I’d never really gone fishing before I got married. But, fishing is something my husband loves doing and it’s a family past-time for him, so he taught me how that first summer. I must be brutally honest, though. I kind of pseudo-fish. Meaning, I really don’t ever touch the fish. Or the worm. I just kind of cast it out and reel it back in. But, that’s more than I’d ever done before, so I give myself at least a little credit. 🙂 I enjoy going out to the middle of nowhere with him, though, and reading in the dead quiet while he fishes. It’s so peaceful. I love it.
This morning’s sermon was all about evangelism. The Associate Pastor did a really good job pulling from different passages from Jesus’ life about evangelism. The first one really caught my attention, though, and I found myself thinking more on that passage than the others. The passage was Luke 5:1-11, where Jesus called Simon Peter, James, and John to be some of His first disciples.
The three of them had been out all night fishing, which was their profession. But, these experienced fishermen had caught nothing. Jesus used one of their boats in order to teach the people for awhile. When He was done, He told them to go back out and cast their nets. Peter was awfully skeptical, but they decided to go anyway, just because Jesus told them to. They ended up pulling in more fish than they’d ever caught before, so much that their boats began to sink and they had to help each other bring in their catch. Immediately, Peter realized he was not worthy and knew that Jesus was much more than a good teacher. But, Jesus calmed his fears and told him from then on, Peter, James, and John would be fishers of men. The men left everything and followed Jesus right away.
I found a few things interesting about this passage:
- First of all – these were experienced fishermen. They did this all the time for a living. They used giant nets and pulled in huge quantities of fish to sell every single day. They knew when it was a good time to fish, where was a good place to fish, and when and where was not good for fishing. When they told Jesus they had fished the entire night and gotten absolutely nothing, they were serious. I’m sure they were discouraged. This was their livelihood! But, just because Jesus said to do so, they went back out to do more fishing.
- They caught the biggest amount of fish ever during the middle of the day. In fact, they had to call over more help because their boat was starting to sink. And all this because they merely did what Jesus asked them to do when it seemed unreasonable.
- After they came to shore, Peter realized Who Jesus was. He realized this catch had nothing to do with him and he was completely unworthy of any of it.
- Jesus told them they’d all be “fishers of men” from then on. Imagine – they had just seen the biggest catch ever during the most unlikely time of the day after an unsuccessful night of fishing. Now, Jesus is telling them that they will be doing essentially the same thing, only their “catch” will be people.
- They left everything immediately to follow Jesus. This meant they left the biggest catch they’d ever seen, which was their entire livelihood, to follow a Man they barely knew to a destination unknown.
Jesus is calling us to do the exact same thing. He wants us to trust Him and follow where He leads us. We need to go to places that He wants us to go in order to reach people who are lost. This may not be the most comfortable place. He may call us to a slum or far away from home or even across the street to the neighbor who is exceptionally rude to us. One thing is for sure, though: He will send us to where there are the most “fish” who need to be “caught.”
Jesus wants us to expect great results. The disciples pulled in the biggest catch of their lives and then Jesus compared fishing to evangelizing. It was almost like He was saying, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” When we share the gospel, we need to expect huge results – bigger than we dreamed possible – big enough that we need help “reeling” them all in – because we’re simply doing what Jesus has asked us to do.
We need to realize that any results that come from our “fishing” have nothing to do with us. It is Jesus who does the real work. All we need to do is obey.
The disciples left everything in order to follow Jesus that day. Everything. I wonder what all was involved in their “everythings?” I bet it included their jobs, large Jewish families, friends, home, safety from the Romans in charge of the country, steady income… I wonder what else? It was obviously a sacrifice. But, it was also worth their very lives. As far as we know, every disciple died as a martyr. Peter himself was crucified upside-down because he did not want to die the same way as his Lord. But, you never hear any of them complain about the lives they led after they were called.
As I enter this new year, I find myself so anxious to get on with life it’s almost unbearable. I’ve been waiting to be a full-time missionary since I was seven years old. And yet, have I really been waiting? Or have I just been waiting to leave the country and continue this job? This year, I’m looking forward to a new step in the direction Jesus is leading me. I look forward to “reeling in” lots of fish in a different country. But, I’m bothered about leaving behind everybody here who still hasn’t been “caught in the net.” I’m glad my friends are staying behind because somebody needs to go fishing here in America.
May 2009 be one awesome year of fishing for every one of us. May our lines break, our nets rip, our boats sink, and our arms get sore from reeling in all the lost souls of this world! I’m so glad Jesus is standing on shore, cheering us on in this intense labor, waiting for us to come home with our catch.