Tiberias Reunion

INTRODUCTION: Several scripture passages contain statements that Jesus would go ahead of the apostles to meet with them in Galilee after he was raised. John is the only gospel writer to give detail of that meeting at the sea of Tiberias. That account is in the last chapter of John's gospel, and it includes a very personal conversation between Jesus and Peter. John does not make any reference to the final meeting of Christ and the apostles at the Mount of Olives before his ascension, but that event is part of the other three gospels.

NOTE: Bible passages are from the American King JamesVersion.


A - INSTRUCTIONS TO MEET IN GALILEE AFTER THE RESURRECTION

Mark 14 "26 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. 27 And Jesus said to them, All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. 28 But after that I am risen, I will go before you into Galilee."

Mark 16 "5 And entering into the sepulcher, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment; and they were affrighted. 6 And he said to them, Be not affrighted: You seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7 But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there shall you see him, as he said to you."

COMMENTS: Matthew 26:30-32 is very similar to the first passage above from Mark, when Jesus told the eleven he would meet with them in Galilee after his resurrection. but before they went out to the mount of Olives, Judas had left the group to complete his betrayal of Jesus. The second Mark passage takes place at the empty tomb, and Matthew 28:5-8 has parallel wording. Those four passages confirmed that the risen Christ Jesus would meet with the apostles in Galilee. Luke and John do not have parallel passages for those events. I chose the two passages from Mark for brevity, and because Peter is specifically named only in Mark 16:7. Peter is a central character in the Tiberias reunion.


B - JOHN DESCRIBED THE SECOND VISIT IN THE UPPER ROOM

John 20 "24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said to him, We have seen the LORD. But he said to them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the middle, and said, Peace be to you. 27 Then said he to Thomas, Reach here your finger, and behold my hands; and reach here your hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said to him, My LORD and my God. 29 Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30 And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31 But these are written, that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you might have life through his name."

COMMENTS: This second meeting in the upper room when Thomas was present with the other ten apostles is not recorded in the other three gospel accounts. When Thomas was confronted in person by the risen Christ, he quickly responded in belief by addressing Jesus as "my Lord and my God!" Thomas had said he would only believe Jesus had risen if he personally saw him and could touch him. When the risen Jesus had appeared the first time in person in the upper room the ten apostles also had doubts even though other men and women had told them that they had personally seen Jesus after he had risen.

In the closing section of this chapter 20, John has provided a very special perspective about faith in Christ for all who will accept the written Word of God: "blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." The Holy Spirit guided John to tell his readers that there were many other signs that Jesus had done in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But all the signs that Jesus performed which have been written are given that when you read, you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; "and that believing you might have life through his name." This statement about the power of faith in the name of Christ is precious and beautiful for every believer to continually hold in their heart and mind.


C - THE PROMISED MEETING IN GALILEE

John 21 "1 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. 2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3 Simon Peter said to them, I go a fishing. They say to him, We also go with you. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4 But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5 Then Jesus said to them, Children, have you any meat? They answered him, No. 6 And he said to them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7 Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat to him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8 And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. 9 As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, Bring of the fish which you have now caught. 11 Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 12 Jesus said to them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples dared ask him, Who are you? knowing that it was the Lord. 13 Jesus then comes, and takes bread, and gives them, and fish likewise. 14 This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

COMMENTS: Chapter 21 opens with "after these things," and that phrase refers to chapter 20 which had described the Lord's second appearance before the apostles in the upper room, with special notation about the exclamation of faith by Thomas. It caught my attention that Simon Peter, and Thomas are the first two names among the seven apostles listed who are together at the sea of Tiberias. Two of the seven are not named, and there is no comment about the other four of the total of eleven apostles who had seen the risen Christ in the upper room.

This description of fishermen at work is very reminiscent of the starting point for four men who had been called away from their occupation to begin to follow the Lord. Matthew 4 "18 And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. 19 And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. 21 And going on from there, he saw other two brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. 22 And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him." The sea of Tiberias is another name for the sea of Galilee. Using the name Tiberias can be a reminder about the namesake, Tiberius Caesar, and the fact that the Romans ruled over the Jews during that period of history.

The men in the boat did not recognize Jesus standing on the shore until they followed his instructions and had an abundance of fish in their net. It is very characteristic of John in his gospel that he does not use his own name directly. Simon Peter immediately went into the water from the boat to be the first one to the Lord Jesus as soon as John had spoken. The others stayed in the boat and headed for the shore. Even though there was already a fire of coals with fish and bread, Jesus told them to bring some of their surprising catch. The huge amount of fish in the net did not break it as it was pulled ashore. When Jesus invited them to join him to dine, they were all certain of his identity without question. Jesus gave them fish and bread to eat, and John wrote that this was now the third time Jesus had appeared to them after he had risen from the dead. There is no clear explanation of why these seven had gone back to Galilee, or how many days had passed since the second visit in the upper room in Jerusalem.


D - JESUS QUESTIONED SIMON PETER THREE TIMES

John 21 "15 So when they had dined, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me more than these? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my lambs. 16 He said to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? He said to him, Yes, Lord; you know that I love you. He said to him, Feed my sheep. 17 He said to him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, love you me? Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, Love you me? And he said to him, Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you. Jesus said to him, Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, When you were young, you gird yourself, and walked where you would: but when you shall be old, you shall stretch forth your hands, and another shall gird you, and carry you where you would not. 19 This spoke he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he said to him, Follow me."

COMMENTS: Jesus had given Simon the surname of peter, yet he addressed him as Simon, son of Jonas, three times as he challenged the fidelity of his love. Peter was deeply saddened by the repetitive question, but he had denied that he knew Jesus three times the night of the arrest. The Lord Jesus was making it clear to peter that the time had now come for him to permanently leave his occupation and be dedicated to provide the food of the Word to the sheep of the Great Shepherd. And Jesus told Peter that he would be killed in that service, but his death would bring glory to God. Jesus then immediately told Peter to follow him. It was definitely now time for Peter to give all of his time as a "fisher of men" for the Lord.


E - MANY OTHER THINGS TOO NUMEROUS TO BE WRITTEN

John 21 "20 Then Peter, turning about, sees the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrays you? 21 Peter seeing him said to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22 Jesus said to him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? follow you me. 23 Then went this saying abroad among the brothers, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not to him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to you? 24 This is the disciple which testifies of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

COMMENTS: When Peter saw that John was also following, he asked the Lord what John would be doing. The answer that Jesus gave was ambiguous, but firmly indicated that Peter was to concentrate on his own service and not that of others. John wrote that this comment about John remaining, spread among believers as meaning that he would not die: but Jesus had only said "what is that to you." Again, without using his own name, John wrote that he was the one giving this testimony, and disciples of the Lord would know that his testimony is true. John closed this final chapter of his book by stating that there are so many other things done by Jesus that the books needed to record them would be innumerable. John's excellent summary statement about the one who is also my Lord and Savior, compels me to do no more than agree with him and to add my own Amen!

--- REFLECTIONS IN PRAYER ---

I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that through believing I have eternal life. I thank you, Lord, that I saw in these passages a diversity of personalities for those you had chosen to follow you, and the way you enabled them for your purposes. Peter, John, and Thomas each had some distinguishing qualities. Also, they were chosen rather than recognized leaders who had religious, political, or commercial distinction within their society. You know each person so intimately, and you direct those you choose into ways best suited for their service in your kingdom. I thank you , Lord, for showing me your great mercy and compassion as you have used events in my life to draw me closer to you. May I continually humble myself before you and seek more direction from your Word to serve you. I want to resist temptation through watchful prayer as you had instructed your disciples in the garden before your arrest. I acknowledge that the flesh is weak, so I ask for strength by the Holy Spirit in my life. Amen.

Published 10 May 2017