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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Gospels

Chapter 86 - John 21:5 - The Tender Love of the Risen Christ Light & Truth: The Gospels by Bonar, Horatius




The Tender Love Of The Risen Christ.


"Children, have ye any meat?"-John 21:5.



     It was a risen Christ that put this question; thus He is shewn to be the same Saviour still; cross and grave have not quenched His love; nor has resurrection made Him forget them, or raised Him above sympathy with them.

     The question pertained to the wants of the body. His resurrection-body was still in sympathy with their body. He felt their pain, and want, and cold, and hunger, just as He did before. The higher He rose, the deeper and more perfect were His sympathies. He could hunger no more, neither thirst any more, nor be weary more; yet all this but made Him the more keenly alive to such sufferings and privations in His brethren.

     The question which He put is one which He did not need to put; He could have answered it Himself; He knew they had no meat,-that all the night they had toiled, but caught nothing. Yet He wishes to speak to them as a man,-as a friend interested in their welfare. That question is His method of approaching them; His morning salutation; the first link between them; the going out of His heart to call out theirs. He awakens their confidence, as a stranger, an unknown friend; and then, ere they are aware, the stranger-dress is dropped, and Jesus, their Master, is revealed. Blessed surprise! Such as that with Mary at the tomb; such as that with the disciples on the Emmaus road; as if He delighted in these surprises of love. Man all over in everything but sin, both before and after his resurrection.

     The question here indicates such things as these,-watchfulness, pity, bounty; and though these were exhibited in connection with bodily need, not the less are they found in Him, in connection with the soul and its deeper, more eternal wants, and in connection with the church, His body, and her infinite wants. Let us note then,

     I. The watchfulness of the risen Christ. He looks down on His flock, and marks each sheep and lamb with more than a shepherd's eye. The glory, the blessedness, the abundance with which He is surrounded, do not make Him unwatchful. Amid His own plenty, He remembers the poverty, and hunger, and cold, and nakedness of His scattered flock below. He watches each one. The want of one meal for the body was observed by Him, that morning in Galilee; we may be sure that He marks the want of sustenance, whether for soul or body, in the least of his members. Poor saint, you never lacked a meal, a crust, but Jesus noticed it, and asked the question, on purpose to supply your want, "My child, have you any meat?" You never lacked even one spiritual meal, at any time, but He put the same question. He watches the hunger and thirst of His church on earth, and is unceasingly putting the question to it,-to each congregation,-to each saint: Children, have ye any meat? Nothing escapes his vigilant eye. "I know thy poverty," He says; I know thy hunger, thy thirst, thy weariness, thy weakness, thy sighs and tears.

     II. The pity of the risen Christ. "I have compassion on the multitudes," He once said, "because they have continued with me three days, and have nothing to eat." Such was His pity before His resurrection. Our text shews us His pity after it. And we are sure that the throne has not lessened that pity. He pities His church's hunger and leanness; each saint's hunger and leanness. It is in profoundest pity that he asks the question of each of us, Children, have ye any meat?  Surrounded by the abundance in His Father's house above, he pities us in this wilderness, this land of famine; where want compasses us about. Oh. let us lean the compassion of the risen and ascended Christ. Let us trust it in every hour of want. Never did earthly father pity a starving child as He pities us.

     III. The bounty of the risen Christ. His is no empty pity. He does not say merely, Be ye warmed and filled. He at once opens his treasure-house, and supplies us, as Joseph his brethren. His stores are boundless. He has bread enough and to spare. He has no pleasure in our hunger. He delights to pour out His plenty; nay, and to provide channels for Its flowing down to us,-as in the case of His disciples, when He filled their nets, and kindled the fire; and prepared the meal with His own hands. He opens his hands, and supplies every want. He replenishes the church's basket and store. He fills the cruse and meal barrel of his widowed church here in the day of famine. And this is His voice to her now,-His voice in every age, His voice in these last days: "Children, have ye any meat?" Perhaps we have to answer, No. There is cleanness of teeth; a famine, not of bread, nor water, but of hearing the words of the Lord (Amos 8:2). No; we are famishing; our spiritual meals are scanty; our leanness, our leanness! Then He comes and spreads a table in the wilderness. He feeds us with the finest of the wheat. He gives us His own flesh to eat; and His flesh is meat indeed. Such is His tender love, His infinite bounty.

     After He has fed them, and thus renewed the tokens of His love and care; after that, in silent awe, they had feasted together by that wondrous lake, He breaks silence by putting the question, "Loves thou me?" He puts it to the most jealous of His disciples, much more to all of us. And this is the sound of His voice; which we now hear, putting to us the question, "Lovest thou me?" What is our answer? We said at once; No, when He asked about our food; shall we not as explicitly say, Yes, when He asks, "Lovest thou me?"