And He is just the same Jesus in His warm love and resistless power. The words are rather familiar. The fact—no one of us seems to have gotten hold of it yet. This is the thing that makes John eagerly reach for his pen again before his little book-messenger goes out on its errand.
The thing isn’t new in information, but in actual living experience it seems to be so new as to be an unknown thing to some of us. The Master had spoken of this that betrayal-night around the supper board. It was really a continuation of that trysting appointment He had made with them that evening, a wonderful continuation.
Clearly they didn’t understand Him that night. But during those after-Pentecost days they were given a continuous graphic unforgetable illustration of its meaning. We to-day seem able to explain the part they didn’t understand, the teaching that betrayal-night. We don’t seem to get hold of the part they did understand and experience, the real presence of the risen Jesus in the midst actively at work.
That night Jesus said: “I will make request of the Father, and He will send you another unfailing powerful Friend to be always at your side.” Then He added: “He abides with you now (in My presence) and shall be in you (after I send Him).” Then He said, “I come unto you. Yet a little while and the world seeth Me no more but ye see Me.”
And again, “He that hath My commandments and keepeth them he it is that (in that sheweth that he) loveth Me and ... I will manifest or shew Myself unto him.” Here is the simple teaching: He would send the Holy Spirit; in the Holy Spirit’s coming Jesus Himself, the new risen exalted empowered enthroned Jesus, He came; and He would let them see Himself with them.
Now this added chapter of John’s is the illustration in advance to these men of what these words mean. The great standing illustration is that Book of Acts which, will you notice, doesn’t end. It only breaks off, abruptly, without even a punctuation point. It wasn’t meant to end. We are supposed to be living in it yet. But these men haven’t come to the experience of the Pentecostal Acts yet. This is an illustration in advance to them. And it remains an illustration to us of what we seem a bit slow in taking in.
But let us get at the simple bit of story itself. There’s a little group of the inner circle, seven including the leaders. These men haven’t found their feet yet. The stupendous events of those days, coming in such startling succession, have left them dazed. The crucifixion left them stupidly dazed; the resurrection left them joyous, but still dazed. They don’t know just where they are, nor what to do.
So Peter proposes fishing; an ideal proposition, when you want to get off and think things through and out. Any fisherman knows that. And the others readily join in. They see the good sense of it. But the fish don’t catch. And the morning finds them tired in body and more tired in the spiritless uncertainty that hangs over them like a clinging damp fog.