In the lesson today we are told about the miraculous
catch of fish. It is a fishing miracle!!
In fact, it is more than just a good fishing story something
mysterious is at work when the disciples obediently cast their
nets at Jesus suggestion and Peter's approval.
The result is not "ordinary" it is not even just "a very good
Instead, there is such a mighty haul of fish that is completely
overwhelming Even to the point of being a bit frightening as we
may notice by the mention that "they caught so many fish that
their nets were beginning to break." And "they signaled their
partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came
and filled both boats, so that they began to sink!"
This is no ordinary fish tale, but is an event of monstrous
proportions for Peter and the others. They have been transported
from their earthly profession of catching and selling fish to
literally SWIMMING in the presence of ALMIGHTY GOD!!.
Imagine Simon and his partners, James and John in this
At first they are caught up in the excitement of all those
flapping fish in their nets. They are busily tossing the fish into
the boats. "Wow, look at this one James!" "We'll be the envy of
the market today Simon!" "Stop gloating over your profits guys . .
., Great Whale of Jonah this net still more than half full!"
After some time -- the excitement begins to wear off as they
realize the immensity of the numbers of fish. Nothing like this
had ever happened before! "I'm getting tired, John -- stop playing
around -- you need to help us! The men began to get weary in their
struggle to unload the nets of thrashing fish, and still the water
was frothy with their splashing!
Perhaps it was at this time that Peter turned to look over his
shoulder at Jesus, still standing on the shore where he had
originally told them to "let down the nets for a catch." Was Jesus
laughing as he watched them wrestling to gather all those fish? Or
was he just watching observantly to see how the men would receive
and react to this message.
In Peter's mind an image began to form. An impression began to
settle over him.
The man standing on the shore who had told them to "cast their
nets one more time." Seemed to know all things. Jesus, who had
been teaching from the stern of Peter's boat a half hour ago was
now sinking Peter's boat with this overwhelming number of fish!
The more Peter must have thought about what was taking place
around him, the more ominous became the figure who waited
patiently on the shoreline.
Now pitching fish much more slowly while thinking of what Jesus
had said and continuing to watch Jesus who looked back through
Peter's life It happened:
Peter realized that God was at work in their midst!
This incredible catch of fish was an act of God! And suddenly
the water was like Holy Ground and the fish were like something
that should not have been had, and Peter wished he did not have to
worry over maintaining his boat and this fishing business any
longer. All of the years in the fishing trade began to mean
nothing to Peter, and realizing that the catch was from God, he no
longer felt an ounce of self worth, and so he turned away from the
nets that were still teaming with all those fish and he sloshed
his way back to the shore and "fell at Jesus' knees, saying, "Go
away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" And right there, Peter
had made the catch of his life -- he had come to the messiah, he
had recognized that Jesus is the Lord.
Through the flashing of fins and the splashing of water, in the
creaking of old wooden boats now burdened with their scaley cargo
-- Peter recognized that Jesus alone offered abundant life and
Peter was prepared to give himself wholly to Jesus. Peter was
caught by the net of God's love.
What about you? What about me?
Sometimes in our lives we have also felt led to go out and cast
our nets into the seas of life. Fishing takes faith and a kind of
sixth sense about what the waters may hold. Some of us have fished
in the world of business and come up empty handed (and empty
walleted $$!) . . . . others of us have cast our net looking for
love and to have our heart warmed by someone who would be faithful
and true to us but this net has not been filled or the one we
thought we caught slipped from our grasp and returned to the sea.
Still others of us have cast our net out in search of a cure
for what ales us, but have been disappointed by what was not
contained in the doctors report our net was void of the answer
we wished to hear.
If your efforts or mine have not resulted in a lasting catch of
value, we need to Take the fishing lesson that Peter learned from:
Jesus stands at the shore of our lives and casts the net of God's
love . . . .
Jesus may have laughed at the disciples as their boats began to
sink, but his arm is out-stretched to you and all who need comfort
and strength in life's hardships. Jesus is close by and desires to
stand with you or walk with all of his people whom he loves.
Finally, we turn our attention to a Third possibility of the
great catch. If you have gone through life thinking, "Were is my
great catch of fish? When is my ship going to come in? Boy, I
never seem to get a break!!"
If an "Empty Net" has unduly preoccupied your mind if you
feel as though the white capped breakers of the sea are carrying
you away from any hope of a secure landfall, and if you have
turned to look at the shoreline and not found Jesus waiting there
then consider this:
Perhaps you have forgotten that you are the great catch!!
Jesus has silently and invisibly lowered the net of the Gospel
down upon you and all of us who are the baptized!!
The Master fisherman that God is, has so silently and so
stealthily caught us in his net that we have been completely
blind to the salvation given on our behalf. . . .
What we need to remember is that we are, in fact, "born of
water and of the Holy Spirit" who is at work in our lives! By the
Holy Spirit, God has led us into being his children! He has lead
us into the tangle of his eternal love where he will keep us from
all harm. All that is needed is for us to stop thrashing around in
the net and be calm in his loving arms.
Finally, recognizing that we are his people, inheritors of
eternal life, and living as a holy people in the church -- we are
called to cast the net of the Good News of Jesus over others. And
to do that we need to first experience the net over ourselves and
our loved ones. We need to be active, as was Peter, in falling on
our knees before Christ the Lord and confessing our unworthiness,
but also embracing the mercy and love that Christ came to give.
Then, recognizing that we are "In Christ's Net" we go forth to
include others in this great Fishing Story.
Let us Pray
May this be so dear Lord, and may we teach our children to be
aware that they too are beloved of God -- in the net of Christ's
Praise to you O Christ our Lord. Amen.
more writings of Pastor Jon