the breaking of the bread and the prayers.

—Bishop A. F. Winnington-Ingram.

Illustration

‘My hands were filled with many things

That I did precious hold

As any treasure of a king’s,

Silver or gems or gold.

Ths Master came and touched my hands

(The scars were in His own)

And at His feet my treasures sweet

Fell shattered one by one.

“I must have empty hands,” said He,

“Wherewith to work My works through thee.”

My hands were strong in fancied strength,

But not in power Divine,

And bold to take up tasks at length

That were not His but mine.

The Master came and touched my hands,

(And might was in His own);

But mine since then have powerless been

Save His are laid thereon.

“And it is only thus,” said He,

“That I can work My works through thee.”

 


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on John 21:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/cpc/john-21.html. 1876.

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