Fishermen (Part 1)

Our theme “Dare to be a Daniel” is rather intense. It is for this reason that I want to break-a-way from it for a few days and then return again. On Sunday I was chatting to a sister in Christ who said her husband decided to go fishing for the day as he has been so busy, particularly at work, that he needs a breather. For many people, fishing is relaxing and helps them recuperate and reenergize for the next week.

As a young boy, up to being a newly married man I would go fishing with my dad. I could never understand how some men would stand on the beach with their rod with the line in the water for hours and hours, until I asked an elderly gentleman … “Sir, you stand here for hours with your rod in hand and line in the water. Every now and then your reel in the line, replace the bait, but never catch anything. Why?”

His response was … “My boy, it’s not about catching fish. It’s all about relaxation.” For a good number of years I worked in the Fishing Industry, not catching fish but doing repairs on huge trawlers. My workshop was on the jetty, a meter away from the water. It was interesting how the fishing culture manifests itself. It had its personality clashes but it was a brotherhood because when out at sea, should something go wrong, you need someone’s help … and you need it immediately. Often a skipper would travel many nautical miles to rescue a trawler or men from a trawler. This could take hours, cause loss of income (no fishing) and be extremely dangerous. Men who travel out into the ocean depths to fish have grit and courage. They are hardened to the conditions. At times they earn handsome salaries … at times the going is tough. It is rather interesting that the Lord Jesus called a number of fishermen to be his disciples. If possible please read John 21.

1) The setting is post resurrection.

Jn 21:1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias. It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

The place is the Sea of Tiberias. This is Israel’s largest freshwater lake, also known as the Lake of Tiberias, Lake of Gennesaret, Lake Kinneret and the Sea of Galilee. An interesting fact is that the lake is 21 kilometers from north to south and just 43 meters deep. Peter, Nathanael, James, John and two other disciples were together. Peter tells the group he is going fishing. All decided to join him. They were out on the lake all night and caught nothing. Most likely they feared for their lives because of their association of Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified … (the Jews, their leaders and Pilate and the Roman officials could not locate the body … but we know Jesus rose from the dead … and so did the disciples) … yet strangely they returned to their old profession.

1) They failed to catch any fish. Remember this was their previous trade. They fished for a living. Catching fish meant making money. They were out on the lake in a boat all night and failed to catch any fish … that night they caught nothing.

(1) All night … “that night” … Jesus meets them in the morning (See verse 4).

(2) The Greek for “caught nothing” does not mean there were no fish where they were … they just did not catch any. They did not “capture” any. It’s hard work going out all night expecting to catch fish and landing up with nothing. They failed. We tend to fail in many things and in many ways. It could be as an example … growing the Church. It does not mean there are no people around the Church … but it might be that we have not look in the right place or for the right people. Too often we decide on the type of Church we want and then only look for people who would “qualify” according to our predetermined design for the Church. I love the way Jesus responded to the teachers of the Law:

Mk 2:16 When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?” 17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Did you see that? His Church would not be comprised of the self-righteous, wealthy, middle class or the prominent people in society. O no! His Church was set up to have sinners as members. Whether you are a pastor or a congregant trying hard to build a local Church … don’t think you have failed in Church building … go and find sinners. If that was Jesus modus operandi then it ought to be ours too.

2) The value of friends. What is a friend? You would most likely tell me that you have many friends and describe the fun you have, etc. A friend does not mean you are always together or that you have lots of fun together.

Jn 21:4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. 5 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?” “No,” they answered.

Our Lord calls them “friends”. I was shocked to find out this words “friends” is actually “children” in the original. Not children as in a child, but children as in a loving, affectionate way … as in a family bond. They don’t recognize Jesus … but remember He is their Lord and King. He is King of the Kingdom and Lord of their hearts and souls. So the term “children” is endearing and relational. It is wonderful to realize that this is exactly how He sees us. Because we have all of Scripture we have far more exposure to God’s Word and mind than they had at that moment … so we are able to extend the concept of “children” to us being children of God. The apostle John helps us here:

1Jn 3:1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

We have a far more mature understanding of the word Jesus used (children) and John helps us to see this in the context of God’s eternal family. So here is the thought … if we are God’s eternal family, we as His children are brothers and sisters with a far deeper bond and union than blood family because blood family may not all be part of God’s eternal family. Please consider ways and means of expressing value to God’s children.

Thank You that believers are one. Amen.

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