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20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.
(This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, “Lord, who is going to betray you?”) 21 When Peter saw him, he asked, *“Lord, what about him?” * JOHN 21 20,21
This morning I want to share some thoughts about John the beloved disciple with you – in particular from his Easter narratives:
· John 20:1-9 The race to the empty tomb
· John 20:30 – 21:14 The recognition of Jesus on the shore
· John 21:20-24 Sharing the challenge to Peter
John is the longest lived of the apostles.
Almost certainly his gospel was issued after the prophesied death of Peter.
Peter and John were very close friends – and John enjoyed a particularly close relationship with his Lord.
He invariably refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”.
Whereas Peter is the action man of the duo – John is marked by a particular insight and depth of thought.
It is said of him:
“/…when he saw, he saw far more than others did.
When he heard, he heard what others did not hear.
… John was a man who was ever looking for the invisible, and seeing it; listening for the inaudible, and hearing it; feeling after the intangible, and sensing it./”
He was also a man marked out by love – a word which became the keynote of his writings.
I commend to you the example of this man of God and want to divide up my comments into two sections:-
**The race to the empty tomb &*
*2. **The recognition of Jesus on the shore*
Then the Communion, and after that –
**Sharing in the challenge to Peter*
The race to the empty tomb 20: 1-8
3 So Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb.
4 Both were running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first.
5 He bent over and looked in at the strips of linen lying there but did not go in.
6 Then Simon Peter, who was behind him, arrived and went into the tomb.
He saw the strips of linen lying there, 7 as well as the burial cloth that had been around Jesus’ head.
The cloth was folded up by itself, separate from the linen.
8 Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside.
He saw and believed.
9 (They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
It is interesting to notice that in this easter narrative John is ahead of Peter – in the final narrative we find him following behind his friend.
In its own way that is a comment on the ways of Christian discipleship.
There is a race to be run – and sometimes one will be ahead, and at other times behind but what matters is the energy and purpose, the motivation of that race.
In response to Mary’s suggestion that the body has been taken, Peter and John race to the tomb.
I don’t know how far it was – but the disciples, however afraid they might be of the enemies of the Messiah are preoccupied with getting there quickly.
Someone has rather beautifully highlighted the differences between Peter and John in this race – not according to who won – but how they ran.
One runs with the rhythm of the rhyme /“He loves me, he loves me not…”/ the other runs with the rhythm: /“He loves me, He loves me…/” Peter, no doubt still smarting from his denial, moves with the uncertainty of the Master’s love – but John is always sure of the love of his Lord.
The closeness of John to His Lord has a profound bearing upon his ability to see what others do not.
John had followed his Lord into the courtyard of the high priest, he had stood at the foot of the cross and taken seriously the word of Jesus regarding himself and Jesus’ mother – so when the race is run that Easter day he may not enter the tomb first – but when he does *he sees and he believes*.
Peter saw the same view – indeed he saw it first – but he did not believe.
Those who would learn faith need to live close to the Master.
I’m not sure whether John is explaining his friend’s lack of faith – but he adds:
*“They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.”*
There would come a time when all the disciples would have reflected with the help of the Holy Spirit upon the Scriptures – and then that emerging faith would have itself rooted in what God had said.
And later still this same John would write this Gospel and we would have proof of the resurrection from those who:
Ø Knew Jesus
Ø Believed the signs they saw
Ø Understood the Scripture
Ø Left behind a record so that we would be without excuse.
Now the disciples return to their homes.
Where would John go?
To whom would he speak first of what he had seen and believed?
Almost certainly to the woman whom Jesus asked him to take into his own home – Mary the mother of Jesus.
*A SEQUENCE IS EMERGING*
Seeing the evidence & believing
Setting it in the context of Scripture
Sharing it with others
*/Oh Lord – give us that closeness to Yourself that John had – that we might find it the easier to interpret what we see in the light of your love – and learn to trust where we cannot see – simply because we know that You love us./*
We move over the narratives that follow to Chapter 21 and verses 4-7
Recognising Jesus on the shore 21: 4-7
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
“No,” they answered.
6 He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.”
When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
7 Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
Once again the beloved disciple is the one who reads the sign of the catch of fish and knows that the stranger on the shore must be the Lord.
It is worth noticing that John – despite his faith and his insight – was also amongst those who “went fishing”.
Almost certainly this chapter is added to his Gospel out of tribute to Peter who had probably been martyred.
John gives us this beautifully described lakeside scene in the early morning after a disastrous night.
Was it the voice he recognised?
Or was it the similarity of what was happening to that catch of fish in Jesus’ earlier ministry to them?
Peter and John make a delightful combination.
John’s insight and Peter’s action!
We need both in the fellowship – but* we particularly need* those who can tell when Christ is at work.
Those who are sensitive to His ways.
It is not difficult to respond to disappointment, or change with a withdrawal into the familiar habits of the past – (we go fishing).
It takes a particular relationship with Jesus, a particular insight into His ways, to *recognise the Saviour on the shores in disappointment or difficulty!*
John’s words in Peter’s ear have the desired effect – and although it isn’t necessary for Peter to jump into the water to get to Jesus – He does, because now he has been told by someone who sees and hears what he has not seen or heard.
IT IS THE LORD!
And action is called for.
Even though he now swims encumbered with his outer clothing!
*/Oh Lord give us that sensitivity to your voice – that awareness of the ways you work – that can recognise in the early morning of disappointment the glorious Saviour working His miracles of risen power!/*
John may have gone fishing with the others for the same reason Peter did
But John’s inner ear of the Spirit is tuned to the voice of Jesus
His eye sees the catch of fish – but sees more than a catch – the Lord’s workmanship.
He is the one to speak in the ear of his friend – explaining the mysterious,
Provoking worship – for I believe Peter’s dive from the boat is just that – a kind of worship response to the miracle of Jesus.
It is strangely appropriate that we now meet around the Table of the Lord – as did those disciples gather at the feet of Him who had prepared already a sufficient meal for all of them.
9 When they landed, they saw a fire of burning coals there with fish on it, and some bread.
10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you have just caught.”
11 Simon Peter climbed aboard and dragged the net ashore.
It was full of large fish, 153, but even with so many the net was not torn.
12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”
None of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?”
They knew it was the Lord.
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