Metaphysical Bible Interpretation of John Chapter 21
Metaphysically Interpreting John 21:1-14
21:1After these things Jesus manifested himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and he manifested himself on this wise. 21:2There was together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.21:3Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also come with thee. They went forth, and entered into the boat; and that night they took nothing.
21:4But when day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach: yet the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 21:5Jesus therefore saith unto them, Children, have ye aught to eat? They answered him, No. 21:6And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 21:7That disciple therefore whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his coat about him (for he was naked), and cast himself into the sea. 21:8But the other disciples came in the little boat (for they were not far from the land, but about two hundred cubits off), dragging the net full of fishes.
21:9So when they got out upon the land, they see a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 21:10Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now taken. 21:11Simon Peter therefore went up, and drew the net to land, full of great fishes, a hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, the net was not rent. 21:12Jesus saith unto them, Come and break your fast. And none of the disciples durst inquire of him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 21:13Jesus cometh, and taketh the bread, and giveth them, and the fish likewise. 21:14This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after that he was risen from the dead.
November 9, 1930: John 21:1-2
When the I AM demonstrated its mastery and control of the life principle and has resurrected the body into newness of life, understanding is united with faith, love, and the other faculties of man in a new spiritual insight into things (sea of Tiberias). Every phase of life gains new and deeper meaning, and doubt is seen to have been but the immature viewpoint of the natural man. The doubter is never an atheist; the only atheist is the indifferent person, who feels no interest in the subject of spiritual values. He who doubts is often sincerely seeking Truth, but with blindfolded eyes and fumbling hands. When the touch of the Christ mind loosens the restrictions of sense, understanding grows clear.
- UNITY magazine.
June 19, 1949: John 21:7-12
How do the faculties awaken to the truth of eternal life? They awaken by degrees after the soul first awakens. Understanding is inadequate at first, but gradually it increases with the strengthening and quickening of faith. The other faculties in turn experience an access of new life under the quickening effect of the Christ idea.
What was the substance of Jesus’ message to His disciples, when He appeared to them in Galilee at the Sea of Tiberias? After first providing them food He three times commanded Peter, “Feed my lambs” and “Feed my sheep.” Sheep represent thoughts, and we see in this admonition the importance of thinking the thoughts of the Christ and of doing the works that these thoughts enjoin. We are to follow the Christ in thought, word, and deed.
Metaphysically Interpreting John 21:15-19
21:15So when they had broken their fast, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 21:16He saith to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Tend my sheep. 21:17He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of John, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 21:18Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 21:19Now this he spake, signifying by what manner of death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.
December 21, 1919: John 21:15-19
What is the spiritual meaning of the resurrected Jesus’ words to Peter, “Lovest thou me?” “Feed my sheep”? Peter (Faith) is the first disciple Jesus called. It is the working of faith through love which feeds and sustains the spiritual nature on the three different planes of consciousness, here typified by the sheep.
Explain the meaning of Jesus’ words to Peter: “When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, ... another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not”? In the first spiritual illumination there is much enthusiasm, and while we are in this state of consciousness, great works are often accomplished. Later, when the true spiritual understanding begins to unfold, when we are older in Truth, we learn to rely more and more on the Principle, until we can say with Jesus, “The Father abiding in me doeth his works.”
Why did Jesus speak thus to Peter? Jesus was preparing Peter for the experiences which would come to him through preaching and teaching the Gospel. The road which leads to the goal of spiritual attainment, from the mortal viewpoint, is not always strewn with flowers, but the one object to keep in mind is the glorification of God. Jesus said unto Peter, “Follow me.”
July 15, 1923: John 21:15-17
What is the import of the repeated affirmations of Peter's love, as given in the latter verses of this lesson? The spiritual import of these repeated affirmations is that steadfastness of faith is developed through love. Peter wavered in his faith many times, because he was not established in love. He cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus had him affirm love three times, that is in Spirit, soul, and body. Then he was prepared to serve, to “feed my sheep.”
April 4, 1926: John 21:15-17
Jesus questioned Peter three times, “Lovest thou me?” Explain. Peter had denied Jesus three times. Peter symbolizes faith, stability. This faculty was passing through a test to determine whether or not it was ready for advancement. The word “love” hinges upon service. The working of spiritual law reveals that, if one truly loves, he will serve. When Peter attested his unfailing love, “Jesus saith unto him. Feed my sheep.”
February 24, 1929: John 21:15-19
Does faith, symbolized by Peter, ever become unstable in consciousness? Faith, before it becomes established and is unified with understanding, is sometimes unstable. After one has gone through a certain discipline in his spiritual unfoldment and has elevated the Son of God in his consciousness, the faculty of faith is put through a questioning process in order to reveal to the individual his real standing in Truth. “Simon, son of John, lovest thou me more than these?”
November 2, 1930: John 21:15-17
Why did Jesus question peter three times, “Lovest thou me?” The true service of love is in giving, represented by feeding the sheep. The number three is symbolic of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Give and bless in the name of the Father; give and bless in the name of the Son; give and bless in the name of the Holy Ghost, and the divine law is fulfilled.
Sunday, February 3, 1935: John 21:11-19
Explain how faith can be restored after it has yielded to fear. Faith that has been overcome by fear can be restored by the active expression of love. “Perfect love casteth out fear.”
Does the act of eating symbolize anything in the spiritual realm? Eating is a symbol of the appropriation of spiritual substance and life. Jesus, speaking in the Christ consciousness, said, “So he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me.”
How is faith affected by words? True words always confirm faith. These are affirmative or constructive words spoken with confident conviction of their truth.
“The shields of the earth belong unto God.” Does this statement contain an implied reference to faith? It does, because faith acts as a shield from failure, discouragement, disillusionment, and other negative reactions to life and circumstance.
Is prosperity dependent on the quality of faith in any measure? There must be faith among men before prosperity in a general sense can become permanent. Lack of confidence is a contributing factor to all depressions.
Jesus charged Peter three times to feed and tend his sheep. Explain the significance of this charge. Sheep represent the natural life that flows into man's consciousness from Spirit. This life is in its essence pure, innocent, and guileless, and we nourish and tend it, when we open our minds to a realization of spiritual truth.
Why is love the greatest thing in the world? Because it is the most active impelling power. Spiritual love is not a quiescent quality, but shows its presence by action in conformity with its nature.
How can faith be made so steadfast that it will not waver under temptation to doubt? Faith must be established in love and the two work together, if we would fortify ourselves against doubting and wavering.
What effect does love have on the consciousness? It unifies the consciousness and enables man to realize his kinship with the divine.
What is the death whereby we glorify God? The giving up of the sense self and the functioning in universal consciousness are indicated by this expression.
Sunday, January 29, 1939: John 21:11-19
Interpret Peter's experience in drawing up the net piled with many fishes. Simon Peter represents faith; the net, in this case, the receptive state of mind that lays hold of the substance of thought and at the command of the I AM converts it into ideas (great fish). Faith makes these ideas substantial (draws the net to land) and by retaining the receptive state intact (keeping the net unbroken) leaves the way open for the development of further ideas.
“Come and break your fast.” How is this done in a metaphysical sense? One fasts from thinking, when one allows the thoughts to drift aimlessly in the race stream of consciousness, merely registering impressions from the outer world with no attempt to understand what underlies them or get at the truth of any subject. One breaks one's fast by mentally assimilating each idea that presents itself, considering the substance of Truth on which it rests, and understanding it.
Why were the disciples afraid to ask Jesus who He was, and why did they need to ask if they recognized Him past all mistaking? The faculties of the natural man recognize the true function of the I AM as the lord and master of life, but since the natural man does not use the I AM to connect himself with the Truth of Being, the thought of doing so fills him with vague fears. He knows the I AM, but makes no practical use of it.
What practical use should man make of the I AM? He should use it to claim faith, love, wisdom, power, and the other attributes that he wishes to manifest in his daily life and in all original thinking on true ideas.
What is the significance of Jesus' third appearance before the disciples? The third appearance of Jesus to the disciples corresponds to the third phase of man's being. Man is threefold: Spirit, soul, and body. On His first manifestation to the disciples Jesus “breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit.” On the second He convinced Thomas of the truth of the Resurrection. On the third He satisfied the physical hunger of the disciples.
April 28, 1946: John 21:15-17
When faith revives after having failed us, what is needed to hold it secure against further failures? Intensified love. Jesus had Peter affirm his love for his Master three times, thus dedicating himself, body, soul, and spirit, to the service of the higher self.
How is love best expressed? In service. If we love the Christ we feed our mind with thoughts of the Christ and at the same time feed our soul with the substance of Truth, while exercising our body in ministering to others according to their need and our ability.
April 6, 1947: John 21:15-17
Does faith play a vital part in the resurrection life? It does. There can be no peace in life without faith. Peter (faith) repented of his denial of Jesus and affirmed his love for Him three times, proving that faith is quick to align itself with love and awaken to the truth that life is one.
Metaphysically Interpreting John 21:20-25
21:20Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; who also leaned back on his breast at the supper, and said, Lord, who is he that betrayeth thee? 21:21Peter therefore seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 21:22Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? Follow thou me. 21:23This saying therefore went forth among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, that he should not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?
21:24This is the disciple that beareth witness of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his witness is true. 21:25And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that should be written.
May 2, 1945: John 21:15-24
What is a sure test of Love? The desire to serve unselfishly. Love inspires such service.
Why should Peter love the Lord more than the other disciples? Peter represents faith, and faith works through love in greater measure than through any of the other faculties (disciples).
How can we know when love is of the spiritual type? When the one who loves is inspired to self-forgetfulness and objective service, his love is akin to divine love.
What do “sheep” represent? They represent innocent but weak and ineffectual thoughts of life. These require nurturing through faith. If we are to express life in the highest degree, we must continually give our attention to life and realize that it is divine.
What permanent benefit, if any, results from thinking a subject through? Aside from the satisfaction of understanding the subject at first hand, the practice establishes the habit of mental thoroughness, which is a decided benefit to anyone.
Why does it pay us to watch our thinking? It is worth the effort to form the habit of thinking constructively, because negative thinking is destructive in its effects. We should not watch our thinking so closely that we become self-conscious about it, but we should continually keep in mind the truth that, as we think, so we are. Constructive habits of thought are not instinctive or spontaneous in everyone, and where they are not they repay the time and effort spent in developing them.
Why is it essential for us to develop love, so that we express it in thought and service for others? Because learning to think [of] others and serve them unselfishly, which is the Christ expression of love, is a bulwark to us through the most drastic test. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” The Christ love makes such sacrifice possible.
What is the death whereby one glorifies God? This is the voluntary surrender of one's personal self in order to enter into the universal realm of spiritual consciousness.
Transcribed by Lloyd Kinder on 01-15-2014