Summary: Looking at the dual mission of the church & the challenge to get at it!
By Hook or By Crook!
“Every day is Resurrection Day for a Christian.” Every day we should celebrate the fact of the resurrected Savior. We must be challenged to rise above apathy & mediocrity & to soar to greater heights with our great God. Do we really love Jesus? Really? Has Jesus made a difference in your life, or is it the same old stuff on a different day? At the time of this Scripture passage, as far as the world was concerned, nothing had changed. Tiberius was still the emperor in Rome. Pontius Pilate was still the governor of Judea. The Sadducees & the Pharisees were still fighting among themselves. Jerusalem was still Jerusalem. As far as the world knew, nothing had changed, everything was exactly the same.
But the world was wrong, because the resurrection of Jesus made a difference. It made a difference in the lives of the disciples of Jesus. The men & women who followed the resurrected Christ were never the same again. To them every morning was an Easter sunrise! The world might have looked the same, but the way in which they lived in that world would never be the same again, for Jesus was alive! Every day was Easter! He had won the victory over sin & death. Thus, Paul could write, "Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through Jesus Christ, our Lord." Looking at the early church it had a spirit of excitement & joy in serving the Lord & advancing the Kingdom of God throughout the world. The Holy Spirit used them & sent them throughout the known world spreading the gospel. They were ready & willing to serve wherever & go to any area the Lord chose to send them. Language posed no barrier. How many of you are bilingual? I often wish I would have learned another language. I remember my Dad & grandparents speaking Italian. My mom would get upset b/c she had no idea what they were talking about. I often have trouble with English. There are times when I am somewhat grammatically challenged. I may use the wrong tense or phraseology, so I make up my own! It is a fact that the English language is one of the most difficult to learn. The English language, especially the Americanized version has many idioms & figures of speech which are difficult to understand. They can confound and confuse both English and non-English speakers. For instance: “How can a “slim” chance and a “fat” chance be the same? How come a wise “man” and a wise “guy” are opposites? Why is it that when a house burns “up,” it burns “down?” How is it that you fill “in” a form by filling it “out” and that an alarm clock goes “off” by going “on?” There is an old figure of speech in English that says “by hook or by crook.” How many have heard or used that particular phrase? “By hook or by crook” means, “By whatever means possible” or “whatever it takes to get the job done.” It has been suggested that this figure of speech had its origin from a custom in medieval England. Peasants were permitted to take any deadwood from the royal forest that they could reach with a shepherd’s crook or a reaper’s billhook. Others suggest that this phrase came into usage with the translation of the NT into English in 1380 by John Wycliffe. It’s said that this phrase was derived from our Scripture today. John 21 uses both images, the hook (fishhook) & the crook (shepherd’s staff) to symbolize 2 important ministries the church is to be passionate about: evangelism & nurturing. From this passage of Scripture we see the restoration of Peter, & we also the essential mission of the Church. We, the church, are called to “shepherd” the flock of God & to be “fishers” of people, giving them opportunity to find a relationship with Jesus Christ through the gospel. This is our task. It’s not just a job for super pastor, but it is the job of every person who calls themselves Christian.
Both jobs: fishermen/shepherds are good, honest occupations, but light years apart. Logic tells us that you cannot be a good fisherman if you spend all your time with a herd of sheep; & you cannot be a good shepherd if you spend all your time on the water. The same kind of tension is often found within the church. Some say the main mission, the #1 priority of the church is that of evangelism, reaching lost people w/good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are others who adamantly believe the main mission of the church is that of shepherding, caring for & tending to those already in the fold; nurturing, discipling & loving the sheep. Which one do you believe is our mission? Which one should take priority, the fisherman’s hook or the shepherd’s crook? Answer according to God’s Word is BOTH. We DO NOT get to choose. Our mission as represented in Jesus’ commissioning of Peter, includes both. We, the church, are called to be fishermen & shepherds. In which of these two callings do you see yourself? Are you a fisherman, or a shepherd? Some are more gifted in reaching others for Christ, while others are more gifted to nurture. There are those gifted & passionate about fishing & those who are gifted & passionate about shepherding. So ask yourself: