Growing up there was no one in my family that hunted or fished. There were farmers, businesspeople, servicemen, business owners, homemakers and teachers. But no hunters or fishermen. Fish usually came frozen from the grocery store and we did not have to kill or clean any chickens or turkeys. But when I married Barb, I married into a family of folks who both hunt and fish. Brothers and sisters in law, nieces and nephews...many of them hunt and fish. And they are good at it. The first time I was introduced to fishing I was in a boat with two brothers in law and a nephew. I had never even held a fishing pole much less used one. They were patient and gracious. We were in Canada, so I am quite sure I was just lucky. Fishing is often very good there and I managed to catch my limit...a couple of times. We caught both northern and walleye. There is nothing quite like fresh caught fish pan fried in a bit of butter.
There are many places to go fishing...lakes, rivers, ponds and streams. There is one very famous place where people fish, the Sea of Galilee. Matthew tells us Jesus was walking along beside the Sea of Galilee and He saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting their net into the lake for they were fishermen. Jesus called to them come follow me! A bit farther along they came upon two brothers, James and John...sons of Zebedee. Jesus called to them too. All of them dropped what they were doing and followed Jesus. He promised them they would no longer catch fish but people. For that they would need neither nets nor poles.
Those disciples Jesus called had no idea what fishing for people would entail but Jesus was a compelling figure, and they were drawn to Him. Jesus is still a compelling figure. We are drawn to Him as well. No, we do not get to sit on a hillside and listen to Him teach, but it would be away cool. And I am guessing there are many of us who would like to have Him heal various ailments. While we do not have that either, we have the scriptures that tell us what Jesus said, sitting on a hillside. One of His greatest teachings is called the Sermon on the Mount. You can find that in Matthews gospel, chapters 5-7.
There are many ”fish” stories in scripture. In Matthew 13:47 we read these words of Jesus, ”Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and gathered fish of every kind.” This short teaching is very similar to the separating of the sheep and goats. When the net is full it is pulled ashore. The good fish are kept and the bad tossed into the fire. It is a sobering picture. But it got me to thinking that Jesus casts His net all over the world. He is catching people from every race, color, tribe, language and ability. Sometimes when people fish, they only fish for one kind of fish. Some fish for trout only. Others like lake perch. And some fish only for trophy fish like marlins. Jesus fishes for every kind of fish there is. After all He had a hand in creating all of them...and all of us.
We have seen Peter and others fish all night long and catch nothing. Jesus told them to try once more, cast your nets into the deep. Peter began to argue and then was obedient. What they caught was a net so full of fish it took the men from another boat to help haul it in. It reminds me of the day of Pentecost when Peter preached about Jesus and thousands came to faith. The net from his fishing for people was full to overflowing then too.
Perhaps it was the small boy himself, or maybe his father who caught the two fish that ended up with five small loaves of barley bread. It was these fish and that bread that Jesus used to teach that He is the bread of life. Jesus always used common ordinary everyday things to teach about. He used things people would know and understand.
We are called to fish too. Not with pole or net, but for people. We too have common and ordinary things to use for teaching. We have Jesus words. Some of us have committed verses to memory. That was my favorite grandma. I was convinced she had the whole Bible memorized. She not only taught me about Jesus with those verses, but she taught me many of the verses. We know the story. Jesus left the splendor of heaven to take on human flesh and live among us. He lived as we do except; He did not sin. He taught, preached and healed. He made God's love known. He taught us how to treat people and how to love one another. He loved us enough to take every one of our sins upon Himself. He was willing to pay our debt, to die on the cross. He willingly fought the powers of sin, death and evil and won. He rose victorious so that we will have an abundant life in Him now and eternal life after this life is over. Jesus gives peace and hope. He strengthens and sustains. His grace is abundant and His love limitless.
He does not give us these things for us to keep them to ourselves. He given them to us to share. That which made Him so appealing to the fishermen He called to follow, is ours now. We carry His light and His love. All those things I have listed above, we are called to share with others. That is how we fish. We share. We love. We offer grace and the hope of Jesus. You don't need any equipment except His word. And you do not need a license. Where will you go fishing next?
In His grip
Pastor Matt W