The Lord spoke to the multitudes one way and to His disciples another. What was the difference in the two forms of teaching?
Obviously Jesus gave the disciples more details. But what did these details relate to? The answer is that the Lord spent additional time with the disciples to explain the deeper meaning of His parables and how all the stories of Scripture contained deeper truths.
This is highlighted by the Lord’s taking several disciples to a mountaintop, where they briefly saw Him transfigured and conversing with Moses and Elias, and also by the special conversation the Lord had with His disciples along the journey to Emmaus.
When the His disciples asked the Lord why He spoke in parables, His reply was “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven . . .” (Matt. 13:11)
In other words, the Lord attempted to teach His disciples about the symbolism and inner depth of Scripture. Concerning this deeper knowledge of faith, the Lord told them, “For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Matt. 13:17)
There are also references in Scripture indicating that even the disciples did not understand everything they were being told. These things included such paradoxes as the conflicting statements about the Lord’s return “And then shall they see the son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:27) compared with “The kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20).
In fact, to add even greater confusion concerning the details of Lord’s return He also told His disciples that “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” (John 16:12)
What could the human mind not bear – especially if it concerns the good news of the Lord returning to reprove the world of sin? The answer can be summed up best by Walt Kelly’s comic strip character Pogo, who said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”
The big revelation within Revelation is that Armageddon, which takes place at the time of the Second Coming, symbolizes the denial and resistance that WE each put up to keep the Lord and His commandments out of our lives. The Great Red Dragon is not an over-sized reptile. It is a belief-system that falsifies God’s truth – such as the monstrous doctrine of salvation by faith alone!
One of the big purposes of my blog (besides unifying science and theology) is to find ways of demonstrating the reality of deeper meanings within the narratives of the Holy Word.
Are you a parable-pooper?
If so, why?
Why would you think a God of Infinite Wisdom is incapable of such a thing? How can the Word be God (John 1:1-3) if it is anything less than God’s Infinite Wisdom? The only way a finite book can contain Infinite Wisdom is if its words and stories contain multi-layered meanings. Having access to some of these levels would indeed show us the true glory of God!
SETTLE IN YOUR HEARTS
A Sermon by Rev. Donald L. Rose
Preached in Bryn Athyn June 25, 1995
“Settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist” (Luke 21:14,15).
The Lord said these things to followers who were later persecuted and brought before councils. Their accusers thought by confronting them they could weaken the cause of Christianity. But it turned out differently. Those confrontations became opportunities for the strengthening and growth of Christianity.
The boldness and eloquence of the disciples, although they were just fishermen, was nothing short of astonishing. Of one outspoken disciple it is said, “And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 6: 10). In the 4th chapter of Acts we read of two disciples who were confronted: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled” (Acts 4:13). (King James Version says “unlearned and ignorant men.”) They had a boldness and assurance, and their answers were powerful.
They were somehow triumphant even when they were beaten and imprisoned, and in some cases put to death (see Luke 21:16). We will mention one example of that in a moment.
The text applies of course to us and, we might say, in a much less dramatic fashion. We will not likely be brought before courts and kings nor openly challenged and assailed by enemies.
But we do stand to be attacked by the enemies of our spiritual life. And the more we learn about the assaults of evil spirits on followers of the Lord, the more do we see that it too is dramatic and momentous. Falsities from hell itself assail the person who is being tempted, and the Writings say that to every falsity the hells inject, there is an answer from the Divine.
What we experience in temptation is anxiety, discouragement even to despair. We do not know that evil spirits from hell are fighting against us, nor do we know that the Lord is fighting for us, and the answers from the Divine to the false accusations and undermining thoughts do not come clearly to our consciousness. Here is what the Writings say: “As regards temptations … the hells fight against man, and the Lord for man; to every falsity the hells inject, there is an answer from the Divine …. The answer from the Divine flows into the internal or spiritual man … and in such a manner that it scarcely comes to the perception otherwise than as hope and consequent consolation, in which there are nevertheless innumerable things of which the man is ignorant” (AC 8159:3). (In that answer which we feel only as hope and comfort there are countless blessings that the person has no knowledge of” – new translation.)
Here is the context of the words of the text: “… they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and rulers for My name’s sake. But it will turn out for you an occasion for testimony. Therefore settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer; for I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries will not be able to contradict or resist. … [N]ot a hair of your head shall be lost. In your patience possess your souls” (Luke 21:12-19).
The very first Christian to die for his beliefs found that the confrontation was indeed an occasion for testimony. He was falsely accused and brought before a council to answer. His eloquent speech takes up the whole of the 7th chapter of the book of Acts. It is said, “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. … [T]hey cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord and they cast them out of the city and stoned him” (Acts 7:54,57).
That speech which so affected them had begun thus: “… brethren … listen: the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham” and he told the story through Jacob, Joseph, Moses and Solomon, and when he was finished he gazed up into heaven and saw the glory of God. And as they rained stones on him he said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit’ and ‘Lord, do not charge them with this sin.’ And when he had said this he fell asleep” (Acts 7:2,59,60). It is said that those who looked at him “saw his face as the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15).
A radiant peace surrounded him. The Lord had promised that nothing would harm them. They were at peace even in death.
“Settle it in your hearts not to meditate beforehand on what you will answer.” Think deliberately about the future, and think of how not to think of the future. In one of the Lord’s parables a man is called foolish because he did not think ahead intelligently. “Foolish one, tonight your soul will be required of you, and then whose will those things be which you have provided?”
Oh, he had thought and meditated within himself about the future. But what was the level of his thinking? To quote the Gospel: “And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do? … I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater … And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years …” (Luke 12:17-21).
He could look down the road years ahead. He could figure out what he was going to do, and what he was going to say, and God called him a fool. How does our future look to us? How much strength and endurance do you have for what lies in store for you? Can you handle what is yet to come? Do you have the wit? Will you have the wit to respond to what may come to pass?
We live in the illusion that our strength, our intelligence, our very life is from ourselves. How big is our reservoir of energy or endurance or prudence? Since it seems that life is our own, we think in terms of calling on our reserves. Once the disciples set off in a boat on a journey with the Lord. And it had slipped their mind that they should have stored some provision. To quote from the Gospel of Mark, “Now the disciples had forgotten to take bread, and they did not have more than one loaf with them in the boat” (8:14). That was what was on their mind, and the Lord said to them, “Why do you reason because you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive nor understand? … do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments did you take up? How is it that you do not understand?”
He got them to answer the question, and He could ask them on a much later occasion, “When I sent you without money bag, sack and sandals, did you lack anything? So they answered, Nothing” (Luke 22:35). Think of the uncertain times of youth that you have passed through. You made it through your teens. Has the Lord kept you safe thus far? Has He provided?
It is too bad that some people have concluded that it is virtuous not to make provision for the future. It’s understandable. The Lord has given us the message that He will provide. Seek the kingdom of God, and these things will be added to you. But the Writings say this does not mean we should not provide ourselves with food, clothing, “and even resources for the time to come; for it is not contrary to order for anyone to be provident for himself and his own.” The new translation speaks of “resources for the future; for it is not contrary to order to make provision for oneself and one’s dependents” (J. Elliott’s translation).
But there is the matter of putting trust in the Divine. Notice the verb tribuo, something you do. It is translated to “attribute” or to “ascribe.” See how it is used in this teaching about charity in a person engaged in business. “He thinks of the morrow, and yet does not think of it. He thinks of what should be done on the morrow, and how it should be done; and yet does not think of the morrow, because he ascribes the future to the Divine Providence and not to his own prudence.” And then it adds, “Even his prudence he ascribes to the Divine Providence” (Charity 167).
Does that fortunate person who ascribes the future to the Divine just do this at one point in life? Or is it not something to be done deliberately through the progressing stages of life?
Settle it in your hearts. Deliberately ascribe the future to the Lord’s Providence, and do so, if you can, until you can feel a sense of relief as if someone had removed a false burden from you.
Do not think of this merely as “either/or,” as if to say, either you trust in Divine Providence or you do not. It can be a quantitative thing. Some attribute a little bit to the Divine Providence and a lot to themselves (see AC 2694:2). The Writings use the phrase “the more”: the more they ascribe, the stronger or wiser they are (see AC 4932). In our lives we gradually come to ascribe more to the Lord and less to ourselves (see TCR 610 and 105).
The disciples were to learn that peace, the wonderful prize of peace, is to be found in the Lord Himself. He said, “These things I have spoken to you that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer. I have overcome the world” (Luke 16e). En to cosmo thlipsin exete alla tharsete – In the world you will have affliction, trouble, but take heart. Have courage. I have defeated. I have conquered. I have overcome the world.
Our picture of the future can become less a matter of speculation and worry and more and more a picture of the Lord as one in whom to confide and one who grants peace. Peace has in it confidence in the Lord that He will provide, and that He leads to a good end. “When someone is in this faith, he is in peace, for he then fears nothing and no solicitude about future things disquiets him” (AC 8455).
We sometimes say that the future looks dark. And the unknown is a kind of darkness. But when we ascribe the future to the Lord, we may say at any time in history or at any stage of our life, that the future has light in it, being in the hands of Him who is the light of the world.
Settle it in your hearts anew today. Ascribe the future to the Lord. And He will give you what to think and do, and He will give you peace. Amen.
Lessons: Matt. 10:16-31, DP 179, AC 2493
Divine Providence 179
As a foreknowledge of future events destroys the human itself, which is to act from freedom according to reason, therefore it is not granted to anyone to know the future; but everyone is permitted to form conclusions concerning future events from the reason; hence reason with all that pertains to it enters into man’s life. It is on this account that a man does not know his lot after death, or know of any event before he is involved in it. For if he knew this, he would no longer think from his interior self how he should act or how he should live in order to meet the event, but he would only think from his exterior self that he was meeting it. Now this state closes the interiors of his mind in which the two faculties of his life, liberty and rationality, especially reside. A longing to know the future is innate with most people, but this longing derives its origin from the love of evil. It is therefore taken away from those who believe in the Divine Providence, and there is given them a trust that the Lord is disposing their lot. Consequently they do not desire to know it beforehand lest they should in any way set themselves against the Divine Providence. This the Lord teaches by many passages in Luke (12:14-48).
That this is a law of the Divine Providence may be confirmed by many things from the spiritual world. Most persons when they enter that world after death desire to know their lot. They are told that if they have lived well their lot is in heaven, and if they have lived wickedly it is in hell. But as all, even the wicked, fear hell, they ask what they should do and what they should believe to enter heaven. They are told that they may do and believe as they will, but that they should know that in hell, good is not done and truth is not believed, but only in heaven. To each one the answer is: “Seek out what is good and what is true; then think the truth and do the good, if you are able.” So in the spiritual world as in the natural world all are left to act from freedom according to reason; but as they have acted in this world so do they act in the spiritual world. His own life awaits everyone and consequently his own lot, for the lot pertains to the life.
Arcana Coelestia 2493
1 have spoken with the angels concerning the memory of things past, and the consequent anxiety regarding things to come; and I have been instructed that the more interior and perfect the angels are, the less do they care for past things, and the less do they think of things to come; and also that from this comes their happiness. They say that the Lord gives them every moment what to think, and this with blessedness and happiness; and that they are thus free from cares and anxieties. Also, that this was meant in the internal sense by the manna being received daily from heaven; and by the daily bread in the Lord’s Prayer; and likewise by the instruction not to be solicitous about what they should eat and drink, and wherewithal they should be clothed. But although the angels do not care for past things, and are not solicitous about things to come, they nevertheless have the most perfect recollection of past things, and the most perfect mental view of things to come; because in all their present there are both the past and the future. Thus they have a more perfect memory than can ever be thought of or expressed.
A Sermon by Rev. Geoffrey S. Childs
Preached in Toronto, Canada on June 22, 1986
“Why do you spend money for what is not bread? and your labor for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (Isaiah 55:2).
On June 20th, 1770, the twelve disciples proclaimed throughout the spiritual world the new gospel, the gospel that the Lord God Jesus Christ reigns.
This teaching is the great motto, the primary truth, of the second coming, for the doctrine of the glorification is the chief doctrine of the New Church. And the primary of this doctrine is that there is one only God of heaven and earth, who is the glorified Jesus Christ: Love itself in human form. He is now immediately present.
Within this proclamation of the disciples are embodied all the truths of the Writings, for all these new truths spring from the one great truth of creation. And it may be safely assumed that when the disciples went on their mission in the other world to proclaim the Lord’s final coming, they taught more than the motto gospel we have mentioned. TCR 108 speaks of the twelve already working many months after June 19th on this project, working with zeal. They also taught those truths that reveal the actual nature of heaven. For in the world of spirits a true concept of heaven had been destroyed: the imaginary heavens blocked insight into the true nature of heaven.
The mission performed over two centuries ago by the twelve disciples in the other world is still being performed here on earth. It is being performed by the Lord’s new Word and those who love and believe it — by new disciples on earth. These disciples are the ministers and laymen of the church who love the new truth and burn to share it with others.
The chief truth taught by the disciples of the church on earth is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the only God — love itself, wisdom and compassion — and yet we are also to give the priceless new truths about heaven to those who seek. For if life ends with the grave, existence is almost pointless; but it does not so end, and the teachings about the reality of heaven are among the most crucial in the new Word.
The fundamental truth about heaven is this: heaven is a kingdom of uses. Interior delight in use — not simply continuous worship nor paradise only — is the joy of the angels. For service to the Lord and the neighbor is in heaven conjoined with wonderful happiness. All in heaven are in the delight of creative love, full of life and light and warmth. In natural, selfish states we see nothing delightful in service to others. In such states, only those efforts which will bring us gratification seem worthwhile. It is when we are uplifted by the Lord into unselfish states that we can appreciate the new truth about heaven.
One difficulty in appreciating heaven as a kingdom of uses is that on this earth we so seldom seem to find a real delight in “use” to others. It may be that our idea of “use to others” is too abstract. We associate it with something above and beyond ourselves — an ideal of service apart from everyday living, something spiritual and entirely religious. We think perhaps of use to others as being spiritual acts of charity to the neighbor, acts which are separate in some way from our everyday work.
Yet the heavenly ideal — use to the Lord and neighbor – – can be embodied in our everyday work. In fact, it should be. For every person is gifted by the Lord with a love for a particular natural occupation. The delight of his or her life is centered in some natural use: it may be homemaking, farming, mechanics, carpentry, computer programming, teaching, or any other of the myriads of natural occupations. The Lord has gifted each person with such a particular love because through it he may serve the neighbor and the Lord.
In his earthly occupation everyone has a choice. Either he or she may work solely or primarily for himself, looking strongly to the honor or money such work brings, or he may awaken, from the Lord and the Word, to a different goal.
The Lord asks, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance” (text). To spend money for what is not bread is to work for the rewards of mammon only. Spending wages for what does not satisfy is to use wealth for selfish or hedonistic purposes, which bring passing delight but fail to satisfy the inward spirit that longs for love and charity.
The Lord continues: “Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” This is to hear, from love, the words of the Lord as revealed in revelation. They speak to what is of innocence — to childhood remains and true adult resolutions. We open to such listening by loving the Lord, and showing this by shunning our leading evils as sins against Him. This asks us to be honest, to look deeply within — to find that specific form of love of dominion or greed that cripples our heart.
Sometimes it may take many years and many states to be open to such deep honesty. It is as the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda who had waited 38 years for some cure. It was only when he finally turned within — without bitterness or false defenses — and looked openly upon his heart that the Lord led him to see the evil he had been unwilling to admit. And this would come only with open, trusting prayer. He had seen this evil, admitted it to the Lord as a sin against Him, and started shunning it, and then he was fully prepared for a quiet miracle. Jesus Himself came up to him, knowing his change of heart. “Will you be cured?” When the man said, “Yes,” Jesus said, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And he found himself able to do this! Imagine his joy, his deeply moving joy!
In this state what happens is not some false rapture or euphoric, abstract elation. Rather, the spirit is touched with a new love of use, a wish from the heart to serve the neighbor. And this comes not as a duty but as a strong, quiet love, for one is then born of the spirit. “That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto you, you must be born again. The wind blows where it wills and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes; so is everyone who is born of the spirit.” This wind is the heart-moving breeze of heaven, and it sings into the heart as a love of use — a spiritual love of use.
Every particular natural use has a corresponding spiritual use. In fact, the natural occupation is caused by, and arises from, a spiritual occupation. This is true of every occupation that is in order.
After death a person who has loved his earthly occupation and has obeyed the Lord on earth finds in heaven a use that surpassingly delights him. His interest in his former natural occupation has died with the death of his body, and yet he finds himself a thousand times more delighted than man on earth, for delights in heaven far exceed delights on earth. And what is marvelous, if that person’s earthly occupation suited his dominant love, then in heaven he performs a use that exactly represents his former earthly work: a work that corresponds to it but is a thousand times more perfect and delightful, because it is on a more interior plane of the Divine proceeding — a discrete degree higher.
There are many examples given in Heaven and Hell 489 of this achieving a correspondent heavenly use. The earthly use is not given, but rather its correspondent in heaven. In one example, those in heaven are mentioned who find themselves to be predominantly in an “affection for truth itself” (HH 489:2). On earth this would include those who have a predominant love for the skills of their occupation, who love these skills above all else as a means to use, to help others.
Concerning such in heaven we read: they “dwell in the other life in light, in elevated places that appear like mountains, where they are continually in the light of heaven. They do not know what darkness is, like that of night in the world; they live also in a spring-like temperature; there are presented to their view fields filled with grain and vineyards; in their houses everything glows as if from precious stones; and looking through the windows is like looking through pure crystal. Such are the delights of their vision, but these same things are interiorly delightful because of their being correspondences of Divine heavenly things, for the truths of the Word correspond to fields of grain, vineyards, precious stones, windows and crystals” (Ibid.).
This external beauty exactly represents the heavenly uses these angels are performing. What is around them in spiritual nature corresponds to the love of use within them. In their interior uses, and the beautiful images around them, they find inexpressible delight.
This beauty of heaven, and its inward soul of use, is part of the new gospel. It is an essential part of our delight in the gospel proclaimed by the Lord’s twelve disciples on June 20th, 1770. For delight in use, on earth and in heaven, is what makes us spiritually alive. The love of the Lord is, in effect, the love of uses. To live the new gospel is to search out and sense spiritual uses. It is to fulfill the quotation of True Christian Religion 791: “Blessed are those that are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:9). For the marriage supper is found most of all in the joy of heavenly uses.
The Lord directly invites us, He asks us, to partake of this delight: “Why do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently unto Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.” Amen.
Lessons: Isaiah 55, Divine Love XIII:L
Divine Love XIII:L
So Far as Man Is in the Love of Use, So Far Is He in the Lord, So Far He Loves the Lord and Loves the Neighbor, and So Far He Is a Man.
From the love of uses we are taught what is meant by loving the Lord and loving the neighbor; also what is meant by being in the Lord and being a man. To love the Lord means to do uses from Him and for His sake. To love the neighbor means to do uses to the church, to one’s country, to human society, and to the fellow citizen. To be in the Lord means to be a use. And to be a man means to perform uses to the neighbor from the Lord for the Lord’s sake. To love the Lord means to do uses from Him and for His sake for the reason that all the good uses that man does are from the Lord; good uses are goods, and it is well known that these are from the Lord. Loving these is doing them, for what a man loves he does. No one can love the Lord in any other way, for uses, which are goods, are from the Lord, and consequently are Divine; yea, they are the Lord Himself with man. These are the things that the Lord can love. The Lord cannot be conjoined by love to any man, and consequently cannot enable man to love Him, except through His own Divine things, for man from himself cannot love the Lord; the Lord Himself must draw him and conjoin him to Himself; and therefore, loving the Lord as a person and not loving uses is loving the Lord from oneself, which is not loving. He that performs uses or goods from the Lord performs them also for the Lord’s sake. These things may be illustrated by the celestial love in which the angels of the third heaven are. These angels are in love to the Lord more than the angels in the other heavens are, and they have no idea that loving the Lord is anything else than doing goods which are uses, and they say that uses are the Lord with them. By uses they understand the uses and good works of ministry, administration, and employment, as well with priests and magistrates as with merchants and workmen; the good works that are not connected with their occupation they do not call uses; they call them alms, benefactions, and gratuities.
FISHING ON THE RIGHT SIDE
An Easter Sermon by Rev. Frederick M. ChapinApril 16, 1995
Then Jesus said to them, ‘Children, have you any food?’ They answered Him, ‘No.’ And He said to them, ‘Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some [fish].’ So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. (JN 21:5&6)
The Lord’s resurrection ushered in a new way of worshipping God. We have more freedom to express our love and devotion to the Lord. No longer are we restricted to comply with specific external laws and rituals. There are now a variety of expressions that can show our inmost appreciation towards the Lord. We now have the opportunity to have an internal relationship with the Lord. Our union with the Lord will not be centered exclusively upon performing a certain set of rituals. Now, our association with the Lord is determined by the quality of our love towards Him. The Lord described the genuine worship that He was establishing when He told the Samaritan woman at the well:
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. (JN 4:23&24)
Worship of the Lord is now established according to our willingness to comply with His instructions regarding what our loves, thoughts, and delights should be.
Just as the Lord’s resurrection introduced a more sincere worship of God for the human race, so too do the events that surrounded the Lord’s resurrection picture a personal renewal that can happen continually in our lives. We can perpetually recognize the Lord’s love and mercy in greater light that will increase throughout eternity. This ever increasing light can give us an elevated sense of freedom and a greater assurance that we can make a significant contribution towards the Lord’s creation. The more we see the Lord Jesus Christ as the one God of Heaven and Earth, and recognize the steps that we must take to have a closer bond with Him, the more fulfilling our lives will be. This is the beauty of the Lord’s resurrection that can be personally experienced within us over and over again.
The teaching of having a greater sense of fulfillment can be especially seen in the incident of the disciples gathering a large number of fish. This wonderful story can illustrate how we can emerge from a period of confusion to one where we can have a clear direction which our lives should take and how we can have a positive influence upon other people. The more we can see this taking place in our lives, the more we are sensing the Lord making a personal resurrection within us. This sense will make our lives more satisfying and effective.
The incident begins with Peter and some other disciples fishing at night and catching nothing. This depicts our striving for a sense of achievement from self. Without the Lord directing our lives, the contentment we want will be illusive. We actually seek fulfillment from self when we do not have a complete and heartfelt recognition of our need for the Lord. We may confess our reliance upon the Lord with our lips, but our innermost attitude could be one of believing that it is possible for us alone to determine, from our own instincts and judgements, what should be applied to our lives. There is an element of believing that we can act somewhat independently of the Lord and still provide good things for ourselves and for others. So long as this is the case, our lives will not be as rewarding.
However, in the morning, when the sun was rising for a new day, the disciples saw the Lord on the shore. This pictures a new perspective of looking at our lives and what we really require. This new acknowledgment enables us to truly recognize that from ourselves, we will not find the fulfillment that can endure for ever. Within this sincere awareness, there is the recognition of our dependency upon the Lord to give us a genuine sense of purpose and satisfaction for what we are able to do.
Yet, the disciples did not know that it was the Lord on the shore. There is still the desire to determine for ourselves how we should live. We may recognize and confess our need for the Lord’s presence in our lives, but deep within us, we would rather it be different. We would still desire that we make the determinations of what we can indulge in. Acting strictly from self is a subtle desire we all must face, regardless of how strong we may believe our devotion towards the Lord is. However, even though this recognition is not entirely pure, it still is the beginning of a new attitude of living. We see the Lord at a distance, but inwardly we do not want to recognize Him. Only when we truly delight in the Lord’s leading will we genuinely find a Christian life stimulating and fulfilling.
But to reach this point, we must be willing to undergo major changes in our lives. To grow there must be a willingness to accept some form of change. If there is no willingness to change, there will be no growth. This is true for both our natural lives and our spiritual lives. We advance towards a closer bond with the Lord only when we are willing to make the necessary changes in our attitudes and in our manner of living. All growth has some element of change. The disciples were told that for them to catch fish, they had to change from fishing on the left side of the boat to the right side. Likewise, we must be willing to make fundamental changes in our lives to be able to receive the Lord’s guidance. The Lord simply will not be recognized so long as we are unwilling to alter our perspectives and delights where necessary. However, it is wonderful that the Word teaches us how we can prepare ourselves to be willing to undergo and endure changes. The more we are conjoined with the Lord, the more we will embrace the necessary changes that leads to an even closer bond with Him.
Furthermore, there was a significant reason why the Lord told His disciples to cast their net on the right side of the boat. It was far more pivotal than just catching fish. This change pictures going from an attitude of simply obeying the Lord from compulsion to one of obeying the Lord from love. When we begin to make the necessary adjustments to spiritually grow in the Lord, they will be uncomfortable at first. But the Lord desires that we change so the love we have towards Him will grow. It is only when we find delight in what the Lord requires of us that a conjunction with the Lord will take place. The right side of the boat pictures learning truths from a love towards the Lord. The motivation will not be on self-advantage or to avoid bad things from happening to us, but from a simple desire to learn what the Lord wants us to do, because we want to be closer to Him.
When this perspective in life develops within us, our spiritual degree of life will rule our natural degree. This means that our sensual pleasures will be under the dictate of complying with the Lord’s commandments. When this happens, our moral principles will not wander, like the fish in the open waters. Instead, they will be orderly contained within the doctrine of life we draw from the Word. Our personal doctrine of life is the net with the multitude of fish. The net is our basic and most fundamental philosophy of life. When our doctrine is directed from the Lord, it will have a multitude of knowledge of knowing how good affections and thoughts can be established in our lives. This is the multitude of fish that was in the net when they cast it from the right side of the boat.
It is interesting that despite the great number of fish, the net did not break. This is far different than what happened at an earlier time, when a similar incident took place, which we read of in our lesson from the Gospel of Luke. At that time the net did break. However, this time, the net was stronger. The same was true regarding the disciple’s inward attitudes and thoughts towards the Lord. There was a stronger devotion to follow Him and a stronger understanding of what the Lord wanted them to do. As a result, their doctrine of life could contain a more in-depth understanding about the Lord and the quality of life they were to live. This subtle comparison is displayed by the net not breaking. Our basic principles of life can also contain more wisdom and appreciation of the Lord’s teachings, as we proceed closer to Him. It is interesting to note that when the disciples saw the tremendous number of fish, they were seized with a fear. Peter especially showed this when he plunged into the water because he was naked. We are reminded of Adam, when he hid himself from God, because of his nakedness, after he ate of the forbidden fruit. However, there is a difference between Peter and Adam. Adam hid from the Lord because of a direct disobedience to the Lord’s command. He was afraid of the wrath of God punishing him. Peter’s reaction was more positive. Peter was appalled that the Lord, Who is infinitely good and pure, should see his nakedness. Peter was afraid, not so much from what might happen to him, but from a perceived unworthiness to be in the Lord’s presence in such a condition. Nakedness pictures our inner most secrets and desires becoming exposed. When we are sensing the Lord’s presence, the disorders of our innermost thoughts are plainly seen. This can lead to a fear. Yet, this is a holy fear. It is a fear that our failures and shortcomings will impede our bond with the Lord. It is not a fear primarily based upon avoiding the punishments that can be afflicted upon us. Instead, this fear is that harm will be done to our reception of the Lord. This holy fear provides the basis of removing the hidden impurities from our lives. Only when we want them removed will we be able to come before the Lord.
And when they did come to shore, the Lord already had some fish laid out over coals for them to eat. It is significant to note that in the story, the Lord invited the disciples to place their fish with His. This is a beautiful picture of the Lord inviting our heavenly affections and light, which are appropriated to us, to be conjoined with His Divine love and wisdom. This is the reason for the Lord’s coming to the earth and is the very core for our celebration of the Lord’s resurrection. It was at the Lord’s resurrection that such an internal conjunction between the Lord and ourselves was established and made possible.
The Lord’s resurrection brought in a new approach which has allowed our worship to be more genuine. The more we can take advantage of the opportunity that the Lord has provided for us, the more we will value His resurrection. And at the same time, we will find the Lord providing a life before us that is established in His peace and joy. There is no greater feeling of accomplishment than to do what the Lord has created us for. The Lord has enabled all of us to sincerely worship Him and to express genuine charity towards others. This is the foundation of the joy we celebrate today. It is by the Lord’s resurrection that He fully accomplished these blessed words, “I have come that you may have life, and that you may have it more abundantly.” (REF)