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Summary: The phrase “I will make you fishers of men” has never meant much to me, I just cannot relate to it at all. Here we find out the true meaning of that phrase one that does relate, and one that gives you power if you could only see. Read on …

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Word Count: 1951

Isaiah 6.1–8, (9–13 Psalm 138 1 Corinthians 15.1–11 Luke 5:1-11

Summary: The phrase “I will make you fishers of men” has never meant much to me, I just cannot relate to it at all. Here we find out the true meaning of that phrase one that does relate, and one that gives you power if you could only see. Read on …

This sermon was delivered to the congregation in St Oswald’s in Maybole, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 7th February 2010: by Gordon McCulloch (A Scottish Episcopal Church in the Dioceses of Glasgow and Dumfries).

Please join me in my prayer.

Father I ask that the words this morning are your words and not my words; that they speak for you, and glorify you. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight.” Amen.

Our reading this morning comes from the book of Luke in the New International Version (NIV),Chapter 5: Verses 1-11 where Jesus Calls His First Disciples: “One day as Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God. He saw at the water’s edge two boats, left there by the fishermen, who were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch. Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.

But because you say so, I will let down the nets. When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him”.

Introduction:

This morning’s gospel reading is familiar to most of us, where Jesus tells Simon Peter and his fishing partners where to cast their nets, and even though they have not caught a single fish all night, they do exactly what Jesus tells them to do.

And lo and behold, all of a sudden there are so many fish that their nets that they are about to break; in fact the catch is so great, that they have to go and get more people to help haul this catch on board. Then Jesus tells them that if they follow Him, he will make them “fishers of men”.

Now most people take away some good basic messages from this text in the form of; “Jesus can work miracles”, and “can make something out of nothing”, and “we should therefore listen to Him, even when what He says doesn’t make sense”.

However, I think there’s a much deeper meaning in this verse. When we come to a passage as familiar as this, often we can not see what it says in its entirety, as we have heard the same old party line before; and we think that we have been there before. We tend to say, “seen it heard it and done it”; and so with this passage we say, “I have read it hundreds of times … not to mention the sermons I have sat through. Here we go again, there is not much left to learn” … or is there?

Let us look at this passage more closely, and as Jesus Himself was fond of saying, “For those who have ears, let them hear.”

First, let’s look at the scene. This isn’t a scene where the people are seeking Jesus; or his wisdom or salvation. This isn’t some speech that Jesus gave in the synagogue, no, these were rough men, hardened fishermen, who were probably using a colourful language to describe their frustration over having been out on the water all night long with no fish to show for it.

They were probably exhausted, and thinking more about where their next meal was coming from, and how good a warm bed would feel. I am sure they were not thinking about salvation and eternal life. They had a job to do, and it was not going well. They were probably thinking about nothing else.

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