Come and Dine 2016
By Fred Pruitt
(This is one of my personal favorites. Maybe because the issues are so personal with me. May you be as blessed reading it as I was writing it.)
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise showed he himself. 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. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.
But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.
Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 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.
As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 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.
Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise. (John 21:1-11)
Jesus Appears Again
What comes immediately to mind, after reading this story again, is the mention in every gospel of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances, how they “knew” He was the Lord, even though … what? Almost every time Jesus suddenly shows up they do not immediately recognize Him. They have to “get it,” that this is Jesus.
Why? If He had simply been the same ol’ Jesus they had known and walked with for those years, wouldn’t they have immediately recognized Him? But they do not know Him right away. Something has to “trigger” their recognition of Him.
One asks, is there something about His physical appearance that has changed? No, He has risen in body (the same body resurrected), and the body is still flesh – or is it? It seems like “flesh” because he eats in front of them; they can touch Him, feel Him physically; they have conversations. And yet, He can seemingly appear and disappear at will.
There is something about His flesh that has changed. In appearance it is as our flesh, but the picture presented in Jesus’ resurrected flesh, is our flesh not as we know it now, but as we know it in resurrection. Jesus’ resurrected “body” had a Paradisiacal quality to it. It was in this world, in the garb of this world, for the sake of this world, but not of this world, but of heaven that has now swallowed up the mortal into immortality, time into the Eternal. As Paul said, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed … for this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Cor 15: 51, 53).
Jesus, the Second Adam, takes on the First Adam’s body from His mother Mary, and in that body raises the First Adam into the Second, so that He is now Adam (Man) Triumphant, born of water and the Spirit, living out of Paradise, inseminating the earth with Divine Seed, visible not after the fashion of this world, but after the fashion of the Eternal.
It is of note that only believers saw Him. There is no record of His appearance, or recognition, by anyone who did not already know Him and believed Him. He reveals Himself to whomsoever He wishes, yet is not even a shadow to those whose vision has not allowed Him.
This is the last recorded appearance of Jesus before His Ascension in the gospels. So true to John, it is recorded nowhere else.
It is very interesting what has happened here. In the beginning of the story, one has the sense (I do, anyway) that “going a fishing” is a little out of desperation. When Jesus had called them in the first place, they had all put down their nets. They were done with that.
Indications are at least some of them even had families. Yet they had left all to follow Him. For the next three years, they witnessed miracle after miracle, heard the wisdom of God from the Word Himself, and lived every day on the miraculous provisions of God always sustaining them for whatever they needed. Other than their knowledge of Who He was, the other main thing Jesus drilled them on every day was, “Be not afraid, only believe.” “O ye of little faith, why did you doubt?” “Remember not the loaves and the fishes and the baskets left over?” “Why do you not believe?”
Truth be told they could not believe and He knew it. However, He also knew that after He left the Holy Spirit would come into them and bring all things to their remembrance. He was only to say it, even though right on up to the Cross and the Resurrection and afterward, still they could not really believe it, and still saw things as men see things. They were still double-minded, still self-focused, still quaked with fear at what man could do to them. As Jesus truly said of them in the garden, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
For two thousand years that has been an excuse to not take on full identification with Christ, because of the “weakness” of the flesh. The bulk of the church of Christ has camped out for 2000 years in the perpetual dog-eat-dog flesh vs. spirit battle of Romans 7, believing all the while in the deceptively greater power of the “weak flesh,” to keep us from the “unattainable goal” of the fullness of the Spirit life, so that “we cannot do the things that we would.”
This is the main “sickness” that cripples the church of Christ today! We do not know Who we really are, and identify ourselves with “weak flesh,” ignorantly in unbelief of the completion already ours! We have ALL the resources of God at our fingertips, yet remain in sin consciousness and ignorance of the full adequacy of Christ in us NOW, and according to our faith (in the “weak flesh” rather than Christ within), we have our half-effective, half-righteous/half-sinful life of struggle and continual defeat.
However, since Jesus walked in the same flesh as Peter and us also, while He was doing the works of the Father, the “weak flesh” was not the problem. It was rather, for them as for us, inner consciousness – spirit-consciousness! It was something Jesus the Son of Man could not produce in them. Inner consciousness is the domain of the Spirit, and Jesus continually pointed them to the Spirit, but it was impossible for them to comprehend it before Pentecost.
Peter’s fleshly bravado to stand with Jesus all the way to death sputtered and fizzled out on its first challenge. Jesus knew that, of course, and He also knew it was for the making of Peter. Peter thought Peter could do it. He found out to his great embarrassment that he wasn’t really all he thought he was. No matter the amount of love or dedication he believed he had, it simply was not enough. This was Peter’s Romans 7. “The good I would, I do not; the evil I would not, that I do.”
“’I know you, you’re with the Galilean!’ – ‘No, you’re mistaken, I do not know the man.’”
On the Day of Pentecost, Another entered Peter and he was from then on a much different Peter! In the filling of the Spirit that day, the Holy Spirit entered the inner consciousness of man, where Jesus of Nazareth could not penetrate. For the previous three years, Jesus had given them everything in HIS consciousness, and now the Spirit had come to bring it into Life in them, by bringing all things to their remembrance that Jesus had told them. Jesus had told them that the Spirit had always been “with” them, but when the Promise of the Father came, He would be “in” them.
What can that mean? The Spirit was always “in” them, as He is always everywhere “in” everything. It is not about physical location, but rather consciousness. It is about separated consciousness. To the disciples and indeed to all the Jews, God was someone who was most definitely separate from them, and “worshipped” from that separation.
Nevertheless, there were many incidents in the gospels that they “perceived” because they had “heard” God speak, as Jesus told Peter when he confessed Jesus as the Christ: “Flesh and blood has not revealed this unto you, but My Father in heaven.”
Therefore, they were already “hearing” the Holy Spirit and walking with His Presence in a separated way, much like we do in our early days. That was what Jesus meant regarding the disciples, when He told them, “He is with you.” He is talking about closing the gap in their inner consciousness and bringing them in “consciousness” that the Spirit was not separated from them, but instead He became inside them the inner life of Christ, producing the same “oneness” with the Father in them, that Jesus had lived before them. This was the immediate fulfillment of Jesus’ famous John 17 prayer (Jn 17:11, 20-23). They became “one” with God in inner consciousness on the Day of Pentecost!
What a time it must have been! Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, their hearts must have burned within them, as the precious nuggets of gold Jesus had given them over the years, that had lain there in a pile through the dim years of their understandings, begin to be revealed within them one by one. Now the Inner Revealer has come, and one by one, their minds begin to comprehend the heights, the depths, the breadth, of This Treasure that they now knew to be their own.
However, that had not happened yet in this story on the beach. The men have toiled all night, and caught nothing. Had this not happened before, in the very beginning? See Luke 5: 1-10. But now, there is one big difference. In the beginning, their nets broke, and when two boats tried together to pull in the catch brought by Jesus’ word, both boats almost sank. This time, as in the beginning, at Jesus’ Word, they cast their nets. Both times the nets are immediately full. However, this last time, the nets do not break. The boat does not list or sink. They bring in their catch intact, a huge catch for them – 153 fish!
Nevertheless, when they get to the shore, we see Jesus did not need their catch to prepare the meal. Fish and bread are already set before them. Still He says to them, “Bring of the fish which you have caught.”
All He said then was, “Come and dine.” Then He gave them fish and bread.
This story is a sort of graduation for the disciples. As always, Jesus is making a point to them. It may have been that they went back to fishing, because they did not know how they were going to continue. It is obvious that during those three years with Jesus, they had no needs. There were crowds. There were people who were continually bringing gifts. Judas carried the purse and was called the treasurer, so it is obvious people were also supporting them with their money.
But now that Jesus has died so ingloriously, the multitudes have dispersed. Only a week before the crucifixion the crowds had been praising Him and waving palm fronds as He rode into Jerusalem on the donkey, shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” However, Jesus did not prove to be the long-awaited Messiah to the multitudes. No true Messiah would have been crucified – the most horrible death for a Jew, because it is execution by “hanging from a tree,” and under Moses a man was cursed if he died that way.
Jesus, therefore, was “cursed” by being “numbered among the transgressors” at Calvary, and all the “support” the crowds had been providing dried up as well. With the movement’s “leader” dead, as far as the multitudes were concerned, it was a dead movement. They thought they had seen a great Light and had thought He might be the Chosen One, but that was totally disproved in their eyes by His death on the Cross.
So not only were the disciples personally undone by the death of Jesus, and even post-resurrection still cannot see what lies ahead, it may also have been that they were broke as well. No more money in the coffer. The purse, which Judas carried, was empty!
What do we do when the plan we have made fails utterly? If we cannot press on forward, we often fall back on what held us up before we entered the new venture. Peter, Andrew, James and John earned their living, i.e., money, by fishing before Jesus came along. Therefore, it seems only natural for them to think, “We know we have to go on. How can we get the funds? Oh, let us go fishing. We should be able to make some money that way!”
This is the scene Jesus steps into. Moreover, like the first time, they had toiled all night and had caught nothing. And again like the first time, He tells them to cast the nets again at His Word. Both times they do and the nets fill immediately, but as we said above, in the beginning, their net broke. After that first instance, Jesus calls them from their fishing boats and says, “Follow me, from now on you will catch men!” (Lk 5:10).
That scene was three years before the current scene, repeated almost exactly, except for the outcome. That is the reason why this is something of a graduation ceremony.
The fact that they are now able to receive such a catch and the net not break, is proof of this pudding Jesus is serving. First, He reminds them, after their fruitless night of fishing in self-effort, trying to raise the provisions for the work or for their own sustenance, that HE is their Provider! There is no need now to toil all night and catch nothing. It is useless toil. For them, they only need go out when the Word comes and tells them. When they go out when He (by the Spirit) tells them, they will catch His catch He already had there waiting for them.
This is VITAL information for one trained to “catch men.” It is not just “beating the bushes” to see what comes up. It is not “visitation night” where we visit folks because that’s what our church does to get people into or back to church, or “evangelism day” where we go out en masse to “witness” in the park.
It is not a game of “numbers.” That’s sales talk. I used to be in sales, so I know. In sales, if one calls on enough people, a certain percentage of those people will buy your product. Sales pros know this, so they’re putting out seeds willy-nilly everywhere, waiting for some of them to sprout. I used to try everything in the sales arsenal: cold calling (always the scariest); door-to-door (when it used to be legal); direct mail (expecting a return of maybe 1 – 10% to respond, and then about the same percentage of responders to buy); handing out business cards by the case; phone sales, etc. It was hard work dredging up prospects!
But we are not in “sales.” God tells us where to go and when. It may be for one person or it may be for 5000. How many is not what interests us or what drives us. It is simply realizing in the “rest of God,” that we do not need to spin our wheels in “toiling all night and catching nothing,” or play “numbers games,” but rather to wait on the Spirit, for He will bring us to the places and people He has already prepared! And He will do it at the right time!
Condemnation (the devil) tells us we have to be busy all the time in the “work” of the Lord. So we involve ourselves in all sorts of “godly” activities, the more the better. Keep busy is our motto! The seasoned man of God knows that “doing nothing” is sometimes what is called for, and no matter what, whether man or devil comes against him, he does not move until the Spirit says, “GO!.”
That is the first lesson – letting down the net when and where the Word says!
The second lesson is also vital for one who has been made a “fisher of men.” (Remember, we do not “make ourselves,” fishers. It was His word that said, “Follow me, and I WILL MAKE YOU fishers of men! [Mt 4:19]) The lesson has to do with their net, which now does not break!
Again, this is a graduation point. What does it mean that their net does not break? Looking back into the gospels, Jesus sent the twelve and many others on “practice missions” to preach the Word around Galilee. Did they gain disciples? Did they bring back followers? Their testimony from their missions was that they cast out demons, healed the sick, etc., but the gospel accounts leave out any “results” other than that.
Jesus is telling them by the big catch and the unbreakable net, what He had told them only recently before His Passion. “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)
Not only is Jesus telling them they are going to catch a great catch, but that now their “catch” will remain! “You shall bear fruit unto God!” Not the fruit of “character,” (fruit of the Spirit) but the fruit of the Sower, who not only plants the seeds, but keeps them alive and harvests them when they are ready!
Having discovered through their dissembling at Jesus’ arrest and trial that they did not have the stuff to do it in themselves, Jesus is now telling them that when the Spirit comes, they will know themselves as, “able ministers of the New Testament.” (2 Cor 3:4-6). Having learned thoroughly when and where to cast the nets, (at His Word), they now know the keeping of the catch is His realm also, and that HE WILL DO IT! Their “catch” (fruit) shall remain! No more ineffectiveness. No more spinning wheels. No more getting a crowd together but not being able to feed them once you’ve got them! (I’ve been in all those places and it isn’t fun!)
By this living parable, Jesus is saying to them, “I have done what I promised. I have made you fishers of men. I have by example taught you how to live by the Spirit, by the Father that dwells in me, Who does the works. I told you would bear fruit and it would remain, and by these fish caught inescapably in your net I have demonstrated it to you. You are now ready for the work to which I have called you!”
Then there is one last lesson. The boat and the net were about the “work.” The already prepared meal is about “them.”
Another principle Jesus told them at the beginning, was to “seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Mt 6:33) What things?
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say unto you, take no thought for your life … “ (Mt 6:24, 25). We are to no longer concern ourselves with our own sustenance, how we are provided for. The questions, “Where will we stay?” “What will we eat?” What clothes will we have to wear?” are no longer to be our major concern. “That’s what the Gentiles seek,” He told them. It is the way and concern of the world.
However, in this new life, in which we find ourselves “able ministers of the New Testament,” Jesus is demonstrating to the disciples that they are living out of His continual and sufficient provisions for them in every aspect of life. If they need food, it will appear. If they need clothes, they are provided. A place to stay? It will turn up. Money? Go get some out of a fish’s mouth! It was NEVER His concern where the funds or provisions came from. The One Who sent Him out provided for Him just as He does for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. He “took no thought” about it, and it rained in abundance for everything He needed every moment.
And now Jesus is telling the disciples this again, by providing them a hot meal after their night of toil. Interestingly, He does not need their fish to cook the meal. He says, “Bring me of the fish you have caught,” but the meal is already laid out. What does this mean?
It means that the provision ALWAYS comes from Him, and not from the catch! O that churches and ministries would see this! We do not seek the physical goods of others for our support! God forbid! No, it is God ALONE Who provides!
He said, “Freely give, as you have freely received.” It means we go at NO COST to those to whom we are sent. We don’t do this for money! If we look to the “catch” for our supper, it may be we find we are serving mammon instead of God!!!! How often have I heard in the “church world” among pastors that, “congregants mean money.” The more folks you have in your church, the more money you have at your disposal. Can’t build a giant mega-building with only a few folks (unless you have Sam Walton among them), you have to have a whole bunch! So first you’ve got to “grow” your church. Jesus’ Word in the Sermon on the Mount then changes to, “Seek ye first to have a great deal of members in your church, and then you shall have gymnasiums and auditoriums, overhead projectors and state-of-the-art media!”
That’s for that world, and I wish them the best in it. However, for these poor, unlettered, uneducated fishermen, the lesson was simple. When the Spirit says, go out and fish and catch. Don’t worry about yourselves, because I am your complete sufficiency for everything every moment of every day! Seek nothing from man, for man is fickle and loves you one day and does not the next. But God is certain! His Word is certain, and His Provision, which comes by decree out of Heaven into our earth, is CERTAIN!
I have not mentioned the three “stages” of Christian life in this – little children, young men and fathers – but this is exactly in agreement with that. The disciples had had their baby and young man stages with Jesus in their three training years. Now, He is saying, you are fathers! You know where your provision comes from. You know how and when to fish, and how to pull them in. When you pull them in, they do not escape! You are no longer bothered about your own self-needs, but about those of others. So you are able to forget yourself and your own situation, because you KNOW God has that covered. Then that frees you to be completely poured out for others, to “spend and be spent” with no self-concern about running out of steam, getting “burned out,” or any other self-concern.
And here we come to the “rest.” “Take my yoke upon you … and learn of Me, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Of course, this is not a “do-nothing” life. We are more involved, more busy perhaps, when we get to this stage, than possibly ever before. However, something has greatly changed. In our earlier days, when we thought the onus of the burden to “get out there and do something for God,” was on “our shoulders” (“helped” by God, of course), we could never measure up. We could never do enough, be enough or accomplish enough. But in shedding ourselves of our unbearable “self-yoke,” (through coming into the Hebrews 4 “rest for the people of God”), we find our “work” to be coming out of the “rest” within us! It is not flesh-effort! The “works of God” just flow naturally out of us because we have discovered a river of living water flowing out of the very center of our being, watering all the landscape around us! It comes not from the efforts of man but from the ease of faith! There is no reason to “try” to be Who we already are! Just relax and be it, and His Word flows out and accomplishes “that whereto He sends it.”
We have come into that place Jesus described in one of the parables: “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.” (Luke 12:37 KJV)
This was Jesus’ point all those times “healing” on the Sabbath. Why did He do that so often, knowing how it always offended the Pharisees? In every way they could think of, He broke the Sabbath.
The problem with the Pharisees was that they had no real idea what the Sabbath really is. Jesus knew, and that is why He worked out of it. The Sabbath is not simply an earth day, one in seven where we acknowledge God and rest our bodies for the coming week of labor, but rather a continuous Divine Center that is at the heart of us every moment. No matter the swirls and contentions and the problems of daily living, we are living in inner rest and inner peace that cannot be touched by the ups and downs of the temporal world. We are now dwelling out of the Eternal, in the Spirit, and we have come to know it, so that we “work” out of a continuous consciousness of rest within that is impervious to the arrows of the devil or the contention of man. We inwardly live in a continuous Sabbath-rest! As Jacob Boehme said, “A true Christian has no sect. Every day is Sunday to him, and he has his priest and his sacrament within him.” And we can testify to the truth of this!
I’ll close with one of my favorite Norman stories. Norman was enjoying a wonderful dinner one night, served by the hostess where he was staying. She noticed Norman gobbling up everything, not shying away from bread or cakes or any concern about “healthy eating.”
So she asked him, “Norman, do you watch your diet?”
“No, my dear,” Norman replied, “I don’t worry about that at all. I eat whatever is put before me. I take care of God’s business and He takes care of mine.” (Norman lived until just shy of his 98th birthday!)
All He is saying to us is, “Come and dine.”