THE MAGIC STORYTELLER
"Once when He was standing on the shore of Lake Genessaret, the crowd was pushing in on Him to better hear the Word of God. He noticed two boats tied up. The fishermen had just left them and were out scrubbing their nets. He climbed into the boat that was Simon's and asked him to put out a little from the shore. Sitting there, using the boat for a pulpit, He taught the crowd.
"When He finished teaching, He said to Simon, 'Push out into the deep water and let your nets out for a catch.' Simon said, 'Master, we've been fishing hard all night and haven't caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I'll let out the nets.' It was no sooner said than done -- a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. They waved to their partners to come and help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch." Luke 5:1-7 (The Message).
Jesus was still alone. According to Luke, He had not yet chosen any disciples to train as a rabbi would do. He was an itinerant teacher, a very popular one, judging by the crowds He drew, so much so that He had to use a boat as a pulpit to save Himself from being pushed right into the lake!
This was one of those occasions. He was apparently still in the vicinity of Capernaum, a town near the Sea of Galilee or another one of the lakeside towns. The people were enthralled by His message -- not anything like the teachings of other rabbis who came and went.
What was He saying? What was so fascinating to them? Was it just what He said or was it the miracles He did that drew them? Probably both, but on this occasion His words were magic to them. Jesus was a master story-teller. He needed to be because His audience was a group of simple village folk. What He was communicating to them wasn't common-and-garden everyday stuff. He was talking about mysteries too deep for them to understand.
Jesus was always about the kingdom of God. He was introducing them to a way of life that was totally foreign to them, like "turning the other cheek" and "going the second mile" and farmers sowing seed, and shepherds hunting for lost sheep. He told a story for every situation and they were trying to piece it all together. They didn't want to miss a single story in case their puzzle was incomplete.
The kingdom of God is like a diamond. How does one describe a diamond to someone who has never seen one? Like two blind men trying to describe an elephant! It's like this. No, it's like that. So many facets! The only way He could get the truth across was by telling many stories. It all makes sense to us now -- or does it? But for those people then it was a mystery and they wanted to hear more.
What do you make of the incident of the big catch? Why did Jesus do that? Was He concerned because the fishermen were going home empty after a whole night of fishing? Was He showing them something; telling them something? If you read on, it doesn't seem to be about lost income because they abandoned their catch to follow Him.
How do we interpret the miracle of the huge catch? Did Jesus see them there and simply redirect the fishermen? Is that possible when He sent them to the deep water away from the shore? I think there is a much simpler explanation than that. Like all nature, the fish obeyed Jesus' word. Remember the wind and the waves? When He spoke, they all gathered at the right spot to be swept up into the fishermen's nets.
Why did He do that? Was He just "showing off"? I don't think so. That was not His way. If His followers were to continue His ministry after He left, they had to be absolutely sure of who He was. That was the crucial question He asked them after they had followed him for a while. "Who do you say that I am?" If nature obeyed Him, so should they.