John 21:7
First uttered by John when he discerned the form of his beloved Master upon the beach of the Galilaean lake, this exclamation has passed into the hearts and the lips of all Christian people, who, amidst the various scenes of life, have recognized their Savior's presence, and have ever been wont to acknowledge with reverential faith, "It is the Lord!" The circumstances in which the words were uttered, as well as the words themselves, are full of instruction, suggestion, and comfort.

I. How JESUS COMES TO BE HIDDEN. Others, beside the twelve, have for a time failed to recognize the Son of God.

1. It may be through human misapprehension. Many there are who never really see and know Jesus. They misunderstand his character and purposes, his disposition with reference to themselves; and consequently they remain altogether estranged from him.

2. It may be through human unbelief. Men may, and do, deliberately draw a veil between themselves and Christ. Their sins, their unspirituality, are a complete barrier to their really knowing him; they are without the receptiveness and sympathy which are necessary in order to such knowledge.

3. It may be through human perplexity and despondency. In the case of the disciples this seems to have been the explanation of their failure to perceive at once that the form upon the shore was that of their Lord. Their minds were preoccupied with their own distress, uncertainty, and troubles. And thus they were for a while blind to that very presence which alone could bring them relief and blessing.

II. HOW JESUS COMES TO BE RECOGNIZED. He was hidden for a short season from the eyes even of his own attached friends; but the hiding was not for long. Nor will he fail to make his nearness and his grace known to those who are prepared to receive the revelation. This he does:

1. By the voice of Divine authority in which he speaks. There was command in the tones of Jesus when he bade the fishers let down their net. He never speaks - however graciously and with however much of encouragement and kindly invitation - save in a manner divinely authoritative. And the true disciples recognize that royal tone.

2. By the language of sympathy and love which he uses. As Jesus pitied the poor fishermen who had toiled all night in vain; as he addressed them as his children, and showed commiseration; so does he ever appeal to the tenderest feelings of human hearts, awakening the response which love gives to love.

3. By the provision which he makes for the needs of his own. There is a practical aspect in the spiritual ministry of the Savior. He provided breakfast for the disciples; how could he have given them a homelier welcome? Thus does he give his flesh for the life of the world. His Deity is recognized in his devotion and sacrifice. They who once see what he has done for man can never doubt who he is.

III. How THE RECOGNIZED JESUS IS GREETED. With the cry, "It is the Lord!" This is:

1. The cry of faith, on discovering in him the Truth of God. The long-looked-for vision breaks upon the soul. He who has been desired draws near.

2. The cry of obedience, as his will is felt to be authoritatively binding. He speaks the language of command; and the obedient soldier adopts the wish as law, and does the bidding of his Captain; for "it is the Lord!"

3. The cry of submission and resignation, as his hand is discerned in the chastisements of life. Let a man say, "It is fate!" or, "It is fortune!" and how can he submit with profit? But let him say, "It is the Lord!" and he will add, "Let him do as seemeth good in his sight."

4. The cry of witness, as Christ's presence is proclaimed to all around. It is the mission of the Church to all the world, to direct attention to the world's Savior and Lord.


1. With his society and friendship.

2. With his liberality and bounty, by which all their spiritual wants are supplied.

3. With his power and benediction upon the life and work of each one who acknowledges and serves him.

4. With the final vision of his face. They who have seen him by faith on earth shall see him as he is above. Blessed, rapturous, shall be the recognition, when the disciple shall open his eyes in heaven, and shall exclaim, "It is the Lord!" - T.

Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said unto Peter, It is the Lord.
I. LOVE RECOGNIZING JESUS. John was distinguished for his clear and far-reaching vision. Peter was the embodiment of zeal, John of love.

1. Love can recognize where mere earnestness fails. You did not hear anything as you sat in your friend's house, and you were rather surprised when she broke off her sentence with "Excuse me" and hurriedly left the room — the fact was the mother had heard the cry of her child. You would have been earnest enough in doing good to the little one; but only the mother's ear could hear its voice. And so in the case before us: let Peter but get half an idea that Jesus is standing on the shore, and nothing will keep him in the boat; but Peter, with all his earnestness, would perhaps have never said, "It is the Lord."

2. Love communicates good. John could not keep the good tidings to himself. Whether in temporal or spiritual blessings, love invites others to share.


1. Consistency of character. The same Peter who once before walked upon the sea — who said, "Though all men forsake Thee yet will not I" — who ran into the sepulchre, and compelled John to follow, casts himself into the sea to go to Jesus.

2. Naturalness. Had any one else but Peter attempted this, it would have appeared awkward and ungraceful; had he refrained from rushing off to Jesus we should have felt that it was not like Peter. We believe in individuality. It would be better for the Church and the world if men would be themselves.

III. THE WISDOM OF CAREFULNESS. The other disciples took care of the fishes and came to land by the boat, and they were right; for —

1. They were preserving what Jesus had given them.

2. They were showing that they appreciated His blessings.

IV. VARIETY IN UNITY. That little ship contained the infant Church, yet in that Church you find various types of character. There is the loving John, the go-ahead Peter, and the quiet, careful people who take care of the necessaries of life. And so in the Church. We need men who can stand upon the watch tower and point to Christ; we need others full of fire; and the plodding men who never do anything out of the way, but nevertheless do a great deal of necessary work. Thus —

1. God distributes His gifts in various ways and infinite variety.

2. We should beware of jealousy.

3. We ought not to judge each other. As Matthew Henry says, "Some are useful as the Church's eyes, some as the Church's hands, and others as the Church's feet; but all are for the good of the body."

(A. F. Barfield.)

It seems very strange that these disciples had not, at an earlier period, discovered Christ, inasmuch as it was so manifestly a repetition of that former event by which they had become "fishers of men." We are apt to suppose that when once again they embarked on the lake it must have been with many a thought of Him. Yonder — perhaps we fancy them thinking — is where we saw Him coming out of the mountains, when He walked on the water; yonder is where He made them all sit down whilst we bore the bread to them: there is the very spot where we were mending our nets when He came up to us and called us to Himself — and now it is all over. "We trusted that it had been He who should have redeemed Israel." But there does not seem to have been any such sentimental remembrance. John takes pains to show them as plain, rough men, busy about their night's work, and thinking a great deal more of their want of success, than about old associations. Then through the darkness He comes, and speaks as once before, and repeats the old miracle, and their eyes are all holden excepting the eyes of him who loved, and he first says, "It is the Lord."


1. No man will understand the world aright, who cannot say about all creation, "It is the Lord."(1) If we would pierce to the deepest foundations of all Being, we cannot stop until we get down to the living power of Christ, by whom all things were made, and whose will is the sustaining principle which keeps it from decay.(2) What did Christ work His miracles for? Not solely as proof of His Messiahship, but that for once He would unveil to us the true Author of all things, and the true Foundation of all being. Christ's miracles interrupted the order of the world in so far as they struck out the intervening means by which the creative and sustaining word of God acts in nature. We are then to take all these signs and wonders as a revelation of the real state of things, and to see in them tokens that into every corner of the universe His loving hand reaches, and His sustaining power goes forth. Into what province of nature did He not go? He claimed to be the Lord of life by the side of the boy's bier at the gate of Nain, &c. He asserted for Himself authority over all the powers and functions of our bodily life, when He gave eyes to the blind, &c. He showed that He was Lord over the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea, &c. And He asserted His dominion over inanimate nature when the fig-tree withered, and the winds and waves sunk into silence. He let us get a glimpse into the dark regions of His rule over the unseen, when "with authority He commanded the unclean spirits, and they came out."(3) All these things He did, in order that we, walking in this fair world, should be delivered from the temptation of thinking that it is separated from or independent of Him. Let "It is the Lord" be on our lips, and nature will then be indeed to us the open secret which "The Lord will show to them that fear Him."

2. The same conviction is the only one to explain or make tolerable the circumstances of our earthly condition. Either our life is the subject of a mere chaotic chance; or else it is put into the mill of an iron destiny, which goes grinding on, regardless of what it grinds up; or else, there is the will which is love, and the love which is Christ! I understand not how a man can front the future knowing all his vulnerable points and all the ways by which disaster may come down upon him, and retain his sanity, except he believes that all is ruled, not merely by a God who may be as unsympathizing as He is omnipotent, but by His elder Brother, the Son of God. But the riddle of Providence is solved, and the discipline of Providence is being accomplished, when we have grasped this conviction — All events do serve me, for all circumstances come from His will and pleasure, which is love; and everywhere where I go — be it in the darkness of disaster or in the sunshine of prosperity — I shall see standing before me that familiar and beloved shape, and shall be able to say, "It is the Lord." That is the faith to live by, and to die by; and without it life is a mockery and a misery.

3. This same conviction should guide us in all our thoughts about the history and destinies of mankind and of Christ's Church. The Incarnation and the Crucifixion are the pivot round which all the events of the ages revolve. "They that went before and they that came after," when He entered into the holy city were a symbol of history. All the generations that went before Him, though they knew it not, were preparing His way; and all the generations that come after, though they know it not, are swelling His triumph. The tangled web of human history is only then intelligible when that is taken as its clue, "From Him are all things, and to Him are all things," and when all is finished, it will be found that all things have tended to His glory who is King of kings and Lord of lords.

4. Such a conviction living and working in our hearts would change for us the whole aspect of life. See Christ in everything, and be blessed; or miss Him, and be miserable. It is a waste, weary world, unless it be filled with signs of His presence. If you want your days to be true, happy, manly, and Godlike, it will only be when they all have flowing through them this conviction, "It is the Lord."

II. ONLY THEY WHO LOVE SEE CHRIST. John, the apostle of love knew Him first.

1. In religious matters, love is the foundation of knowledge. There is no way of knowing a person except love. A man cannot argue his way into knowing Christ. Man's natural capacity within its own limits is strong and good; but in the region of acquaintance with God and Christ, the wisdom of this world is foolishness. "He that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love."

2. Love will trace Him everywhere, as dear friends detect each other in little marks which are meaningless to others. Love's quick eye pierces through disguises impenetrable to a colder scrutiny. Love has in it a longing for His presence which makes us eager and quick to mark the slightest sign that He is near, as the footstep of some dear one is heard by the sharp ear of affection long before any sound breaks the silence to those around. Love leads to likeness to the Lord, and that likeness makes the clearer vision of the Lord possible. "It is the Lord" is written large and plain on all things, but like the great letters on a map, they are so obvious and fill so wide a space, that they are not seen. They who love Him know Him, and they who know Him love Him.

3. And is it not a blessed thing that this glorious prerogative does not depend on what belongs to few men only, but on what may belong to all?

4. But we cannot love by commandment. The only way is to see the lovely. The disciple who loved Jesus was "the disciple whom Jesus loved." Generalize that, and it teaches us that —

III. THEY LOVE WHO KNOW THAT CHRIST LOVES THEM. Our love can never be anything else than the echo to His voice of tenderness, than the reflected light upon our hearts of the full glory of His affection. "We love Him, because He first loved us." The fountain that rises in my heart can only spring up heavenward, because the water of it flowed down into my heart from the higher level. Oh, then, look to Christ, that you may love Him! Think of that Saviour who has died for us, and lives for us! Do not ask yourselves, to begin with, the question, Do I love Him or do I not? If a man is cold, let him go to the fire and warm himself. If he is dark let him stand in the sunshine, and he will be light. If his heart is all clogged with sin and selfishness, let him get under the influence of the love of Christ, and look away from himself and his own feelings, towards that Saviour whose love shed abroad is the sole means of kindling ours.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Now when Simon Peter heard that... he girt his fisher's coat unto him.
for the Lord is indicated by the careful observation, even in such a moment of excited feeling, of the petty proprieties of clothing.

(W. H. Van Doren, D. D.)And did cast himself into the sea. —





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