A New Question
This morning I had a thought that had never occurred to me before.
It is probably more honest to say I experienced a Spirit prompted question that revealed something which had, up till now, remained hidden.
What happened to all the fish?
My morning devotional reading led me to Luke’s gospel, where Jesus is standing by the lake of Gennesaret teaching. The crowd pressed in to better hear what he had to say. Nearby there are some empty fishing boats. The men are cleaning their nets after a long night out fishing.
Jesus steps into one of the boats and asks Simon, the fisherman, to put out from shore just a little. Jesus continues to teach the crowd from the front of the boat. Once the teaching was over Jesus instructs Simon too,
put out in deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.
Simon protests. It has been a long, hard night of fishing with little to show for his efforts. Simon is recorded as saying,
Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.
A Fishing Miracle
Simon and his team let down their nets. They catch such a large number of fish that their nets begin to break. Filled with excitement, they signal to other fishermen who rush out and start to fill their boats. Fill their boats to the point they begin to sink.
Simon and all his fellow fishermen were amazed at the large catch of fish. Simon Peter falls at the feet of Jesus.
What follows is fantastic. Simon, along with his partners James and John, the sons of Zebedee, drop everything and follow Jesus. They become the first disciples to follow Jesus. Luke 5:11 says,
they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
What happened to the two boatloads of fish?
That was my first thought this morning as I read this passage of scripture.
What happened to all the fish these men had just pulled from the water and piled into their boats?
Scripture says they left everything and followed Jesus.
In the past, I have focused on the fact that these men left careers, livelihoods, identities (as fishermen), families, communities and followed Jesus. I have been challenged to question how I would have responded to the invitation of Jesus to leave it all behind and follow him. This story has challenged me to think about how I am following Jesus today.
What am I willing to leave behind to follow Jesus?
This morning my focus was on all those fish. What happened to those fish?
Some Fishy Thoughts
I can imagine the crowd benefiting from all those fish. As the crowd who was listening to Jesus that day began to disburse and head home, there was no need to go to the market. On your way home, grab a fish or two from the multiple boats filled to capacity left sitting on the shore. What a blessing.
I can imagine some of the fishermen who stayed behind looking in amazement at their good fortune. With the amazing catch of fish, there would be no need to go out the next few nights to labor and struggle to provide for their families. Process what was there, and it would provide for a long time.
I can imagine a smile on Jesus’ face as he leads Simon, James, and John down the shore. A smile that reveals he finds their faithfulness and commitment a blessing. A smile that says, if you are excited by this, you have not seen anything yet.
How I move today
The longer I thought about all those fish, I began to think about how I live and move today.
Simon was faithful. He was obedient to Jesus’ invitation to drop the nets. The blessings that resulted certainly changed Simon’s life, but they overflowed and blessed the wider community.
Simon could have just as easily said, “No, I am tired. We did not catch anything all night. I was ready to head home, and you made me sit in this boat while you taught this crowd of people. Enough is enough, I have reached my limit, I can do no more. It is time to go home. We will try again tomorrow night. Only a religious teacher would suggest fishing during the day. All good fishermen know you do your work at night.”
We certainly would not have faulted Simon. In fact, I can relate well to that line of thinking. I have spoken it myself when I have sensed the Spirit’s tug to move in a certain direction. I am weak. I am tired, I have nothing left to give, please let me rest.
Moving through my morning, I was struck with how Simon’s obedience (to let down his nets) and subsequent faithfulness (in following Jesus) led to the blessing of a wider community.
Simon was not concerned with gathering and keeping all the blessing for himself; he left everything behind and followed Jesus.
Gathering (hoarding) the Blessings
How often do I, do we, try and gather up all the blessings leaving none for those around us.
I can hear the conversations.
Jesus, I will be right with you. Give me a few hours to get this fish to market. Then we will have plenty of money for our travels.
Jesus, what are we going to eat along the way? Sit, rest for a few moments while I prepare some of this catch for our journey.
Jesus, this worked wonderfully today. People came to hear you teach. We caught lots of fish. If we stayed here you could teach, we could fish. We could sell the fish to the crowds that came to hear you teach The fish could finance your teaching ministry. Have you given thought to simply staying here and having the people come to you?
Each one of those ideas sounds reasonable. Therin lies the danger. Quite often, the invitation of Jesus runs counter to what is considered reasonable or wise by worldly standards. The Kingdom of God asks us only to be faithful, to respond in obedience to the invitation to “pick up our cross and follow.”
Simon, James, and John left it all behind, including a tremendous catch of fish that blessed those who remained…and they followed Jesus.
Is there something that Jesus is inviting you to leave behind as you seek to follow him?
Where is God inviting you to put down your nets? Where is God inviting you to do something that might not be the most rational, make common sense move, but you feel the Spirit’s invitation non the less?
As you continue your spiritual journey, are there blessings that should be left for others while you continue forward?
How have you benefited by the blessings left by others that have gone before you?