« PreviousContinue »
The necessity of supplying this ellipsis is demonstrated by OUR LORD'S gentle rebuke: Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed [that I am THY LORD AND THY GOD,] and then, we may presume, with an approving look, or kind glance, directed to the beloved disciple, John, the meaning of which he only could understand, he contrasted his quickness of belief at the tomb, with the slowness of the rest; including him chiefly in the general commendation, Blessed are they that did not see, yet did believe! which, in fact, was confined to John himself, John xx. 29. And this appropriation of the commendation seems to be confirmed by Mark's account of the preceding rebuke to Thomas in particular, which he represents as general likewise. "Afterwards he appeared to the eleven, at supper, and reproached them with their disbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe them that beheld him after he was risen;" even the Apostles that witnessed the resurrection, Mark xvi. 14. That this reproach was not uttered at the former meeting is evident from two circumstances, 1. The eleven were not all there, Thomas being absent; 2. CHRIST then kindly soothed their fears, and convinced their senses and their reason, without any reproach, which then they were unable to bear, dejected as they were at the time. Our blessed LORD then graciously imitating, to the Apostles, the mildness of his angels to the timorous women at the tomb; and at the present meeting, how gently did he reproach other disbelievers through Thomas.
And the Apostle Paul confirms this, by omitting the preceding manifestation, and ranking the present to "the twelve," next to the single manifestation to Peter. Mark reckons only "eleven" before the election of Matthias in the room of the traitor Judas; but Paul states the full number, because Matthias was present at the meeting, Acts i. 21-26. Thus do the Evangelists and Apostles, even in their omissions and dissonances, attest their intimate knowledge of the whole subject.
To the beloved disciple we are indebted for the detail of this
Michaelis, Dathe, Parkhurst, &c. Wetstein, Marsh, Lardner, Middleton, &c. "whom I have withstood to the face where they were blameable," as in duty bound, "I consign" my own mistakes, "in turn," for detection and for correction, ready to kiss the rod :
Hanc veniam petimusque, damusque vicissim.-HOR.
"Petimus," ut Critici; "damus," ut Scriptores hallucinantes.
manifestation, only slightly intimated by Mark, and obscurely by Paul. His invincible modesty, so conspicuous throughout his Gospel, in which he never expressly names himself, has suppressed the obvious allusion to himself, in the blessing pronounced by his adored LORD, on the rational believers of his resurrection, of which class he was the solitary instance among the aggregate of the disciples; even of the Apostles themselves, who ought to have known better things.
With this precious and most interesting anecdote John closes the detail of our Lord's manifestations at Jerusalem.
Next to these public manifestations we rank, with the Apostle Paul, (who derived his information from immediate revelation of CHRIST himself, 1 Cor. xv. 3; Gal. i. 12.) the most public of all, according to appointment, at
THE MOUNTAIN IN GALILEE.
What time elapsed from the last manifestation to this we are not told. But if we suppose, as is probable, 1. That the disciples returned to Galilee immediately after the last appearance; and 2. That this grand appearance took place, like the two preceding, on a Sunday, we cannot be much mistaken, in dating it three weeks, or the twenty-second day from Easter, inclusively; which will give full time for collecting his friends from various quarters of that district, in which he had spent the greater part of his ministry, and where he was best known.
The Evangelist comprizes this in the following short account. "And the eleven disciples departed into Galilee, unto the mountain where JESUS had appointed [to meet them.] And when they saw him they [in general] worshipped Him; but some distrusted," [doubting his bodily presence,] Matt. xxviii. 16, 17.
This assembly was numerous, according to Paul; it consisted of more than five hundred brethren, or disciples, of whom the majority were still alive when he wrote his first Epistle to the Corinthians, about A. D. 57, or twenty-six years after. To all these surviving witnesses he appeals, with confidence, to vouch his own testimony.
THE SEA OF TIBERIAS, OR GALILEE.
This we conceive to be the scene of the ensuing manifestation to "James," mentioned by Paul; as the head of the fishing
party noticed by John in the last chapter, or appendix to his Gospel; consisting of James and his brother John," the sons of Zebedee, Peter, Thomas, and Nathaniel, and two others of the disciples." The proposal to fish was made by Peter, and agreed to by the rest; and we may naturally place it on the ensuing Sunday, or twenty-ninth day. The day after the sabbath was a likely day to want provisions, John xxi. 1, 2.
They fished during the night of Saturday, after Sunday began, but took nothing. When the morning dawn had commenced, and they were near the shore, JESUS stood there, and said, Dear children, have ye any thing to eat? They answered No; then said he, Cast your net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They did so, and now they were not able to draw up the net, for the multitude of fishes inclosed therein. Struck with the resemblance of this to OUR LORD'S former miracle, when he called them to his service, and promised to make them fishers of men, (Luke v. 3-11,) John sagaciously observed to Peter, It is THE LORD! Whereupon Peter, in his eagerness to meet him, put on his fisher's coat, that he might not appear naked or undressed, and threw himself into the sea, and swam to land, while the rest came after him in their boat, (λolapu,) drawing the net to shore; from which they were distant two hundred cubits, or about a hundred yards, John xxi. 3-8.
As soon as they landed, they saw a charcoal fire, and a small fish, (ofapiov,) laid thereon to broil, and bread, provided miraculously, for their entertainment. Then said JESUS, as if this was apparently too small for the company, Bring hither now some of the small fishes that ye have taken. Simon then, with the rest, went up into the boat, and dragged the net to shore, full of an hundred and fifty-three great fishes+; and although there were so many, yet the net was not broken, John xxi. 9-11.
It has been observed by Oppian, in his Halieutics, or Poem on Fishing, and by able naturalists, that the different known species of fishes amount to that number, of an hundred and fifty-three; whence it might be inferred, that persons of all na
The diminutive Taidia is expressive of fondness, like Tεкvia, John xiii. 33. It is so used by John himself, 1 John ii. 14-18.
+ Hasselquist, speaking of the fish found in the lake of Galilee, says, that one species, the charmud or karmud, often weighs thirty pounds.
tions, ranks, and conditions were to be included within the pale of the Christian Church.
JESUS said to them, Come hither, and breakfast. But none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was THE LORD. JESUS then cometh up to them, and taketh the bread, and giveth to them, and the small fish likewise. And probably on this occasion also he ate and drank with them, as implied in his hospitable invitation. He did not, perhaps, use any of their fish, that the entertainment might be solely his own; and to signify, perhaps, from small beginnings, like the little fish, assisted by his grace, how great would be their future success. The great fishes taken on this occasion might also be designed as a providential supply for their families during the absence of the Apostles themselves, who were immediately to return to Jerusalem, and wait there till the day of Pentecost, and then to enter upon their public functions, destined to return home to domestic life no more, John xxi. 12, 13.
This was the third public appearance of CHRIST to his disciples, noticed by John, xxi. 14; but the fourth, noticed by Paul, including the first to Peter singly, 1 Cor. xv. 5—7 : the former omitting the appearance in Galilee, and the latter the appearance to the ten Apostles on the evening of the resurrection. The authority of Paul is sufficient for the present arrangement, by which all the seeming variations are satisfactorily reconciled.
The ensuing interesting conversation of OUR LORD with Peter was founded on his forwardness to meet him, in the ardour of his zeal. It seems to have been graciously designed to reinstate Peter, publicly, in that Apostleship which he had abdicated by his denials; to the number of which, the question thrice repeated, Simon, son of Jonah *, lovest thou me? obviously alluded. Peter's humility now was as conspicuous as his presumption before. He modestly disclaimed any pretensions to superior attachment, "more than these," or above the rest of the company; and appealed to CHRIST himself, as the SEARCHER OF HEARTS, only for the truth of his attachment, LORD, thou knowest all things, thou knowest that I love thee, when grieved by the repetition of the question, as if intimating
Though Simon was really the son of Jonah, there might be, perhaps, a remote allusion to his predecessor Jonah the prophet's fall and repentance, who was of Gath-hepher, in Galilee, and perhaps might have been the ancestor of the Apostle.
some distrust of his sincerity. CHRIST'S triple commission to him, first to "feed my lambs," or the weakest of the flock, and twice, “pasture and feed my sheep," significantly shewed that the pastoral care of the whole flock intrusted to his charge, was the surest testimony of loving Himself, the GREAT SHEPHERD, John xxi. 15-17.
And now when Peter was thus formally restored to his rank and dignity, as the first of the Apostles, OUR LORD forewarned him of the future trials and persecutions to which he should be exposed, in his old age, beautifully contrasted with the recent instance of strength and activity he had shewn in stretching forth his arms to swim to shore. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, when thou wast younger, thou didst gird thyself with thy fisher's coat, and go freely at large, but when thou shalt grow old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands on the cross, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee to the place of crucifixion against thy will. Thus signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had thus spoken, He said, "Follow me," as a true disciple, in imitation both of my life and death; evidently alluding to his former injunction, after rebuking him for his worldly-mindedness, "Whosoever is willing to go after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me," Matt. xvi. 23, 24. "For whosoever doth not carry his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple," (Luke xiv. 27 ;) John xxi. 18, 19.
John, without waiting for a call, followed JESUS as he walked, by this action signifying his prompt love and zeal for his adored LORD. Peter, turning about and seeing this, was led, by curiosity, to enquire also the fate of this favourite disciple, and his own particular friend; and said, What shall become of him? JESUS chid him, with this ambiguous answer, If I chuse that he shall remain in the flesh until I come in judgment on Jerusalem, what is that to thee? Follow thou me; mind thy own concerns. This was misunderstood by the brethren, and a report prevailed among them that John would not die. It was explained by the event of his long outliving the destruction of Jerusalem, John xxi. 20-24.
Immediately after this manifestation, at the Lake of Galilee, we may conclude, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem; and on