Summary: Christ calls us to fish with his grace and to catch others for his kingdom, even as we have been caught.
Saturday mornings I usually catch the “Fishing Report” on WWL AM 870. The host offers all sorts of fishing tips for the area -- advice on what kind of lures or bait to use in certain water temperature and depth. He talks about when it’s best to fish and where to fish -- all good advice. I need all the advice I can get because I’m not a super fisherman. Our Savior understands the fundamentals of fishing better than anyone. He’s the perfect fisherman. What’s amazing is that he invites us to learn from him as he sends us out on a unique fishing expedition. So, LET’S GO FISHING! 1) Not Because We’re So Good, but 2) Because He’s So Gracious.
1) Not Because We’re So Good
The one thing that strikes me about this section of Scripture is that Jesus is telling professional fishermen how to fish. These men knew how to fish. Fishing was their livelihood. Above all, Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John, knew the bitter reality of fishing: sometimes you catch something and sometimes you didn’t.
Have you ever watched one of those sports fishing shows? I’ll stop to watch a few minutes of one, but then I have to change the channel. It makes me sick to see them pull in fish after fish, one lunker after the other. It’s then that I have to remind myself that a lot of editing goes into producing one of those shows. There’s a side that you don’t see – cast after cast without a single bite! How many hours those professional anglers must spend on their bass boats waiting to record a few minutes of footage of them landing the “big one.” It leads me to wonder what makes someone a professional fisherman.
What about these disciples? Why would Jesus choose them? Were they that good? Let’s look at what Jesus saw. “As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.” It’s pretty obvious why Jesus chose these men, isn’t it? They were fishermen. They weren’t pro anglers. Instead, they were commercial fishermen. They had a different perspective on fishing than us recreational fishermen. These men were not concerned with catching the trophy bass. They were simply focused on filling their nets. They didn’t care much for the size or species. These fishermen just wanted to catch fish! And Jesus didn’t choose them because they considered themselves the best. He chose disciples who were simply willing to catch fish. He chose these men to go out and share the good news of salvation with all people. That was his fishing trip!
Consider how that applies to your life as a disciple of Christ. Christ has sent us to do some fishing as well. Often we’re tempted to look at ourselves as the “pro-angler” when in reality we’re the awful novices. We might be tempted to join an Evangelism Committee or invite our neighbor to church because we’re looking for the trophy fish. That type of thinking might have an impact on the kinds of people we invite to church. Perhaps you’ve found yourself saying, “Wow! That family across the street sure is in need of help. Quite frankly, they’re a mess! What problems they have! I don’t think I’d want to invite them to church. What would other people think?” Maybe you were tempted to not catch anything at all. You may have helped your church make visits to others, going out and knocking on doors, and secretly you were hoping that no one would be home. You’d rather go back without a nibble for fear of wrestling a “whopper” into the boat.
As fishers of men we can also be very selective about our fishing holes. I’ve heard the argument that it’s a waste of time trying to reach out to families in Abita Springs. It’s dry. There aren’t any prospects around here. We should be focusing our efforts in Mandeville or Covington – after all that’s where the keepers are. We’re tempted to think that only certain fish ought to meet our criteria, and that we’re only going to share our faith with people who share a common interest, or with people who really seem worthy of our time. What pathetic fishers we are!
That’s precisely why our Savior likens service in his Name to fishing. He does this to show us that we aren’t as good as we think. People are not just going to come and jump into your net. It’s agonizing work – sharing the gospel. It’s tough to beat down the sinful flesh long enough to get out the door with the right motivation. It’s even tougher to get to the “fishing hole” and keep the right perspective. Yet, Jesus sends us out. He allows us to share the gospel whether people will listen or not. And that changes everything. We realize we aren’t pro-anglers. And our Lord never meant us to be. We, too, needed someone who cared enough to consider us a “keeper” in the faith.