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.
By Joe David
Near the end of the gospel of John, (in John 21:1-14), we find a story where, some days after Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection, seven of Jesus's disciples have travelled north from Jerusalem to the sea of Galilee. At Peter's suggestion they have all gone out in his boat to fish. But they try all night, and have no luck and catch nothing. They are close to the shore, and as the early morning light begins to grow they see a man standing by the water. He calls out to them asking if they have caught anything. When they answer "no", He tells them, "try the other side of the boat". When they do this they catch so many fish they can't haul the net into the boat, it's too heavy. So they row toward shore letting the net full of fish drag on the bottom.
At first they don't recognize that the man they are seeing is Jesus. He has a small fire burning, and is cooking fish, and He invites them to have breakfast with Him. Then John says quietly to Peter that it's Jesus. Peter grabs his cloak, belts it around himself to cover his nakedness, and jumps in to swim to shore, since they are very close already.
This story has some interesting details to explore. The first of the stories of things that happened after the Lord's rising took place in or near Jerusalem, but this one is in Galilee. Five of these disciples are named, and at least four of the five we know are from Galilee, so in coming there they are at home, and these are fishermen, so to go fishing is in their blood. The five named are Simon (or Peter), the brothers James and John, Thomas, and Nathaniel, and then two more who are not named, to make up the seven. It would be reasonable to guess that the unnamed two are Andrew, Peter's brother, and Philip, a friend of Nathaniel's, both of whom we know are from that area near the lake.
The angels that Peter and John saw at the sepulcher had told them that Jesus would meet them in Galilee on "the mountain", and perhaps these seven, because they came from Galilee, hurried on ahead of the others.
Let's look at their names and see what the literal meaning is, and what they represent in a spiritual way.
- Simon was renamed by Jesus as ‘Peter' which in the Greek means a rock, and in his case, the firmest and most critical rock, or truth, of Christianity, that Jesus was from God.
- John means love or charity.
- John's brother James means the doing of charity.
- Nathaniel means a gift from God, and being a friend of Philip, I think it might be that the gift from God that he represents is the love of learning things that fill the understanding, our curiosity.
- Thomas, in Greek, means a twin, and since he is named right after Peter perhaps he has a similar representation. Peter believes in the Lord easily because of what he has seen and what the Lord has told him whereas Thomas believes, and believes just as strongly, but only after his doubts have been erased, after he has been shown.
The towns most mentioned in the stories that take place around the "Sea of Galilee" in the gospels are Bethsaida, Capernaum, Cana, and Nazareth. Bethsaida itself means "a place of fishing." The maps I have of the area are small scale and not all exactly the same, but the indication is that it is at the northern end of the lake or even on the upper Jordan river just before it runs into the lake. Capernaum and Magdala are on the northwestern shore and Cana and Nazareth are inland, but only four or five miles west of this corner of the lake. This area was where most of these disciples had been brought up, and fishing was a common occupation.
The name Galilee means "a circuit". The Word teaches us that Jesus taught in the towns all around the lake, so that a reading of all that Jesus taught and did in that country could be thought of as a "circuit" of His teachings.
The next detail of interest is that when the Lord suggests the other side of the boat and the result is a large catch of fish after a long night of nothing. This is reminiscent of the fishing incident given in Luke 5:4-7. Since the disciples are to become "fishers of men" (as in Matthew 4:19) and they are to persuade people into the knowledge and worship of the Lord, the Christ, it is perhaps a lesson that in their ministry they must always be guided by the Lord.
Then John realizes, and whispers to Peter, "it's the Lord" (John 21:7) and Peter quickly puts his cloak on and jumps in to get to shore faster. Why is it John that first realizes? John represents love and affection while Peter represents faith or truth. While truth is the means of acting, as Peter does, love is the means of connecting, which is what John did. And why did Peter need to grab his cloak and put it on? Clothing in the Word represents the truths about spiritual things that all people may have if they look for them and it is the particular truths that form Peter as a disciple, "Thou art the Christ" (Matthew 16:16-18) that he answers to the Lord, and this truth is the rock of the Christian church. Having this truth as part of himself is necessary to meet the Lord.
When they are all on shore, Jesus says to them to bring some of the fish they have caught, so Peter goes to the water and drags the full net up onto the sand and counts out the fish, one hundred and fifty three. Then Jesus invites them all to come and eat.
Now a strange comment is put into the story: "…none of the disciples durst ask him, 'who art thou?', knowing that it was the Lord." (John 21:12). It seems that they should have known, they had been following Him for several years. I wonder if this is a reminder that the Christian church has yet to understand the true reality of the Lord - was He God, or was He man? The Catholic church argued this for more than three hundred years, and the council that was supposed to decide came up with three separate persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all in one Godhead. Some of the Christian churches of today seem to focus on two, the Father, and a Son born from eternity, who apparently both rule together.
The New Christian Church understands that Jesus was born both God and man but that there was a slow but inevitable change going on during His lifetime. He was born with God, Jehovah, as His inmost, and a human heredity and body from Mary as a covering or cloak over this inmost. Mary was, you may recall, of the royal house of David, so her heredity was both strong and inclusive, and thus represented all that was connected to the Jewish form of worship. During Jesus' life (and starting early, though we don't know just how early), He put off things from Mary, and put on what was a corresponding Divine, from His inmost, in its place, until on Easter morning He was wholly divine, with all that came from His mother being dispersed and gone. There is only One God.
Why is it that in this little story the number of fishes that were caught in the net is mentioned, and why does it seem now so important that Peter took the time to count them as everyone waited? Something that has been revealed to the New Christian Church is that all the numbers used in the stories of the Word have a meaning that belongs to that number even outside the literal use in the story. The number 153 can be seen as the combination of 150 and 3, and both of these are strongly meaningful. Starting with the "three", there should be little doubt that it means something since it is used so often. Jesus rose on the third day. Also three is the number of things that, put together, make anything complete, the wish or desire to do it, the knowledge of how to do it, and the actual doing. This is true of any task - from baking a cake right up to the Lord's love, His wisdom, and His act put forth in creating the universe. One hundred and fifty is not so plain. I am aware of only two places it is used in the Word, and we are told that it means a total change, an ending of something and the beginning of something different. It is used here and in the story of the flood, at the end of Genesis 7 and in Genesis 8:3; "And the waters prevailed upon the earth an hundred and fifty days." "… And the waters returned from off the earth continually; and after the end of the one hundred and fifty days the waters were abated." The use here is that it means the end of the Church called "Adam" and the start of the church called "Noah" (See on this website "The Churches", and for the meaning, see Arcana Coelestia 812, 846). In the story we are considering it means the end of the Church called Israel and the start of the Christian church, though that is probably complete a day or two later when the Lord meets with all of His disciples on the mountain and sends them out to preach and heal.
This first part of this story ends with all of the seven disciples on the shore with Jesus, and His giving to them a breakfast of bread and roasted fish, and with this giving perhaps they all fully realized who He was, as with the two at Emmaus, and the Gospel comments, "This is now the third time that Jesus showed Himself to his disciples after that He was risen from the dead.
2921. 'My lord, you are a prince of God in the midst of us' means the Lord as regards Divine good and truth with them. This is clear from the meaning of 'a lord' and of 'a prince of God', and from the meaning of 'in the midst of us'. The fact that the expression 'lord' is used when good is the subject is clear from the Old Testament Word, for there Jehovah is sometimes called Jehovah, sometimes God, sometimes Lord, sometimes Jehovah God, sometimes Lord Jehovih, sometimes Jehovah Zebaoth, and always for a hidden reason which cannot be known except from the internal sense. In general when the celestial things of love, that is, when good, are dealt with, the name Jehovah is used, but when the spiritual things of faith are dealt with, the name God is used. And when both together are dealt with, the names Jehovah God are used. When however the Divine power of good, that is, when omnipotence is the subject, Jehovah Zebaoth (or Jehovah of Hosts), and also the Lord, are used; so that the names Jehovah Zebaoth and the name the Lord have the same sense and meaning. From this also, that is to say, from the power of good, men and angels are called 'lords', and in the contrary sense those are called servants or slaves who have no power at all or else have a power received from their lords. From these considerations it becomes clear that here 'my lord' in the internal sense means the Lord as regards good, which in what follows below will be illustrated from the Word. 'A prince of God' however means the Lord as regards the power of truth, that is, as regards truth, as becomes clear from the meaning of 'a prince' or 'princes' as first and foremost truths, dealt with in 1482, 2089, and from the fact that the phrase 'a prince of God' is used, for the name God is used when truth is dealt with but the name Jehovah when good is dealt with, 2586, 2769, 2807, 2822. As regards 'in the midst of us' meaning among them or present with them, this is clear without explanation.
 That in the Old Testament Word the names Jehovah Zebaoth and the name Lord have the same sense and meaning is clear in Isaiah,
The zeal of Jehovah Zebaoth will do this; the Lord has sent a word into Jacob, and it has fallen on Israel. Isaiah 9:7-8.
Elsewhere in the same prophet,
A mighty king will have dominion over them, said the Lord, Jehovah Zebaoth. Isaiah 19:4.
Behold, suddenly there will come to His temple the Lord whom you are seeking and the angel of the covenant in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming, says Jehovah Zebaoth. Malachi 3:1.
More plainly, in Isaiah,
I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up. Above Him stood the seraphim; each had six wings. One called to another, Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah Zebaoth. Woe is me! For I am cut off; for my eyes have seen the King, Jehovah Zebaoth. And I heard the voice of the Lord. Isaiah 6:1-3, 5, 8.
From these places it is evident that Jehovah Zebaoth and the Lord have the same meaning.
 But 'the Lord Jehovih' is used more particularly when the help of omnipotence is sought and prayed for, as in Isaiah,
Say to the cities of Judah, Behold your God! Behold, the Lord Jehovih will come with might, and His arm will exercise dominion for Him; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. He will pasture His flock like a shepherd. Isaiah 40:9-11.
For further examples of this use of 'the Lord Jehovih', see Isaiah 25:8; 40:10; 48:16; 50:4-5, 7, 9; 61:1; Jeremiah 2:22; Ezekiel 8:1; 11:13, 17, 21; 12:10, 19, 28; 13:8, 13, 16, 18, 20; 14:4, 6, 11, 18, 20-21; Micah 1:2; Psalms 71:5, 16; and many other places.
 What is more, in the Old Testament Word 'the Lord' entails the same as 'Jehovah', that is to say, 'the Lord' is used when good is dealt with, and therefore also the Lord is distinguished from God in the same way as Jehovah is from God; as in Moses,
Jehovah your God, He is God of gods, and Lord of lords. Deuteronomy 10:17.
Confess the God of gods, for His mercy is for ever; confess the Lord of lords, for His mercy is for ever. Psalms 136:1-3.
 But nowhere in the New Testament Word, neither in the Gospels nor in the Book of Revelation, is Jehovah used. Instead of Jehovah the name the Lord occurs - for hidden reasons to be dealt with below. The fact that in the New Testament Word the Lord is used instead of Jehovah is quite clear in Mark,
Jesus said, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. Therefore you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your thought, and with all your strength. Mark 12:29-30.
The same is expressed in Moses as follows,
Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah; and you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:4-5.
Here it is evident that the name 'the Lord' is used instead of Jehovah. Likewise in John,
I looked, and behold, a throne had been set in heaven, with one seated upon the throne. Around the throne were four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind. Each had for himself six wings round about him, and was full of eyes within. They were saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God omnipotent. Revelation 4:2, 6, 8.
This is described in Isaiah as follows,
I saw the Lord seated upon a throne, high and lifted up. Above Him stood the seraphim; each had six wings. One called to another, Holy, holy, holy is Jehovah Zebaoth. Isaiah 6:1-3, 5, 8.
In this case 'the Lord' is used instead of 'Jehovah', that is, 'the Lord God omnipotent' instead of 'Jehovah Zebaoth'. The fact that the four living creatures are the seraphim or cherubs is evident in Ezekiel 1:5, 13-15, 19 and following verses; 10:15. That in the New Testament 'the Lord' is Jehovah is also clear from many other places, as in Luke,
An angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah. Luke 1:11.
'An angel of the Lord' is used instead of 'an angel of Jehovah'. In the same chapter the angel told Zechariah regarding his son,
He will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. Luke 1:16.
'To the Lord their God' is used instead of 'to Jehovah their God'. Also in the same chapter, the angel told Mary regarding Jesus,
He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to Him the throne of David. Luke 1:32.
'The Lord God' is used instead of 'Jehovah God'. Still in the same chapter,
Mary said, My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Saviour. Luke 1:46-47.
Here also 'the Lord' is used instead of 'Jehovah'. And again in the same chapter, Zechariah prophesied, saying,
Blessed is the Lord God of Israel. Luke 1:68.
'The Lord God' is used instead of 'Jehovah God'. In the same gospel,
An angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds, and the glory of the Lord shone around them. Luke 2:9.
'An angel of the Lord' and 'the glory of the Lord' are used instead of 'an angel of Jehovah' and 'the glory of Jehovah'. In Matthew,
Blessed is He coming in the name of the Lord. Matthew 21:9; 23:39; Luke 13:35; John 12:13.
'In the name of the Lord' is used instead of 'in the name of Jehovah'. There are many other places besides all these, such as Luke 1:28; 2:15, 22-24, 29, 38-39; 5:17; Mark 12:10-11.
 Among the hidden reasons why people called Jehovah the Lord were the following: If when the Lord was in the world they had been told that He was the Jehovah mentioned so many times in the Old Testament, see 1736, they would not have accepted it because they would not have believed it. And there is the further reason that as regards the Human the Lord did not become Jehovah until He had in every respect united the Divine Essence to the Human Essence, and the Human Essence to the Divine Essence, see 1725, 1729, 1733, 1745, 1815, 2156, 2751. These became fully united after the final temptation, which was that of the Cross; and it was for this reason that after the Resurrection the disciples always called Him Lord, John 20:2, 13, 15, 18, 20, 25; 21:7, 12, 15-17, 20; Mark 16:19-20; and Thomas said,
My Lord and my God. John 20:28.
And as the Lord was the Jehovah mentioned so many times in the Old Testament, therefore He also told the disciples,
You call Me Master and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If therefore I your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers' feet. John 13:13-14, 16.
These words mean that He was Jehovah God, for in this instance He is called 'Lord' as regards good, but 'Master' as regards truth. That the Lord was Jehovah is also meant by the angel's words to the shepherds,
To you is born this day a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11.
'Christ' is used instead of 'Messiah', 'Anointed One', and 'King', 'the Lord, instead of 'Jehovah' - 'Christ' having regard to truth, 'the Lord' to good. Anyone who does not examine the Word carefully cannot know this, for he believes that our Saviour was called Lord because this was an everyday expression that was used to offer respect to Him, as to others, when in reality He was so called by virtue of His being Jehovah.
(References: Genesis 23:6)