Today we have a really big fish story – the tale of the amazing catch. As is often true with Jesus, the story is the message. Here, Jesus is beside the Sea of Galilee (aka lake of Gennesaret), with a crowd to teach. He goes out a little way from shore in a fishing boat and teaches them – but there’s no mention of what he says. Instead, the story becomes the teaching. Jesus suggests to Simon (Peter) that he put out into the deep water for a catch. Peter had fished all night and caught nothing, but he does what Jesus says.
You know the ending: their nets filled with an overwhelming number of fish. Peter, James, and John were all amazed and a bit afraid. Jesus then give the punchline: “Do not be afraid. From now on you will be catching people” (or, “fishers of men” in an older version). The three men left all those fish and followed Jesus.
When life seems as if we are trying harder and harder, but not making much progress, we get demoralized. We dream of a breakthrough – an amazing catch of fish! Why can’t Jesus give us the magic key so that our goals can be reached, our longings realized?
Yet in this story, as soon as the fisherman get the amazing catch they’ve always dreamed of, they realize that that’s not their true calling. When their eyes are opened truly to see and know Jesus, they desire only to follow him. All those fish become irrelevant. What might this story be saying to us today, in our own strivings, our own frustrations? What if we opened our eyes to a new calling? JBM