The Berean Expositor
Volume 12 - Page 96 of 160
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son of Joseph, the Messiah. Nathaniel's confession, as it were, adjusts the focus, and He
is seen as the Son of God and the King of Israel. From His own lips now comes the title
the Son of Man.
The sign of walking on the sea reveals Him as the "I AM" (6: 20), while the feeding
of the 5,000 leads on to the title "The bread of life" (6: 35). In the sign of the man born
blind (9:) Christ is revealed as the Sent One, and immediately following the confession
of the man born blind comes the title "The Good Shepherd" (10: 11). At the raising of
Lazarus is revealed that blessed and majestic title "The Resurrection and the Life"
(11: 25). Thomas' confession, "My Lord and my God" (20: 28), and that of the disciples
"It was the Lord" (21: 12) round off the wondrous list. The signs were wrought with the
object that they might believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God; and that
believing they might have life through His Name (20: 31).  Each sign contributes
something to our knowledge and understanding of the Christ.
One item in the final sign has always presented a difficulty, and that is the number of
fish brought to land, viz., 153. The number is too definite to pass by. It must have a
meaning. From earliest days men have displayed a varied ingenuity in explaining the
meaning of this number. Dr. Bullinger, in NUMBER IN SCRIPTURE, draws attention
to the fact that the gematria of the Hebrew words Beni Ha-Elohim "Sons of God" is
exactly 153. It is also suggestive that the gematria of the word "fishes" ichthues and "the
net" to diktuon are both 1,224 or 8*153. If we may be allowed to see any teaching in
these facts, the final sign emphasizes the certainty that all who have been given to Christ
by the Father shall come to Him, the presence of the 8 in the words "fishes" and "the net"
occurring in the 8th sign emphasizing resurrection. Appendix 176 of the Companion
Bible, speaking of the first and last signs, says:--
"When Messiah gives joy to the nation, it will be filled up to the brim (2: 7 cf.
Isa. 9: 2-7.  John 21: 11);  and when He fills the Land with restored Israel in
resurrection, it will be to the last one (Ezek. 37: 12-14). For in the eighth sign
Messiah was the Caller, signifying that He will be the Gatherer" (Jer. 31: 10).
Lt.-Col. F. ROBERTS  has present another interpretation which amplifies the
foregoing. He has drawn up a list of those that Scripture records as having received
direct blessing from Christ, and this list totals 153 individual cases. We will not attempt
to repeat the list, but it may be consulted by any interested in NUMBER IN
SCRIPTURE. Peter and the other disciples were to be fishers of men. The Risen Christ
stood by them. Their net should not break, and they should lose none. In their own
strength they would toil all night and catch nothing, but upon His word they should let
down their net and catch a net full.
Should any reader be in possession of further light upon this subject we shall deem it a
favour to hear from them.