Thomas Adam.

An exposition of the four Gospels (Volume 2) online

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3. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and
that night they caught nothing.

God brought nothing to the net. Murmur not at your
disappointments. The hand of God is in them ; and if you
see it, and take them patiently, they will prove the way
for greater manifestations of his grace.

4. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the
shore ; but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus.

Here was a blessing for them which they did not expect,
and which made them full amends for their night's unsuc-
cessful labour. " But the disciples knew not that it was
Jesus." And why did they not, if he appeared like him-
self, as we have no reason to suppose but he did .^ Those
who were to be witnesses of Christ's resurrection, are par-
ticularly careful to acquaint us, for our greater assurance,
how backward they were to believe it themselves.

542 ST. JOHN. [chap. xxi.

5. Then Jesus saith unto them. Children, have ye any meat ?
They answered him. No.

He knew they had not, he knows that we have no spiri-
tual food but what he gives us ; and he still asks the ques-
tion, with no other intent than to suit himself to our an-
swer. If we say, No : Lord, help me ; he wants nothing
more from us, but he is ready to fill us with all good things :
if the heart does not give this answer, he leaves it to itself.

6. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the
ship, and ye shall find.

Doing what Jesus bids us, in faith and hope of what he
will do for us, we are sure is casting the net on the right
side of the ship ; and the way to find Christ in all his

It is Dr. Whitby's observation here, that " Christ being
absent, they caught nothing ; but when he is present, they
having his command, enclose a very great inultitude of
fishes; to teach them, that though in preaching the gospel,
they were insufficient to do anything as of themselves,
(2 Cor. iii. 5,) yet having his command to go and teach
all nations, and the promise of his presence with them, they
should be wonderfully successful in bringing many to the

This is quoted to show the benefit and pleasure of look-
ing farther than the bare letter, or outside of scripture ;
and will be my apology for some attempts of the same kind,
in the course of this exposition.

6. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it,
for the multitude of fishes.

Three thousand souls were caught in the net of the Gos-
pel by St. Peter's first sermon. It is an exceeding great
multitude which will be gathered by it, from fiist to last,
into the kingdom of heaven. Now is our time.

7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved, saith unto Peter,
It is the Lord.

If we are Christians indeed, we may say this from our

VER. 8— 17.] ST. JOHN. 543

experience of his work in us, our repentance, faith, and
willing subjection to God, our new heart, and new spirit,

7. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt
his fisher's coat unto hiui, (for he was naked,) and did cast him-
self into the sea.

Peter had been without his upper coat, but he did not
think it becoming to come so to Jesus. O ! that we were
in as much haste to come to Christ, as Peter was, when he
cast iiimself into the sea to go early to the Saviour.


Chap. xxi. ver. 8 — 17.


8. And the other disciples came in a little ship, (for they were
not far from land, hut 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.

See this, as leading to him, in the provision he has made
for your souls in the scriptures. Look to him, wiio always
stands ready for you with his bread of life.

10. Jesus saith unto them. Bring of the fish which ye have now

That they might feast their eyes with the greatness of
the miracle, and have a foretaste of their success in preach-
ing the gospel. Blessed Jesus I speak this word here.

1 1. 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 not broken.

12. Jesus saith unto tlicm, Come and dine. And none of the

544 ST. JOHN. [chap. XXI.

disciples durst ask him, Who art thou ? knowing that it was the

They were struck dumb with wonder, and an awful
sense of his presence.

13. Jesus then comelh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and
fish likewise.

Is it our great desire and daily prayer, that Jesus should
thus come to ns with a portion of meat for our souls .^

14. This is now the third time that .Tesus shewed himself to his
disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.

Not the third time in all of his showing himself to any
after his resurrection, but to all the apostles, or several of
them together. See chap. xx. 19, 26; 1 Cor. xv. 5 — 7.

15. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon,
son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these ? He saith unto him,
Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him.
Feed my lambs.

Lovest thou me more than these present ? namely
the other disciples. Peter's former zealous professions,
and present behaviour in casting himself into the sea to
come to Jesus, gave occasion for the question. " More
than these," according to some, is, more than his nets and
fishing boat ; that is, more than the gain of his occupation,
— more than the world. I can hardly think the question
was so put to Peter ; with respect to others, it may afford
matter of serious consideration.

" He saith unto him. Yea, Lord ; thou knowest that I
love thee." Let us not mistake; Christ expects this an-
swer from the sheep, as well as the shepherd : O heart !
speak for thyself. " He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.""
My lambs, My sheep. These were purchased with Christ's
own blood, and yet liable to perish for want of their own,
and the shepherd's care. Do not perish ; you need not. If
your shepherd (namely, your minister) should neglect you,
neglect not yourselves. Never forget who is the great
Shepherd and Bishop of your souls, (namely, Jesus Christ,)

VER. 18 25.] ST. JOHN. 545

that he knows all your wants, laid down his life for you,
and will not lose one of you, if you will be found of him.

16. He saith again the second time, Simon, sou of Jonas, lovest
thou me ?He saith unto him. Yea, Lord ; thou knowest that I
love thee. He sailh unto him, Feed my sheep.

17. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas,
lovest thou me ? Peter was grieved, Ijecause he said unto hiin the
third time, Lovest thou me ? and he said unto him. Lord, thou
knowest all things ; thou knowest I love thee. Jesus saith
unto him. Feed my sheep.

Jesus had no doubt of Peter's love, but he must call for
this proof of it, and inculcate the sacred charge to feed his
sheep, old and young, however the repetition of it might
grieve and search his heart. Lord, it is a memorable in-
stance of thy tender compassion for souls, a most awakening
admonition to those who are concerned in feeding them,
and a solemn warning to all of the worth of them .


Chap. xxi. ver. 18—25.

Christ's charge to peter.

18. Verily, verily, I say unto thee. When thou wast young, thou
girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldesl : hut when
thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy liands, and another
shall gird thee, and carry thee wliither thou wouldest not.

When young, thou wast thy own master, and free from
danger, having no world to jjrovoke. Speaking according
to nature, Peter should be carried whither he would not.
In the power of divine grace he was not only willing to die,
but desired to be crucified with his head downward, affirm-
ing that he was unworthy to suffer in the same posture
wherein his Lord had suffered before him.


546 ST. JOHN. [chap. XXI.

19. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify
God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him. Follow

1st. Christ signified by what death he should glorify
God. This might seem but poor encouragement to Peter
to be diligent in his duty, as well as an ill return for his
love to Jesus, But the apostles were taught to call that
glorifying God, which the world would think a bard sei-
vice. That was the happiest death to them which brought
the most glory to God, and most good to men. Let us
learn from them to give glory to him, by a thankful sub-
mission to his will in all things, in life and in death.

"He saith to him, P'ollow me." It is the glory and
great blessedness of us all, to follow him. For this end we
have been reading of him, and we are come to a happy
conclusion of it, if we resolve to take him as our teacher,
and tread in his steps, as God shall enable us : and we be-
lieve on him in vain, if we do not.

20. Then Peter turning about, seeth the disci])]e whom Jesus
loved following ; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and
said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee ?

21. Peter seeing him, saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this
man do ?

22. Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarrytill I come, what
is that to diee ? Follow thou me.

Let us take particular notice of this. Our business is at
home, and our own work is plainly before us ; let us mind
that, without prying too curiously into the will of God
concerning others. The gentle reproof here given to Peter
should keep us all in the right way.

23. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that
disciple should not die; yet Jesus said not unto him. He shall
not die : but. If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to
thee ?

The meaning is that St. John should not die till the
coming of Christ to destroy Jerusalem, and put a final
period to the Jewish economy. This is sometimes called

VER. 18—25.] ST. JOHN. 547

his coming, and was a prelude to his coming to judgment.
The brethren seem to have understood Jesus as if he spake
of the last. In the main, their mistake was harmless ; but
it may be a caution to us to look narrowly to the words of

24. This is the disciple which testifieth of tliese 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 suppoh^e that even the
world itself could not contain the books that should be written.

If so little has been recorded by the Holy Spirit of the
deeds of Jesus, and so many more might have been set
down, that comparatively speaking the world could not
have contained the books that should have been written,
how inexcusable must we be, if we neglect to read and
imderstand the few which he has set down for our instruc-
tion. Lord, do thou open our eyes that we may behold
wonderous things out of thy law. Amen. — Edit.

The MS. of the Rev. T. Adam is dated 1759.





An exposition of the four Gospels,

Princeton Theological Seminary-Speer Library

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Online LibraryThomas AdamAn exposition of the four Gospels (Volume 2) → online text (page 39 of 39)