As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
– Mark 1:16-20
“I have sometimes heard the comparison drawn as though believers had a hook and a line, which they do not. Our business is not to entice a fish to swallow the bait but to cast the net all around us and lift sinners out of the element in which they lie, into the boat where Christ is.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermons
Fish stories, hmmm.
I used to go fishing with my cousins from Florida. When they came to visit, we’d get cane poles and go to the pond. Sometimes, we didn’t even need any bait. We just put the hook into the water and the cork would bob up and down. The fish were small. We threw them back into the pond, but we were entertained.
Years later, my brother and I went fishing together. He was nine years older. He had a john boat, and we would fish on a couple of lakes. But then he brought his fiancée along one time. While he negotiated the electric fence for her to cross, I jump over the fence, found a rusty lure in the sand, and used it for my first cast. I thought that I had the rusty hook caught on a log. I called for my brother. He muttered something that I could not hear. (It was probably good that I could not hear it.) When he caught up with me, the bass jumped out of the water. I struggled, but I landed the fish. It was the biggest fish I ever caught, about eight or nine pounds, I think – a largemouth bass. (It was big enough to be a meal for eight people.) There was a problem. The fish was too large for my brother’s bucket or the rope that he strung the fish onto. The fish was strong enough to pull the anchored end of the rope out of the ground. As a result, we went home before he had his opportunity to impress his future wife with his fishing skills and knowledge. No way would he catch a bigger fish. He was far from pleased.
As a result, we only went fishing one more time – when my mother ordered him to swallow his pride. We fished. Okay, I fished, and he paddled the boat around, not fishing, not even wanting to talk. The fun was gone. Since that time, I went fly fishing with my uncle once in Wyoming where I caught a rainbow trout. Small, barely enough for my breakfast the next day. I have done some casting, but there has never been any joy in fishing since. I fished to be with my brother, because it was what he liked to do.
Jesus called His disciples His brothers. He told Simon, who became Peter, that he wanted him to fish for men.
Spurgeon suggests this type of fishing is by using nets, as Peter had done on the Sea of Galilee. I like the mental image provided by Spurgeon. We don’t hook the fish. We just pull them up to the surface into the presence of Jesus.
The Scripture above is repeated in Matthew and Luke, but only in Luke 5:1-11 is the story told about casting the nets and getting a large number of fish. This started Peter’s journey following Jesus. No wonder that Peter dove into the sea and swam for shore when the same thing happened again as told in John 21:1-14, when 153 large fish are caught in the nets. The two stories are the same, and they provide bookends for the ministry of Jesus as He walked the shores of the Sea of Galilee.
What is our problem today when it comes to fishing? Do we have a lack of joy because we do not see our brother in the boat with us? Are we too busy mending the nets? Do we fear choppy waters? Are we afraid of the sharks in the water?
We must know that our Brother is with us. We must know that our Brother will calm the seas and even silence the sharks. Because it is our Brother who told us to go fishing in the first place, and He will not leave for us to do the task alone. He is with us always. Praise you, Jesus, my fishing partner.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.