If Jesus Christ appeared to you in the flesh, would you recognize Him? What would it take to divert your mind from your troubles and sorrows long enough to realize He stood in your presence? Then, once you recognized Him, how would you react? In the last chapter of the Book of John, we see how people recognize and receive Christ in different ways.
For some time Jesus had been standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, unrecognized by His disciples. Curiously, He had been questioning and advising them regarding their fishing activities. Like lost sheep, the disciples had conversed with Jesus regarding their failures, yet had not recognized Him or His voice (John 10:3-5). It was as though their facial recognition capabilities had been disabled. Not until the previously empty net became engorged with fish did He reveal His Majesty.
John was the first to catch on, crying out, “It is the LORD!” (John 21:7). It was probably no coincidence that the disciple Jesus loved was the first to recognize Him, for to those whom Christ loves He will reveal Himself in special ways. John had stayed closer to Jesus during His sufferings than any other disciple, which gave him a clear eye, an attentive ear, and more discerning judgment.
Once John recognized Jesus, he was compelled to tell the others. What a lesson for all Christians! Once we see and recognize Jesus it should be in our hearts, as both an expression of our love as well as our duty, to tell others how to recognize and be acquainted with Him. We should proclaim Him without hesitation and with unbridled joy
Peter, in his usual style, embraced the news with wild, impulsive action and jumped into the water, perhaps hoping to come first to Christ. To be charitable, Peter may have been the most desperate to see Jesus. Not only was he dealing with the death and separation the disciples all felt, Peter’s soul still ached from his denials of Christ. Despite his repentance, he must have been the most downtrodden and depressed disciple there. We see additional evidence of his melancholy in John 21:3, where Scripture states it was Peter’s idea to go fishing in the first place, presumably to get their minds off their spiritual troubles.
However, Peter did not approach Jesus with total abandon. Before jumping in the water, he showed his respect to our LORD by wrapping his outer garment around his half-naked body. He had likely been clad only in his waistcoat and drawers while fishing. By wrapping himself he showed modesty and respect to his Savior.
The five remaining disciples, along with John, did not fling themselves into the sea, yet quickly endeavored to bring the boat to shore. They were also diligent in dragging not only the heavy craft but the abundant and gracious harvest of fish Jesus had provided miraculously. They did not wish to dishonor or abandon the gift of His provision.
It is normal to be excited, prompt, and diligent in coming to Christ once we recognize Him. This story shows how God dispenses His gifts in various ways. Some excel, such as John and Peter, distinguishing themselves from their brethren. Others are more ordinary disciples, mindful of their duty and faithful to Him, yet do nothing remarkable to distinguish themselves.
Part of the Good News of the Gospel is that no matter what your personality, all those who recognize and receive Christ will be accepted by Christ in His glory. It is normal for Him to love all those who love Him, whatever gifts they have been given. He is an equal-opportunity Savior and is available to us all (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9).
Are you focused excessively on your job, your family, even your religion to recognize Jesus when He comes to you? Are you too preoccupied with life’s demands to receive Him properly? Christ has filled all our nets with abundant blessings. Take time today to recognize His generous provision and receive Him into your life properly.
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