04 February 2010

Jesus Teaches How to Fish for People

Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. Luke 5:1-11

  • Jesus sat down when he taught the crowds.  What a beautiful image and posture for a teacher to have with his students.  One time, I preached from a pulpit in a heritage-listed church building.  It was about five feet above and ten feet away from the audience.  I do so much more enjoy studying scripture with people who are sitting together comfortably in a room.  Sometimes, I am very tempted when I'm preaching at a church to just pull up a chair beside the pulpit, read a passage, and ask "Why does our Father tell us about this?"
  • Jesus, non-fisherman, gives professional fisherman, Simon, some fishing advice.  Simon is clearly a touch annoyed, but to his credit, follows the instructions anyway.  Quite often, I am given instructions without knowing what the result or purpose will be.  As someone who likes to understand everything, this makes me quite uncomfortable.  Following Jesus means ceding my need to understand to the one who understands everything.
  • Simon's boat caught so many that he had to call another boat in for help.  In the Kingdom of God, it's okay to ask others to help out with important tasks.  In fact, it's a requirement.
  • Maybe I'm reading too much into this, but Luke calls him Simon Peter instead of Simon when he exclaims his understanding of who he is in relation to Jesus.  Simon was his given name and Peter was the name given to him by Jesus.  
  • Make no mistake, people are what matter to Jesus.  He teaches his disciples how to catch people.  His primary focus is teaching his followers how to lovingly convince others to "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
  • "They left everything and followed him."  These four fishermen (three of whom would form Jesus' inner discipleship circle) saw immediately who Jesus is and left everything they had known and ventured off into the unknown.  This is the embodiment of living by faith.

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