3057. Following Christ

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No. 3057-53:445. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, May 11, 1873, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, September 12, 1907.

What is that to you? Follow me. {Joh 21:22}

1. Only a moment or two before, our Lord had said to Peter, “Follow me,” yet he found it necessary to repeat that command, from which it is clear that the Lord Jesus himself might be here, and might speak to us in the plainest terms, and yet his words might not make the impression on our hearts that we sometimes think they would. Yet even though Jesus Christ himself should speak to us, we should not feel the full force of his words unless the Spirit of God applied them to our hearts. This reflection may teach us not to indulge in idle regrets that Jesus is not here now in physical presence, or to say, “I wish that I had been living on the earth in Christ’s day.” The fact is, if the Holy Spirit shall bless the word that is spoken to you by the humblest Christian alive, it may be quite as useful to your soul as though the Master himself had been here, and the truth had fallen on your ears directly from his own lips.

2. Peter’s mind seems to have been distracted from the command to follow the Saviour by a very simple incident. “Turning about,” it is said, he saw John following, and the sight of his fellow disciple aroused his curiosity, and he asked the Master the speculative enquiry concerning John’s future, “Lord, and what shall this man do?” To which the Master replied, in the words of my text, “What is that to you? Follow me.” This teaches us that the presence of even the holiest man may sometimes distract us from following our Master. It is certain that thousands of serious impressions have been lost through idle chit-chat after sermons; the Sabbath’s services lose many of their benefits to us through the common habit of talking, on the way home from a place of worship, about anything and everything rather than the one subject that ought to engross our minds. Some of the best people in the world may, involuntarily, turn our minds from that line of thought in which the Saviour would have them run, so let us constantly pray, “Oh Lord, keep our eyes, keep our ears, keep our hearts from wandering away from you; for, if not, we shall soon forget the sound even of your own voice, and the impressions which may have been made on us!” I think we have greater reason to ask the Lord to impress more deeply on us the truth we have received than to ask him to give us more truth; for what we already know might suffice us if we only knew it better; and if we kept in mind the things which we have already heard, we might almost be satisfied even if we heard no more. One sermon a Sunday, really cut into the soul as with the point of a diamond, would be of more real, permanent value to us than two sermons which we hear, but speedily forget, because we happen to meet an acquaintance on our way home, or have our thoughts diverted by some other simple means.

3. Dear friends, do not let our thoughts be diverted at this time, but let us come to the principal point, and stay with it; and that point is this, — that the main business of our life is to follow Jesus; and, secondly, to accomplish this, we had better avoid all idle speculations, — and, indeed, questions not altogether idle had better be left alone so that we may stay focused on the one main business of our life. The reasons for doing this are very clear; and with them I shall close my discourse.

4. I. First, then, THE MAIN BUSINESS OF OUR LIFE IS TO FOLLOW THE LORD.

5. I can truly say to every one of you that the main thing you have to do, in this world, is first to follow Christ until you find him as your Saviour; or, in other words, the first thing for you to do is to look to him, to trust in him. We live in vain if we do not live for God, and if we do not live by faith in Jesus Christ, the one and only Saviour. “Live in vain,” did I say? It would be better for you, dear hearers, and for me, that we had never been born if we should live and die without faith in Jesus Christ. You may neglect your business, you may neglect whatever you wish; but do not neglect your souls. First, first, FIRST, — beyond and before everything else, — must be the matter of your own personal salvation. On board a vessel that is going down, a man may forget his luggage, and many precious treasures that he has with him. It is for his life that he is concerned. Even Satan spoke the truth for once when he said, “Skin for skin, yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.” Let it be so with you in the highest sense. Make your soul your first care, for what shall it profit you if you gain the whole world, and lose your own soul? So the first thing for you to do is to follow Christ for life, for salvation, looking to him by faith, in obedience to the apostolic command, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you shall be saved.”

6. Procrastination often comes in to cause the solemnities of the gospel to seem less serious. “There is plenty of time,” we say. “We are quite young as yet, and we have many years in which to think of these things.” Where the sere and yellow leaf is beginning to fall, there is something else to put away thoughts of eternity. There is another daughter to be married, so a few more hundred pounds must be saved up for her; and then, when you have retired to your country house, you will think about “making your peace with God,” — as if it were nothing to you that you are “condemned already” because you have “not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God”; — and as if it were a matter of no importance to be an enemy of God, and to be unsaved for fifty or sixty years of sin; — as if it were a little thing to have the leprosy of sin still eating into your immortal spirits! Why, if there were no hell, sin should be, to a right-minded man, such a vile thing that he would long to escape from it, and dread it as he now dreads the pains of hell. Oh, that all here had even half such a sense as Christ had of the solemnity of the things of which I am speaking! That would drive us to our knees, and we should not dare to go out of this house unsaved; and all through this building we should hear the cry that arose on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

7. Keeping more closely to my text, I have to say that, after we are saved, the main business of our life is still to follow Christ. When sin is pardoned, and the eternal safety of the soul is ensured, the next thing is to seek the purity of the soul, and to secure a character that shall be worth having throughout eternity. There is no character which is worth having which is not formed according to the character of Christ. He is absolute perfection; in him is nothing redundant, and from him nothing is omitted which ought to be there. To be perfect, we must be like Jesus. “Looking to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith,” we are to conquer this sin, and to overcome that passion; and, in the power of God’s Spirit, to cultivate this tender grace, and that other bolder virtue. The one thing we are to strive for is, to tread in Christ’s footsteps, to do what he did; and, as far as we can imitate him, to do it as he did it, and to be as he was in the midst of the sons and daughters of men. If I am a Christian, I am not to be following Calvin, or Arminius, or any other earthly leader, I am to mould my doctrinal opinions, and my thoughts, and words, and character, and acts, after the model of Christ’s.

8. The same law applies to our entire life-service. If we would do what we were created to do, — if, being trees of God’s planting, we are to bear the fruit he meant us to bear, we must follow Jesus Christ. We are sent into the world, under him, on the great errand of seeking the lost.


   ’Tis all our business here below

   To cry, “Behold the Lamb!” — 


some from the pulpit, but every Christian from some place or other. To each individual believer, Christ has given a position which no one else can occupy so well, and from that position he can influence some other person or people whom God will bless through him. I do not believe that any Christian man was created merely to keep a shop; he was created to serve God in his business. Notwithstanding all man’s sin, a man is such a noble work of God that he cannot have been intended merely to measure off yards of silk, or to weigh pounds of sugar, or to sweep street crossings, or to put on crowns, and robes, and diamonds. There is something grander than that for man to do. The little birds are made to sing God’s praises; and I, who am of more value than many sparrows, must be meant to sing God’s praises too. This is especially true concerning us who profess to have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, and to have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit; our life has an outlook towards the Infinite; there are windows in our life that look towards God. Look out of them, oh Christian! With your windows open towards God, live in the light of his countenance, and seek in all things to please and honour him. It is your life-work to honour God, to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the instrument by which God shall illustrate his almighty power, the black foil from which he shall display the brightness of his grace. You are to be the means of spreading abroad in this world the savour of Christ’s name; but you cannot do this unless you follow Christ.

9. And, notice that, for each one of us there is a special vocation in which we can follow Christ. I do not believe that all of you would be following Christ if you were to attempt to preach. Even Christ never attempted to do what his Father did not intend him to do. A man once asked him to officiate as a lawyer or a judge, but he replied, “Who made me a judge or a divider over you?” One beauty of Christ’s life was that he kept to his calling, and did not go beyond his commission; and you will be wise if you do the same. If you are a servant, you can follow Christ by ministering to the comfort of all who are in the house. If you are a mother, you can follow Christ by training up your children for him. Every man has his own particular calling, and every Christian’s calling should be especially for God. One is called to the foreign mission field; let him go, in God’s name, to the regions beyond; let him not stay at home. Another is called to go from house to house, to visit the sick, to care for the poor, and so on; — Bible woman, City Missionary, I greet you in Christ’s name, and tell you to keep to your own work, and never run away from it. One is called to teach a nursery class, and another to care for the lads or the lasses; and all are prepared for the work to which they are called by God, and to each one the Master says, “Follow me, and keep to the work which my Father has given you to do, even as I did not please myself by selecting my own work, but did what my Father had appointed for me.”

10. II. Now, secondly, IN ORDER TO FOLLOW CHRIST, IT WILL BE A WISE THING TO LEAVE A GREAT MANY OTHER THINGS ALONE.

11. Peter wanted to know about John: “What shall this man do?” But Jesus said, “What is that to you? Follow me.” From this answer of Christ, we learn that we are not to be curious concerning what God is going to do with other people. I will tell you what thoughts have been passing through the minds of some of us. One has said, “I am a poor humble believer in Jesus; I have to struggle with poverty and penury, yet God graciously helps me, and I can relate many examples of his delivering mercy.” Well, dear friend, God is greatly glorified by this testimony; but when you go on to ask about those rich people who have everything that heart can wish for, “What is God going to do with them?” I can only reply, “What is that to you? Follow Christ, and do not be curious about others.” It is equally wrong if a rich man says, “There are those poor people, who are converted, but who cannot give much to the cause of God, and who need education to enable them to teach others, what will the Lord do with them?” That is nothing to do with you, my brother; you have to follow the Lord yourself, and to mind your own business. Someone else says, “There is such and such a man; really, I cannot see any ability in him; he tried to preach the other day, and I was glad when he stopped, for it was very poor talk.” I must confess that I have sometimes felt like that when I have listened to a friend, but I have said to myself, “What is that to me? God knows his own servants better than we do, and he knows where to place them, and how to use them to the best advantage.” Possibly, someone says, concerning a fine orator, “A man who blazes away at that rate thinks too much of himself for God to bless him.” But Christ says, “What is that to you? Follow me.” God has all kinds of stones in his temple; and some of them are of such an odd shape that I am glad the placing of them is not left to me, for I could not do it. I am thankful that God never sent me into the world to make people perfect, but to use them as I find them; and I believe that he also uses them as he finds them, and gradually prepares them for higher uses, and for the place which he intends for them to occupy in his temple above. So do not say, “I am wondering what this man will do, and what that man will do, and what others around me will do”; but do what you can for Christ yourself; and, as for others, leave them to the Master.

12. Further, this rule also applies to the character of others. How much some people are concerned because a certain man is so purse-proud! It seems to be a kind of consolation to them to think how much better they are than he is. Another is very frivolous, and they frequently bring his character into their conversation, apparently as a means of showing how superior in sobriety they are. To every one of that stamp, Christ seems to me to say, “‘What is that to you? Follow me,’ and then the imperfections of your neighbour will not lie so near to your heart.” I have heard of a minister who, wishing to bring the truth home to the hearts and consciences of his people, said that he should like to pass a Reform Act, — that everyone should reform one person, and then all would be reformed. He meant that they should all reform themselves, but one man said, “The minister is quite right; everyone is to reform one, and I am going home to reform our Mary.” That is often our idea, — that we must reform someone else; but if we could bring ourselves to feel that weeding our own garden, and watering our own plants, and fulfilling our own vocation is what God requires of us, how much better it would be for the entire Church of Christ.

13. I think the same rule applies, to a large extent, to remarks concerning the general condition of Christian churches. There are some of my brethren, who assure me that these are the most terrible times through which the world has ever passed; they cannot find any reason for optimism, everything seems to wear to them a most gloomy aspect. It may be so, yet I think I can see much reason for thankfulness as well as much cause for sorrow and regret. We are constantly told that this is a crisis; but I remember that, when I first came to London, twenty years ago, I was told that it was a crisis, and it seems to have been a crisis every few weeks since. Some people appear to imagine that the future of the universe depends on a meeting which they propose to hold in a month or so; yet, so far, God has managed the affairs of the universe without any help from them, and he still reigns as universal King and Lord notwithstanding all the efforts of the Pope, the devil, and Essays and Reviews. {b} I have come to the conclusion that, instead of trying to set all my Master’s servants right at once, my first and most important work is to follow my Lord; and I think, my brother, that it will be wise for you to come to the same conclusion.

14. Suppose a man is sent by his master to plough a field; his main business is to go up and down that field until he has ploughed it all. But suppose that, instead of doing so, he gets into a comfortable corner under the hedge, and tells his fellow ploughman that the whole system of farming adopted by his master is a mistake, that this field is being sown with the wrong kind of seed, that his master does not understand the best manure to use, and that, if he were put in charge, the whole farm would pay much better that it does now. If his master comes while he is talking like this, and asks, “John, what have you been doing?” and he replies, “I have been expounding to William a better plan of farming than you have adopted,” his master will probably say to him, “I shall have to discharge you unless you give up these speculations; get on with your ploughing at once, and leave the management of the farm to me.” And I would say that to many Christians, — Get on with your ploughing; get to your own proper work; teach that class in the Sunday School; speak to sinners about Christ whenever you can, and try to win them for him; and leave those greater and deeper things to your Master. Go on following him with all your heart, and serving him with all your might. He has his special servants whom he calls to great works of reform, those whom he uses as his speaking trumpets to proclaim the truth on the solemn matters with which most of us have not so much to do.

15. The same rule applies to many theological questions. For example, the puzzling problem concerning the origin of evil. I am not so much troubled about how evil came into the world as about helping to get it out. Practical common sense seems to say, “If there is a thief in the house, let us catch him, or else get him out, and after that we will try to find out how he got in.” Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come into the world to tell us how sin was brought here, but he came to show us the only way in which sin can be gotten out of the world, and that is, by the door which he opened in his own side. It is by his death that sin is to be expelled from the earth.

16. Then there is that great and weighty question concerning the relationship between divine sovereignty and human responsibility. You may go to one place of worship, and you will hear about very little except divine sovereignty; and you may go to another place, and there you will hear about little except human responsibility; or you may have heard me preach about both truths without any attempt to “reconcile” them, since I believe that they have never been at enmity against each other, and therefore there is no need for any reconciliation. {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 77, “Divine Sovereignty” 73} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 194, “Human Responsibility” 187} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 207, “Sovereign Grace and Man’s Responsibility” 200} It has been a great temptation for many good men to get fighting about these truths when they would have been better employed in preaching the atoning sacrifice of Christ. I believe that, before the foundation of the world, God chose in Christ all those whom he will eternally save, and I equally believe that whoever believes in the Lord Jesus Christ shall be eternally saved; that salvation is all of grace, and damnation is all of man’s sin; that God will have the glory for every soul that is saved, and that every lost soul will be responsible for its own ruin.

17. I think my text also applies to those prophetic studies in which so many seem to lose their way. I am not much encouraged to follow their example when I see how the students of prophecy denounce each other, and disprove each other’s theories. There are some prophetic truths that ought to be constantly preached, as for example, that the Lord will surely come again, and that there will be a final judgment, when the righteous shall have the full glories of heaven, and the wicked shall know the woes of hell. But as for the dates of the various events foretold in the prophecies that are still unfulfilled, I think I have something better to do than to puzzle my brains over them. “Oh!” some say, “but we have the right theory now.” So others thought twenty years ago, but it did not prove to be right, nor did the theory that was held a hundred years ago, or two hundred years ago, or even more. Yet men go on building up their house of cards of speculation, and Time comes, and pushes it all over with his finger. I advise you to study Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and to preach the crucified Saviour of which the Gospels and Epistles will tell you; and when you get to the Revelation, keep it in its proper place, and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you the meaning of its mysteries. May God save this generation from the follies of some of the generations that have preceded it, and may we be most of all concerned about being born again, about faith in Jesus, about preaching his gospel, and following him all the days of our life!

18. III. Now, lastly, THERE ARE MANY REASONS WHY WE SHOULD CONFINE OUR LIFE-WORK TO THE FOLLOWING OF CHRIST; and those reasons are these.

19. First, our powers are limited. Mine are, I know, and I should like to use what powers I have in the work of following Christ in preaching the gospel, and seeking to bring others to follow him.

20. Next, our time is limited. All of us may live only a very short time, and at the longest it will be only a brief life. I have heard of a minister, who used to say that he should be thankful, in his last hours, that he had been enabled, by God’s grace, to spend the greater part of his time in inviting sinners to the Saviour; and I should like to live — and I should like you, dear brothers and sisters in Christ, to live in such a way that, when we come to die, we may be able to say, “There, that is the kind of life I would like to have lived, now that I am at the end of it.” Suppose anyone should live to fight for the Baptist denomination. When he dies, men would say, “Well, he was a thorough Baptist, and he fought well for his denomination”; but that would be a poor wreath to lay on his coffin. Would you care to have a long Latin inscription on your tombstone recording the fact that you were always hammering away at some important doctrine? Or would you wish to have it said, “There lies a man who charmed a few Christian people with the deep spirituality of his teaching, but that was all he did?” I covet, and I think I am right in doing so, the honour of having it said of me, “That man lived to snatch sinners like brands from the burning.” I hope some of you will have it said when you are gone, “That woman lived to bring her children to Christ. That girl lived to talk to those she met about the dear Saviour who had been so precious to her that she wished all others to enjoy the same blessing.” Oh, that each one of us might live to glorify God; to be like an arrow shot from Christ’s bow by his own pierced hand, to feel an impetus given to us to bear us right on to the centre of the target of the glory of God, nothing turning us aside, either to be thought good, or to be thought great, or to be thought learned, or to desire to gain honour or esteem among our fellow men, but just to glorify God by the conversion of sinners through the Holy Spirit’s blessing resting on our labours!

21. Having very little strength, it is best for us to use it all in one direction. Some men know too much to be powerful for anything. They are like water that is spread over the meadows, and not like the stream that runs along in a narrow channel, and therefore concentrates its energy, and renders real service to mankind. “This one thing I do,” is a good motto for any man, if he does that one thing well; and the one thing that I will seek to do shall be to glorify God by following Jesus, and doing the work he has given me to do. For, my brethren, suppose that you and I should figure out the mystery of predestination, suppose we should become adept in prophecy, suppose we should become very learned in a thousand subjects, and yet should go down to our graves without having ever glorified God, we should find no excuse for our neglect in all that we had done. No one will be lost, so far as I know, through my getting a wrong theory of prophecy, but thousands may be saved if I know the truth concerning Christ and him crucified, and preach him with all my might. I do not know that I shall love the Saviour any the less if I make a mistake about some of the great mysteries of the kingdom; but I do know that, if I give myself up entirely to his service, and am the means of bringing others to do the same, I shall have no regrets compared with those I should have felt if I had neglected this all-important matter. I charge all of you, men and brethren, in these evil days to keep close to Jesus; follow him with the utmost care, and reverence, and love. Follow him with intense ardour, and with all your heart, and soul, and strength, and make that the one thing for which you live. Do not let anything divert you from the straight path of obedience to your Lord, for to that you are called above everything else. If men come to you talking about mental culture and modern thought, stand firm to this, that you will follow Christ wherever he leads you.

22. I wonder what God would have each of us here to do; you may think I am falling into Peter’s error if I press this point on you. I wonder what there is for us to do as a church. Do you think, dear friends, that we are doing all that we ought be do for this neighbourhood? We have heard about what our missionaries have been doing in foreign lands, and most of us have something to do with that; but I think the principal point for us is, — What is to be done in Newington? What is to be done for Christ all around this region? You tract distributors, are you earnestly attending to your work? You Sunday School teachers, are you doing your work for God faithfully? I will not tell you to forget the foreign field; but, still, our first concern must be our own class, our own immediate neighbourhood. Many of you have come from different parts of London; what are you doing for the district where you live? Every Christian man should first seek the good of those nearest to his own door. Some of you have come from the country; what are you doing in your own village? You say that you have been hearing a man of God preach the truth. That is quite right, but is that working for God? There is a young man, over there, who professes to be a follower of Christ, and who often speaks at the debating club. Do you, my friend, never preach in the street, or teach in the Sunday School? Then, I am ashamed of you; or rather, are you not ashamed of yourself? There is a man over there who is making money; I do not say that he is doing wrong; but, my friend, have you ever consecrated to God the part which belongs to him? If you keep it for yourself, it will canker all the rest. I might say to someone here, “You ought to be taking a Bible class for young women.” I might say to others, “You ought to be teaching in the Sunday School. You come here twice on the Lord’s day, but you have no business to come here twice; you ought, once at least, to go to work for Christ.” I am pleased with some, whose consciences prick them so that they say, “Dear Pastor, do not imagine that we are forsaking you; we should be glad to be here, but we have been down at the lodging-houses, or down in Golden Lane, or over at Bethnal Green.” That is right, and I am glad when I see someone else in their seats. With four or five thousand members in the church, if they all come here at each service, where are our converts to come from? Am I to cast the gospel net into the midst of the fish that are already caught? If you stay away to let a sinner come here in your place, and if you are yourself seeking to bring sinners to Christ, you are doing two good things. I want every one of you to be living to do good to your fellow men, and seeking to save souls for the glory of God. The enemies of the faith are very busy and very earnest; and they seem to use up all their material. The moment a man gets into the Church of Rome, there is sure to be something found for him to do, and I want to see all of you used to the utmost of your power. You are free men and women, and therefore not to be controlled by me. I do not prescribe what you are to do; but can you not, as independent men and women, obey the sacred dictates of the Spirit of God, and each of you drop into your proper place?

23. Give up all speculating, I beseech you, — give up reading books merely for the sake of curiosity, and, in God’s name, get to work for him. The graves are filling, our cemeteries are filling, and hell is filling too. Meanwhile, the myrmidons {c} of Satan are encompassing land and sea to do all the mischief that they can, if you really are what you say you are, the servant of him who wept over Jerusalem, if you are bought with the blood he shed on Calvary’s cross, I charge you to consecrate yourself, this very hour, to that form of Christian work to which your Master calls you, and follow him through evil report, and good report. Follow him in the path of duty, and let nothing turn you aside from your life-work of glorifying God.

24. May God bless you all, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.


{a} Sermons on following Christ: —  {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 403, “The Broken Column” 394} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1530, “Following the Risen Christ” 1530} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2273, “Fickle Followers” 2274} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2324, “The Followers of the Lamb” 2325} {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 3057, “Following Christ” 3058}
{b} Essays and Reviews: A book published in March 1860, is a Broad-Church volume of seven essays on Christianity. The topics covered the biblical research of the German critics, the evidence for Christianity, religious thought in England, and the cosmology of Genesis. See Explorer "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essays_and_Reviews"
{c} Myrmidon: An unscrupulously faithful follower or hireling; a hired ruffian; a base attendant. OED.

Exposition By C. H. Spurgeon {Joh 21}

1. After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and in this way he showed himself.

Jesus loved to show himself to his people. Of old, his delights were with the sons of men; so, now that he had risen from the dead, he was not ashamed to visit his brethren, and he did not disdain to make himself known to them, and he will still show himself to us in a spiritual manner, if we sincerely desire to see him.

2. Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples were together.

Since John was the writer of this record, he did not put his own name there, but merely mentioned “the sons of Zebedee.”

3. Simon Peter says to them, “I am going fishing.” They say to him, “We are going with you also.”

Men who are in a right state of heart cannot willingly be idle; so, if these disciples cannot preach for a time, they will go back to their old employment, and seek to catch fish.

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

Brethren, without Christ’s presence, that is what always happens: “they caught nothing.” But notice what the next verse says: — 

4. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.

We must remember that a great change had taken place in him, and that the disciples were at some distance from the shore. They saw a person standing there, but they were not sure who it was.

5. Then Jesus says to them, “Children, do you have any food?”

This is not an exact translation of our Saviour’s words; he might too readily have revealed his identity if he had spoken like that. His question was more like a common fisherman’s greeting, “Lads, have you any food?”

5. They answered him, “No.”

Jesus likes us to admit that we do not possess anything of our own before he gives us the blessing he is waiting to bestow. He lets us see that the table is bare before he loads it with his bounty, so that he may have all the praise and glory for what he gives us.

6. And he said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you shall find.” They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes.

This is another proof of the difference between Christ’s presence and Christ’s absence.

7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved (again John does not mention his own name,) says to Peter, “It is the Lord.”

“It is only he who could find the fish, and only he who could fill the net with them; it is just his way of acting, ‘It is the Lord.’”

The eyes of true love are very keen. Peter was not the first to recognise Jesus; John was, for he loved him most.

7. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his fisherman’s coat, (for he was naked,) and cast himself into the sea.

He had such reverence for his Master that he would not appear before him without a sufficient covering, yet he was in a hurry to get to him. Peter always was in a hurry; yet he was grandly impetuous as a rule. I wish that some “slow coaches” had a little of his pace.

8, 9. And the other disciples came in a little boat; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fish. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid on it, and bread.

How that fire must have reminded Peter of his denial of his Lord! He saw his Master by the light of the charcoal fire, and that is how he saw him on the night when he denied him.

10, 11. Jesus says to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.” Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three: and although there were so many, the net was not broken.

On the previous occasion when Peter’s net was miraculously filled by Christ, we read that the net broke. That was Peter’s own net, but this time I suppose it was not Peter’s, but one that he had borrowed, and probably he had no time to mend it, so the Master took care that it should not break. He always has his own ways of working, and they always fit the circumstances of the case, and show his thoughtful care for his people.

12. Jesus says to them, “Come and dine.”

The English Revised Version is more correct: “Come and break your fast,” — “Come and have your breakfast.” {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2072, “Breakfast with Jesus” 2073}

12-15. And none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then comes, and takes bread, and gives them, and fish likewise. This is now the third time that Jesus showed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. So when they had dined, — 

When they had broken their fast, — but not until then, for Christ does not talk to men when their hunger might make them inattentive, — 

15. Jesus says to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me more than these?”

He had talked as if he did: “Although all shall be offended, yet I will not.”

15. He says to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.”

He was wise in not measuring his love in comparison with that of his fellow disciples, or in speaking of the quantity of it, but he affirmed that even Christ knew that he did really love him.

15-17. He says to him, “Feed my lambs.” He says to him again the second time, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?” He says to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He says to him, “Feed my sheep.” He says to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonas, do you love me?”

Here is a lesson for all who would be pastors of Christ’s flock. The first requirement for a true pastor is love for Christ, the second requirement for a true pastor is love for Christ, and the third requirement for a true pastor is love for Christ. A man who does not love the great Shepherd cannot properly feed either his sheep or lambs. If his own heart is not right towards the divine Owner of the sheep, he cannot be a true under-shepherd to Christ’s flock.

17-19. Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus says to him, “Feed my sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, ‘When you were young, you girded yourself, and walked wherever you wished: but when you shall be old, you shall stretch out your hands, and another shall gird you, and carry you where you do not wish.’” This he spoke, indicating by what death he should glorify God.

Peter was to stretch out his hands, and be nailed to a cross, as his Lord was.

19. And when he had spoken this, he says to him, “Follow me.”

“That is to be your rule, whether you feed my sheep or lambs, or whether you stretch out your hands on a cross, and die as a martyr, — ‘Follow me.’” That is also the rule for all of us who love the Lord. Oh Lord, help us to obey it!

20-25. Then Peter, turning around, sees the disciple whom Jesus loved following; who also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, “Lord, who is he who betrays you?” Peter seeing him says to Jesus, “Lord, and what shall this man do?” Jesus says to him, “If I wish that he live until I come, what is that to you? Follow me.” Then this saying went abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus did not say to him, “He shall not die”; but, “If I wish that he lives until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which, if every one should be written, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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