Many men and women are obsessed with fishing. It’s not just a shallow pastime for them but a much more spiritual endeavor that demands knowledge, the right tackle, and practice. Serious fishermen will always be looking to buy a better boat, browse the sporting goods isle in search of that one perfect lure and camp near mosquito infested lakes, streams and ponds just for the thrill of catching fish.
I know what that feels like because I am also a fisherman of sorts. Fishermen have a desire so strong to catch fish that they will easily jump out of bed at 3:00 A.M. to be at their favorite fishing hole before sunrise. Now, while I have caught the occasional wayward fish by using the wrong bait in the wrong place haphazardly throwing out a hook, I admit there is much, much, more to being a bona fide fisherman than leaving it to chance.
The first men Jesus called to become disciples were ordinary fisherman. After being rejected, in his home town of Nazareth, Jesus walked down to the northern end of the Sea of Galilee, to a fishing town named Capernaum. Arriving there in the morning he singled out two fishing boats and four men who had been out all night together fishing. These men were making their living at it but unfortunately had been unable to locate any fish that night. These fishermen were cold, tired and not ready to listen to anyone speak even if it was the Lord.
As the sun was coming out, Jesus walked out into the shallow water and got into Peter’s boat. Once he was there he sat down and began teaching the multitudes who had gathered on the shore to listen to him speak. When Jesus had stopped teaching he turned to Peter and said “Launch out into the deep and let your nets down for a catch.” Luke 5:4.
Now Peter was tired from an exhaustive night of throwing out the nets and hauling them back in empty and was not ready to take orders from anyone. Eventually, Peter complied with the Lord and let down his nets as the Lord had instructed. The resulting catch was so heavy that it broke the net as it was being hauled in.
Jesus told another similar fishing story, this one after his resurrection, where he instructs his disciples, after another long night of not catching fish, to let down the net one more time but on the right side of the boat. Once again the net was so full of fish that they could not get it into the boat and had to have the other disciples help them drag it into shore. “Simon Peter went up and dragged the net to land, full of large fish, one hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not broken.” John 21:11. In this second story the net did not break!
Later on, during his ministry years, Jesus told a story about the kingdom of heaven being like a dragnet. In his story, God’s net caught fish of every kind and when it was pulled back to shore the good fish were gathered into vessels but the bad were thrown away. He goes on to explain that at the end of time the angels will come forth and separate the wicked from the just. There will be a great judgment as the just go into eternal life and the wicked are destroyed.
In the story of the dragnet, both the good and the bad fish were caught in the net. The net represents God’s judgment and all men are appointed to stand before their Creator. Some will be forgiven their sins and allowed to enter eternal life and the rest will choose to deny Jesus Christ and will be destroyed.
Before Christ died, the net broke; the broken net represents the law and our inability to keep it. However, after Christ died, the net after his resurrection did not break because the “Way” of salvation was made complete, perfect in Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
God’s net of salvation is sure and it will never break. However, every person has to make a decision before death arrives to accept Jesus as the Lord and receive God’s free gift of salvation. However, if a man rejects Christ, before death, then there is no net to catch him.
Today, Jesus is calling all Christians to be “fishers of men”. It’s not a friendly suggestion or calling on a select few but a blanket statement for all Christians. So do we have the knowledge, do we have the right tools and do we spend time in practice? Jesus promised to make us “fishers of men” if we would only be obedient and follow him!