Thursday, April 11, 2013

On the Shores of Galilee

After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.
John 21:1

And man's forgiveness may be true and sweet,
But yet he stoops to give it. More complete
Is Love that lays forgiveness at thy feet,
And pleads with thee to raise it. Only Heaven
Means CROWNED, not VANQUISHED, when it says 'Forgiven!'"

The evening breeze was fragrant with the myriad flowers of spring. The Lake lay dimpling in the warm sunset.  Boats and nets were to hand; seven of them pushed off from the shore in one of the larger fishing boats and made off for the familiar fishing-grounds. Darkness stole down the mountains, the lights died out along the shore, heaven’s vault revealed its starry galaxies, the silence of the night was broken only by the letting out and drawing in of the nets, or the occasional stroke of the oar; but when the grey morning began to break—they had taken nothing.
The disappointment was hard to bear. But those who have had experience of God’s dealing are well aware that one door is shut that another may be opened, and that our program is arrested in a certain direction because God has provided something wiser and better. He wished them to understand that their livelihood was to be obtained, not by plying their fishing-craft, but by fires that He would light and meals that His own hands would prepare. The lesson is for us all. If our days are filled with consecrated service, we may go to our beds and sleep in peace.
When, therefore, breakfast was over, Jesus repeated the same question thrice: “Lovest thou Me?”

Love to Jesus is the indispensable qualification of service. Only those who love can satisfy the requirements of Christ’s service. Only they can bear the fret and strain of wayward wills and faltering resolve. Love is needed for the gathering of tired and sick lambs to the shepherd’s bosom, for the weary mothers finding the mountain-path steep and difficult, and for the straying sheep, possessed by an incessant tendency to break through gaps, or wander browsing on forbidden pastures. The first, second, and third qualification of the true Shepherd is Love. Therefore the Master asked persistently, “Dost thou lovest Me?” And to the thrice-repeated question Peter returned the same reply, “Thou knowest that I love Thee….”

Two Greek words stand for Love. The one expresses the reverent and adoring Love with which we should regard the Holy God. The other expresses love in its more human and affectional aspect. In His two first questions, Jesus asked His Apostle whether he loved with the former love. This Peter modestly disclaimed. “Nay,” said he, “but I love Thee with the ardor of personal affection.” Finally, our Lord descended to his level and asked if indeed he loved Him thus, eliciting the immediate response: “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou knowest that I love Thee.”

With evident reference to Peter’s boast made at the Supper, that though his fellow-disciples might desert the Master, yet he never would, Jesus asked him if he loved Him more that the rest. But all his braggart boastfulness had gone, and he, by his silence and his grief, confessed that he dared not claim any priority in love. He was prepared to take the lowest seat, and own himself last and least. In this, also, he proved that he was worthy for the foremost place, because he was willing to take the lowest. If only he might fill some lowly office he would be content. He had become as a little child; and our Lord did not hesitate, with the hearty assent of the brethren who stood around, to take him by the hand and place him in the old foremost position which he seemed to have forfeited forever.
Fisherman, Disciple, Apostle

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