“Have Ye Any Meat?” – Or: Fellowship in the Local Assembly

The rather pointed question giving the title to this article is found in John 21. 5, where an account is given of the behaviour of some of the disciples after the resurrection of Christ. These disciples had come to a stage where they did not know what to do next, and their attitude is reflected in verse 3, “I go a fishing”, a display of self-will and human leadership with disastrous results.

Service and Human Leadership

So much damage has been caused in assemblies by the assertion of the flesh and the supplanting of the Spirit’s guidance by human leadership motivated by self-will. In Exodus 2. 12 the account is given of Moses who was guilty of taking the situation into his own hands and killing the Egyptian. There was no doubt that God was going to use Moses to free His people from the tyranny of the Egyptian bondage, but it had to be in God’s time and in God’s way. Moses was in too much of a hurry - he was forty years too early!

But the sad part about Peter’s decision in verse 3 was that he influenced the others, “We also go with thee”. Here is a grim warning that our self-willed actions can influence others, thereby making the situation worse, producing no results as we can see in verse 3 again. Service that is governed by the flesh brings not blessing but frustration with it. A Sunday School lesson will be ineffectual if delivered in the energy of the flesh, whilst a gospel message will see no blessing if self asserts itself. Notice that a number of the disciples were fishermen by trade and were chosen by the Lord because He could see that their fishing skills could be sanctified and used for His glory. It is widely known that a fisherman must keep himself out of sight, that is, his reflection must not be seen in the water. Thus we must keep ourselves out of sight if we are to see blessing; in other words, self must not assert itself. The inevitable result of self-willed service was that they were out of touch with Christ, or as verse 4 puts it, “but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus”. If this is the condition of our spiritual lives, then little wonder that we have nothing to bring to Christ as recorded in verse 5. Do we sometimes come to a prayer meeting unprepared with no burden in prayer; have we nothing to offer at the Bible reading ; have we no fruit to give at the breaking of bread meeting, no contribution to make, no appreciation of Christ, all because our lives are not Christ-directed? Such lives are controlled by the flesh and they are out of touch with Christ.

Service and Christ’s Direction

The change is nothing short of miraculous when Christ is allowed to take over the situation. Hearts that are directed by Christ will revolutionize a prayer meeting. In 2 Chronicles 18. 13 Micaiah the prophet said, “As the Lord liveth, even what my God saith, that will I speak”. Here was a man who was unpopular with Ahab because he the truth from God, and who consequently suffered for his convictions. This is the kind of preaching that is sorely needed today in the light of diminished moral standards. During Gospel meetings the voice of God is unmistakably heard.

Thus in John 21. 6 the blessing was so great that they were taken by surprise, and yet their nets withstood the strain as recorded in verse 11. When blessing comes like this to local assemblies, we can only say, “It is the Lord”, v. 7. Here there is no room for self or the flesh, but room only for praise to God and the acknowledgment that God is sovereign. The point here is that the disciples were able to cope with the catch, whilst the challenge to us is, can we cope when blessing comes and are we prepared to act accordingly ?

The remarkable thing in this account is that Jesus had prepared a feast for them before they landed their catch, and His invitation in verse 12 is “Come and dine”. But even more wonderful was the fact that He wanted them to have fellowship with Him in the feast, and consequently said to them in verse 10, “Bring of the fish which ye have now caught”. This attitude recalls John 11 where the Lord wanted the disciples to have fellowship with Him and told them to roll away the stone from the grave of Lazarus; they were to share in this wonderful event.

Christ wants us to have fellowship with Him in His service. For instance when we come to the prayer meeting we should come prepared and burdened with matters for prayer so as to be able to enter into the spiritual exercise. Or, when we come to the Bible reading we should come prepared by prayerfully studying the portion under consideration, so that we shall be able to contribute something to the spiritual feast from the Word of God. Yet again, when we come to the breaking of bread meeting we should come prepared, after having meditated during the previous week, so that we come to the meeting with a deep appreciation of Christ, taking part in the meeting as the Spirit leads and ministers. But do , not forget the gospel meeting; come prepared in faith to see blessing. Be prepared to help those in need; be prepared to lead a soul to Christ.

Jesus still asks the question, “Have ye any meat?”. Make quite sure that the answer will never be no.


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