Dissecting a Fish Story

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.”
Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.”
When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.  So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!”  For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon’s partners.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.”  So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.

  • Luke 5:4-11

“Why should we be willing to drop everything and follow Jesus Christ?  And what happens when we do?  I can think of at least six reasons.
1. Jesus chooses not to minister to others all alone. …
2. Jesus uses the familiar to do the incredible. …
3. Jesus moves us from the safety of the seen to the risks of the unseen. …
4. Jesus proves the potential by breaking our nets and filling our boats. …
5. Jesus conceals His surprises until we follow His leading. …
6. Jesus reveals His objective to those who release their security. …

  • Charles R. Swindoll, The Finishing Point

By Rev. Swindoll’s first point, we know what happens.  This is the calling of His first disciples.  The second point is that Andrew and Simon Peter are fishermen, but it is rare to catch fish in the heat of the day when the fish are near the bottom, staying cool, and even more rare when the fish were not interested in coming up for food the night before.  The third point is that Jesus directed them to deep water and had Peter trust Him by having Peter take action.

The fourth point is obvious as the nets began to break and the ship was ready to sink under the weight of the fish.  The fifth point is rather subtle.  In Luke 5:5, Simon calls Jesus, Master, but in Luke 5:8, he calls Jesus, Lord.  Jesus told them what to do.  Jesus knew the outcome, but Simon, to be named Peter later on, realized that this was no ordinary teacher that he was with.

And six, they left everything, even the fish.  Sure, it could be that Zebedee came along and gathered the fish, but all we know is the action of the first four disciples.  They left everything and followed Jesus.

Rev. Swindoll writes this managerial analysis of Jesus’ leadership style to show that He calls us in the same manner.  We are called into service by Jesus to further His kingdom.  He often takes our present skill set and hones it before He reveals how He wishes for those skills to be used.  He then suggests that we set out into deep water.  Not literally, but we are placed in a difficult situation where we must take action.

That reminds me of the story of the game warden and the old man.  The game warden had heard stories about the old man, but he wanted to check it out.  He and the old man went out in the old man’s boat.  When they got to the middle of the lake, the old man lit a stick of dynamite and threw it into the water.  The dynamite sunk beneath the water surface and then exploded.  A bunch of fish floated to the surface and while the old man gathered fish into the boat, the game warden started telling him that what he had just seen was not the right way to fish.  The old man grabbed a stick of dynamite, lit it, and tossed into the lap of the game warden.  The game warden protested, threatening to arrest the old man, but the old man calmly said, “Are you going to talk or are you going to fish?”

Have you had a “talk or fish” moment?  God may send one or two our way before we really know what our calling is.

Then, Jesus tests us further.  Where we must risk everything that this world affords us to follow Him.  If we were fishermen, it might be the breaking of the nets and the sinking of the boat.  Have you had those kinds of experiences, where you seemed to be blazing a new trail in uncharted waters, at least uncharted for you?  But the odd thing is that you draw upon the skill set that Jesus waited for you to sharpen.  And the really odd thing is that you hardly noticed the transition.  You just responded to the situation.  At this point, you think that you are bobbing and weaving in a prize fighting ring, totally outmatched, making up rules as you go, but Jesus has it figured out already.

And then, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit really, whispers your true calling in your ear.  What did Andrew, Simon, James, and John do?  According to Scripture and Rev. Swindoll, “They jumped at the chance!”

I can picture much of these six steps in my life, and in that order.  At times, I felt that life on this earth was nine parts Hell and only one part Heaven.  I stayed in deep water a long time, but that is one of the experiences that I write about.  God was with me the entire time, making sure my skill set improved until He was ready to poke me in the right direction.

Vance Havner said this.  “Sometimes your medicine bottle has on it, ‘Shake well before using.’ That is what God has to do with some of His people. He has to shake them well before they are ever usable.”

That is me, shaken well, and I think Rev. Swindoll is right about Jesus hiding His surprises until we follow His leading.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

2 Comments

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  1. Shake well before using. Ha! That pretty much sums up my life!

    Liked by 1 person

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