Seeing Jesus


Rev. Fr. Gheevarghese John

On the first Sunday after New Sunday, that is, the second Sunday after the Resurrection, the Holy Church ascribes the Gospel of John 21:1-14. This passage records one of the several post-resurrection appearances of Christ to his disciples and followers. Jesus Christ appears to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias showing Himself to Peter, Thomas, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples. Here, I will attempt to demonstrate how and why the Apostle John was able to recognize Jesus standing on the shores and how that applies to our lives.

The Apostle John is the only Apostle who was brave enough to stand by Christ at the Cross. While the other Apostles were fearful and in hiding, John was standing with Jesus at His greatest hour of need. (John 19:25-27) In the night of the Passover it was John who leaned on the bosom of Jesus enquiring as to who would betray Him. (John 13:21-25) John (along with Peter and James) saw Jesus transfigured on Mount Tabor. (Matthew 17:1-9) While fishing on the Sea of Tiberias with the other disciples, it was only John who was able to see Jesus. For John “seeing” and “recognizing” Jesus was a natural outworking of his extreme love for Him. We can say that John loved Jesus more than the other disciples; and for this reason he was able to recognize Jesus standing on the shores of the sea. Similarly, it was John’s love that allowed him to stand by Jesus, while the other disciples were hiding. John’s love was so extreme that in his own gospel he boastfully refers to himself as “the beloved disciple.” John’s love for Jesus, unmatched by any other disciple, allowed him to see and recognize Jesus in all situations. Like John, are we able to see Jesus in our situations? If Jesus appeared to us today, would we even recognize Him? Many Christians today are unavailable to see Jesus in their lives because there is no genuine love for Christ. The outward displays of religion are visible but the inward relationship with Christ is nonexistent. (Matthew 23:27) Prayer, ritual or tradition without genuine love for Christ is useless. We can never expect to endure the race if we don’t love Christ, and the trials and pressures of life will eventual erode our religion and we will end-up empty. (Hebrews 12:1-3) At this point we find ourselves in the position of the Apostle Peter—fishing on the left side of the boat and coming-up empty. Emptiness is always a product of outward religion and such people are always fishing on the left side; but for those who fish on the right side of the boat, they will experience an abundance of faith which cannot be contained.

We need to become like the Apostle John and develop a genuine love for Christ and move away from our empty outward religion. This is done through prayer, fasting, confession, and receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, not as a ritual, but as a genuine attempt to want to love Christ more. When our Christian traditions and sacraments become an act of love toward Christ, then, like the Apostle John, we will be able to see Jesus in every situation in our lives.