I’m not a very good fisherman really. The last three times I took my 5 year old son fishing we spent a combined 4 hours on the lake with one, yes ONE, fish to show for it. Maybe I don’t have the patience. Or maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing. Perhaps I’m not the only one.
When Jesus calls His first disciples in Luke 5 He tells them they will become “fishers of men.” This fishing motif will become a theme of the early church that has lasted all the way until today. Seen any of those Jesus fish car decals lately? Jesus compares what we’d today call “evangelism” to fishing. But what does Jesus mean exactly when he uses this imagery of the fisherman?
Unfortunately the original fishing idea has been lost for the most part in our modern day images of fishing with a rod and reel. Modern fisherman carefully select just the right bait, set the hook in just the right place, and then wait…and wait….and wait some more….until some poor fish gets hungry enough and finally…there’s a bite! Then the fisherman will quickly, and rather violently, yank the fishing pole while reeling in the line just before grabbing the “prize” and throwing it into the boat. Sadly, in my opinion, this echoes much of modern day evangelism. Do you even need me to draw the comparisons?
To really understand what is underneath Jesus’ desire for His followers to “go fish” we have to look beyond the rod and reel and travel back into his culture. When Jesus walks to the shore in Luke 5, the fishermen are clearly not using a rod and reel or setting out bait. They are fishing with nets which is clear from the text of Luke 5:1-11. In fact, what makes the miraculous catch so stunning is that fishermen normally fish at night so that the fish wouldn’t see the nets. But after a long night of catching nothing, Jesus has the nerve to tell Peter and crew to put the nets back out during the DAY! Peter must have thought Jesus was crazy! Everyone would have known you don’t fish with a net during the day. Who does this Rabbi think He is? And after fishing all night any fisherman would be deeply exhausted by morning. Just after sunrise, Peter, James,and John would have begun the laborious process of cleaning, mending, and then gathering the nets because the condition of the nets are crucial for success. The last thing they want to do is get the nets out again. But this Rabbi says do it. And they do. Miraculously the fish swim right into the nets until the nets begin to break and the boats begin to sink foreshadowing the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 when Peter will also be a part of quite a miraculous “catch.” Would Peter need any more proof that this Rabbi is more than just a great Teacher? Evidently not. Because he, James, and John “pull their boat to the shore, drop everything, and follow Him.” Jesus has come to teach them a new kind of fishing that will change them and will change the world.
What does this mean for followers of Jesus today? We are to be a net. “Evangelism” is not a gimmick with fancy bait that lures people into our churches. We are called to be a net, a NETwork, of disciples who join together and enter into our world to love and to serve those around us. And to be a net, we must first learn to BE disciples. Jesus will spend 3 years teaching His own how to fish by being the “net.” After those 3 years of BEING disciples, they will be called to MAKE disciples in a revolution we call the church. We must learn to “fish” the same way. BE a NETwork of disciples and enter the world around you looking for people to love and serve. And when the time is right, night or DAY, Jesus will provide the “catch.” Maybe it’s time to rethink the way we fish. I think I’ll trade in my rod and reel.
For the WEEK 5 CLASS AUDIO, CLICK HERE to download.
The Talmidim Process
A few weeks ago we launched a discipleship process at Tusculum for adults who want to seek more fully to be like Jesus! We will be following Jesus through the Gospel of Luke and journaling the ways in which we echo the Story and “hagah” (hunger) over each Word. This is done through weekly readings in the Text, weekly small groups that journey together in the Text and share the journey with one another, and a weekly class that seeks to create a hunger for the Word more fully. The weekly readings will almost always be a few chapters ahead of the class but you are encouraged to go back and reread the section discussed in class. This week our daily readings will take us into Luke 8 & 9 as follows:
Thursday (July 1): Luke 8:40-56
Friday (July 2): Luke 9:1-17
Saturday (July 3): Luke 9:18-36
Sunday: Discussions with Life Group
Monday (July 5): Luke 9:37-50
Tuesday (July 6): Luke 9:51-62