When Jesus Shows Up
By Toby Crowder
“Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord.” John 21:12
Many of us attend churches that come together weekly for worship, and we gather desirous of seeing God move and experience His presence in our lives. In John 16, Jesus had spoken to the disciples and promised them the coming of the Holy Spirit, but the Comforter would not come until the day of Pentecost, and by the time we see them here in John chapter 21, they must certainly have been in despair. They had walked with Jesus for 3.5 years, and now after His death on Calvary they were dismayed and trying to return to the normalcy of their lives. Jesus had appeared earlier to Mary at the tomb, and to the disciples (less Thomas) and then eight days later appeared with Thomas being present. Now on the Tiberian seashore, Jesus chose to reveal himself to seven of His followers that day and fellowship with them.
This record of Jesus’ appearing has considerable encouragement for the weary in heart. Much can be said about Jesus’ timing… which is always perfect! He knew exactly when these discouraged disciples needed this miracle. We can also benefit from looking at those to whom He appeared on this day. Simon Peter was present; the one who had denied that he ever knew the Lord. You will also find Thomas there, the same one who had doubted the Lord and demanded proof of His bodily resurrection. Nathaniel was also present, the same one who asked in John 1:46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” The Scripture here also records the presence of James & John, who had earlier caused commotion by arguing over their seat in Jesus’ kingdom. All these were present that day, along with two other disciples who remain unnamed. This may not sound to us like a prime list of suspects for Jesus to appear and speak to, but that is the beauty of this passage! This ragtag band of disciples who had, by all accounts, let Him down and failed Him… were the very ones to whom He spoke and chose to spend time with. They were downcast, doubting, discouraged and at Peters leading, they had turned back to life as usual, yet Jesus chose to abide with them and invite them to “come and dine” with Him (v. 12)
I encourage you to take a few moments and read the account of this story in John 21:1-14. In reading this, three simple thoughts stand out to me and encourage my heart. First, verse four tells us that Jesus stood on the shore. Notice that He was watching over them, just as a caring Father does. They may have thought that He was gone and felt far away from His presence, but He was there! We can rejoice in the fact that He knows our situation and what we are going through and so He knows when we need Him to “show up!” Secondly, v.5 tells us that He spoke to them. At this point, they had not recognized Him as Jesus yet, but He certainly knew them and called them “Children.” It is striking to me that He still called them “children.” Even after the denials, the arguing, the desertion, and their combined failures, He did not forsake nor abandon His children!
Lastly, notice that He invited them to come and fellowship with Him, and He fed them there. Jesus calls these tired, hungry, discouraged fishermen to come and dine with Him! Not only did He feed them there… but they enjoyed rest and fellowship with the Master around the fire. The Gospels teach us that Peter had warmed his hands by the enemy’s fire while Jesus was being tried and questioned during his trial. How fitting that gathered around a fire kindled by the Lord God Himself, Peter and these other men would be given the opportunity to fellowship with the Master and Peter would be given the opportunity to declare His love for the One he had denied. I pray that we will respond to His still standing invitation to “come and dine.” Discouraged hearts will be warmed, fed, and encouraged when Jesus shows up!
Toby Crowder serves as Pastor of Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Spruce Pine. He and his wife Leslie have been married for 28 years and have two daughters, Emilee, and Katy. He can be contacted via the church’s website MCfamilyforChrist.org or [email protected]
You can read more from Pastor Crowder here.