A Good Day Fishing
On May 21, 2017, many of you helped me surprise my wife, Nan, on our 40th anniversary by renewing our wedding vows here at church. More and more couples today are doing that…as a reminder of that special day…to rekindle the love that brought them together…and as a remembrance of where it all began.
Now you may ask, what does marriage vows and fishing have in common? Well, I’m getting there…but first I did hear a story about a mother and her daughter who were frying fish. The mother said, “Let me pass along a secret to you that my mother gave to me. You can fry a fish and feed your husband for a day or you can teach him to fish and get rid of him for a whole weekend.” This is a wise woman.
Now about fishing, the disciples had been out the entire night on the Sea of Tiberius, which is also known as Lake Galilee and caught nothing. It’s frustrating when you try and try and not even a bite. Ever try at something and fail? Ever wonder why something didn’t work out? Ever feel like a failure…ever want to just give up? We all have.
A man walked upon a young boy sitting beside his fishing pole. From his body language, it was obvious the boy hadn’t caught anything. The man said, “This lake has “Private Property-No Fishing” signs posted everywhere. So why are you fishing in my lake?” In disgust, the boy replied, “Sir, I’m not fishing…I’m just teaching these worms how to swim.”
Well, one morning Jesus was walking along the shore when He called out to the disciples to “cast their net on the right side of the boat”, if they wanted to catch some fish. Even though they didn’t recognize Him, these fishermen by trade…wanted to catch some fish, so they obeyed Him. Now why would they listen to a stranger? Ever been fishing…all night long…and not catch anything…you’ll listen to anyone.
Well, their obedience filled their net with 153 fish…yet the net didn’t break. Now why mention the strength of their net? Because the disciples had been here before…just 3 years ago. But they had forgotten. Too much has happened. The past 3 years have been life changing. They left their old life behind and chose to follow a stranger…a man from Galilee…a carpenter’s son. They have seen miracles, heard His words change lives, and then just a few days ago, witnessed His death upon a cross. Now, they have lost their focus…forgot their calling…they need their vows renewed.
Let’s look back in Luke 5:1-11. Notice the words of assurance, “Do not be afraid” are followed by their calling, “From now on you will catch men.” Never doubt who’s in control. Jesus has never changed that calling…and it still applies today…to all of us!
Three years earlier, there were so many fish their nets began to rip. The harvest of souls was ready. Today, many more souls are lost but we are not strong enough…not capable enough…to save them. They’ll fall through and back into the sea of life. But Christ is strong enough and more than capable to save them all…every one of them and it’s His desire that no one should perish but everyone should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
Through His sacrifice upon the cross, God’s net of salvation can hold any sinful person who seeks forgiveness. Those who put their faith and trust in Him will not slip through. Jesus told His disciples, “As the Father has sent me, I also send you.” (John 20:21) This time the net will not be broken…because we are sent by God to be fishers of men.
Did you notice that when the disciples landed, Jesus had already cooked for them? Now they had a boat load of fish, so why not wait and cook from their catch? Because Jesus is painting us a picture of how we should meet and serve the needs of others.
Each one of us is called to serve in different ways. Not everyone can be on the sea fishing. Someone must build the boat, mend the nets, and cook the meals. Each one of those roles are important…they make up a team. Each of you have your own talents and gifts but it is up to you if you’re willing to use them.
Now, if you’ve ever been fishing, you know you must prepare in advance to go. As God’s fishermen, you must bath your efforts in prayer before you head out on that spiritual fishing trip. So, when your best efforts fail…when you’re not getting a nibble…pray. Rather than getting frustrated or discouraged…pray and pray some more. You might just hear a small voice telling you to “cast your net over there”, if you want to get those people or to call that person or visit this neighbor. Focus first on His Word and prayer…then God will bring you the catch.
What is Jesus asking of you this morning? His calling of the disciples is also our calling. So, what is He asking of you…and what will be your response? Will you join me…on God’s fishing team?