Goin’ Fishin’—Calming the Waters

“You won’t believe the one that got away, Jean. It was bigger than my arm.” That was my daddy telling me about his fishing trip. He called me Jean. We’d laugh because we both knew he was telling a whopper of a tale. When you think of calming the waters you naturally think of fishing.

Daddy loved fishing like he loved life. He spent many hours fishing and when he could talk me into it, I’d fish with him. It was our time together. He taught me how to bait a hook, which baits caught which fish, and how to clean a fish. Of course, I always wanted to throw the poor fish back into the lake. But Daddy said God made the fish for man to eat. It’s all part of the circle of life.

My Uncle Bennie was a great fisherman too. He loved being out on his boat at the crack of dawn as he fished the day away. He’d bring home so many fish for my Aunt Ruby to clean and cook. Sometimes he brought home so many fish they’d have to freeze them or give them away. One of his greatest pleasures was taking my daughter, Noel, fishing with him when she would go to visit. They were a sight to behold. She visited with Uncle Bennie and Aunt Ruby during the summer. Uncle Bennie would take her to have her fitted for a fishing outfit. Shoes, hat, vest—the works. She loved every second of it.

I come from a long line of fishermen. As for me, well, I enjoyed it from time to time but not like my daddy and my Uncle Bennie. They were true fishermen.

You know, Jesus didn’t know anything about fishing. He was a carpenter. This one day, however, He came upon these fishermen. By this time Jesus had become popular. He’d been teaching and healing. More and more people followed Jesus to the lake this particular day. Jesus talked to the people about love especially God’s love for His people. The crowd seemed to be growing larger and larger. Jesus asked Simon Peter if He might go out in his boat so He could talk to the people as they were crowding in around Him. It made it possible for Jesus to sit in the boat and project out to the crowds.

When He completed His sermon, Jesus turned to Simon Peter and told him to drop the nets out in the middle of the lake. Simon Peter was like what? He was a professional fisherman. He knew what he was doing. He didn’t need a carpenter telling him how to fish. Besides no one casts their net out in the middle of a lake. Simon Peter said, “Look we’ve been out there all day and caught nothing. You don’t know how to do this.” But then Simon Peter said realizing who he was talking to, “Okay since you want me to I will.”

Photo by AMIT UIKEY on Unsplash

They threw down the nets. They pulled in so many fish their nets broke. When this happened, Simon Peter became ashamed. He saw in Jesus in all His holiness. He told Jesus to get away from him because he was a sinful man. Jesus replied, “Don’t be afraid because now you will become fishers of men.” How about that for a fish story?

Are you unwilling to listen to others? Unwilling to listen to Jesus? If so, you might get stuck. Have you thought of doing it another way? Jesus’ way? Maybe, just maybe Jesus has another way of doing things. Would you entertain the possibility that Jesus just might have a better way to do something? Do you balk at that? I know I do. I believe when we do this Jesus says, “Okay then knock yourself out.” But if you keep doing the same thing over and over again with the same results—well that’s called insanity.

The humility shown by Simon Peter is so attractive. So unexpected. Godly people are that way. They don’t see themselves as great. They are humble. Humility makes for a great disciple. The fact that Jesus chooses to be in the boat with us; that’s called grace. Thanking God for that grace should always be our response.

The “from now on” part is the key to going forward and being a fisher of men. So how do we do this? Follow the example of Jesus. Put out in the deep. Go deeper into your relationship with others. Show grace and love.

If we are to lead others to Christ, we might want to think about preparing the bait in such a way that it’s more attractive to those we want to catch. If we do this then there’s the possibility of a net effect. This is the way to Jesus. The way to abundant life. Simply put, Jesus really does have a better way.

There’s a fish called St. Peter’s Fish. It’s actually tilapia. At the Sea of Galilee, you’ll see thousands of people who flock there to explore the towns where Jesus lived. They look for the place where He gave the Sermon on the Mount. They search out the synagogues where Jesus taught and preached. Some look for that very spot where Jesus performed the miracle of the loaves and the fish. Where he walked on water.

In the Book of Matthew Jesus instructs Peter to go fishing in the Galilee. He explains to Peter that the first fish he catches will have a silver shekel in it. He was to use the shekel to pay the Temple tax. Like always what Jesus tells Peter to do happens. Indeed, the fish he caught had a shekel in its mouth. It’s said that the fish Peter caught was a kind of tilapia.

Photo by Food Photographer David Fedulov on Unsplash

Today, restaurants all around the shores of the Galilee offer what they call St. Peter’s Fish. It’s served whole—head and all and is either fried or grilled. St. Peter’s Fish is not only found along the shores of the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret) but also in the northern half, from Tiberias to Ein Gev. Another great fish tale!

How are you in the humility department? Do you fall short of what God’s standard is? When we look at Peter, we see that he finds that he isn’t anywhere near where he should be. He feels beyond sinful. He doesn’t even feel worthy to be in the same boat with Jesus. But God chose Peter. Not for Peter’s goodness but because of God’s grace. This grace is for everyone.

When Jesus tells Peter from now on, He means from that point on He wants Peter to become a fisher of men. He wants him to go forward and share the good news of God’s grace.

The message is clear. Our lives become the bait with which we attract people to the message that God’s grace is for each of us. So…from now on….don’t just tell the fish story make the fish story a reality. Do it Jesus’ way.

Be sure to remember your dad on June 20th.

And that’s what I learned in Church……see ya next time!