Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Beach (07/04/05)
TITLE: A Fish is Just a Fish
By Sherri Ward
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Jesus stood on the shore and watched Peter and Andrew, brothers, fishing. What went through His mind? Perhaps a romantic song that had not yet been written, “You must remember this, a fish is just a fish!” (Okay, not the right words.) Maybe He smiled as He thought about the threshold these fishermen were about to cross.
[Matthew 4:18 – 20, NASB: And walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” And they immediately left the nets, and followed Him.]
Catching fish had much value to Peter and Andrew. They made their livelihood from setting out daily in their boats from the beaches of the Sea of Galilee. To fish all day and catch nothing was a cause of concern – what would they and their families live on? It doesn’t seem likely that a stranger, who stood on the beach and said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men,” would get much reaction from them. Perhaps a chuckle, or maybe they would have said, “Go away. We have work to do!” To each other they surely would have laughed, and said, “Who is this nut?” But to drop their fishing nets on the beach, and to follow such a man? Inconceivable! And yet, they did, and Jesus knew they would.
Did they have any idea who it was who spoke to them? What did they see in this stranger? Had they heard just enough about a man from Galilee who claimed that the kingdom of heaven was at hand to make them drop their nets on the beach and follow him? Did they have just enough hope, faith and vision in something more than day to day living; just enough to drop the fishing nets on the beach and follow a stranger who would make them ‘fishers of men’?
Whatever they thought they knew or understood at this beginning time, from further reading of the gospels, it is obvious they were not yet perfect in faith. After Peter got out of the boat to walk on water he instead began to sink. Even after he had confessed Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, when the way became too hard he denied Him three times.
Were the fishermen discouraged after the death and burial of Jesus? How could all the wonderful plans and visions that had taken shape over the three years of following Jesus take place now? What were they to do? Was it time to go back to the beach, pick up the fishing nets they had left behind, and resume day to day living? At one point Peter seemed to do just that. He was with several of the disciples and announced, “I am going fishing.” So, they joined him in the boat and fished all night but caught nothing. [See John:21:2 -3]
God had a different perspective. He knew all His plans were going just fine. We find as we continue on in John 21 - the risen Jesus stood on the beach at daybreak. He performed a miracle – a net so full of fish it nearly broke – and then He fed them breakfast. After that, He rallied the team, so to speak, and gave instructions. “Do you love Me? Tend My lambs!” Peter and the disciples went on to live lives of significance, fishing for men just as Jesus said, and converting thousands – who also converted thousands, and so the gospel spread.
How about you? Have you left nets behind on the beach? Is there a former life that sometimes when the way becomes too hard or confusing, you consider returning to? Don’t give up when things don’t turn out like you thought they would, and you just don’t understand what’s going on. The answer isn’t in the past you left behind. You must remember this, a fish is just a fish… or, you can fish for men and make a difference for eternity.
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