Jesus is beside Lake Galilee and a crowd is pushing to get closer to him. He escapes the scrum by getting into a boat with a fisherman named Simon. Then he teaches the people on the shore. When he’s done he asks Simon to take the boat to deep water to catch some fish. Simon protests that he caught nothing all night, but he agrees to try. Sure enough, they catch a ton of fish, so many that their nets are breaking.
Simon falls down before Jesus, saying he is a sinner. His friends James and John are also amazed by Jesus. Jesus tells Simon not to be afraid, and tells him from now on he will fish for people instead of fish. The men from that day left all they had to follow Jesus.
Here Jesus acquires some of his disciples with the help of a miraculous catch. Then he brings them along to catch people with him. I’ve done some fishing in my life and it comes with no guarantees. It involves attracting the fish in some way, hooking them, and bringing them aboard a boat or up to a dock and then to shore. It’s a combination of work and good fortune–or perhaps the good fortune can sometimes be a miracle. These men had worked all night without a catch until Jesus stepped in. The same can be true for fishing for people. We can work our little hearts out at church to attract people and evangelize and run programs, but it takes some Jesus to actually catch any hearts and bring them to God. We do our part, but we must stay in sync with God to do his work.
Please also note where Jesus begins his ministry. He doesn’t go straight to the temple in Jerusalem, the religious hot spot. He will eventually get to that, but he starts out in the countryside in smaller towns. He goes straight to the people, not to the religious leaders. His heart is for those on the margins, not for the rich and powerful.
Today’s story is at the early part of Jesus’ ministry. He goes into Galilee to tell people about God. He tells them that God’s kingdom is near and they need to change their hearts and believe the Good News.
One day as he’s walking by Lake Galilee, he sees two brothers, Simon and Andrew. They are fisherman so of course they are doing their work and throwing a net into the lake for fish.
Jesus tells them, “Come, follow me, and I will make you a different kind of fishermen. You will bring in people, not fish.” They immediately stop fishing and follow him. I love the idea of this. Here are these two regular guys out fishing for a living. Jesus walks up and is like, “OK, quit that and I’ll teach you how to fish for people.” And they’re like, “OK, let’s go.” In the version of this story found in Luke’s gospel, more happens (you can read it here) but it’s amazing to imagine these two guys just dropping their nets and taking off with Jesus. How amazing Jesus was and is to affect people that way.
Jesus continues walking by the lake and sees James and John, who are called the sons of Zebedee (they are also brothers). They were preparing their nets on their boat. Their father and other men were also in the boat. Jesus also told these brothers to come, so they up and left the boat, leaving their father and the other men to follow Jesus. Again, there’s more to the story in the link above in Luke’s gospel. Again I love the idea that Jesus so wowed them that they abandoned their profession right then and there and went to follow him.
What are you prepared to change in your life to follow Christ? Is there anything you need to abandon to be a true Christ-follower? How can you change your heart and life to really follow him?
Jesus continues with parables about the Kingdom of God. Interesting, as a child growing up in the evangelical church, when I heard God’s Kingdom, I thought it was talking about heaven, but that’s not really what he’s talking about if you actually read it.
Here are all the things Jesus says God’s Kingdom is like in this reading:
Mustard seed–starts small, grows into something huge)
Yeast–little bit of yeast makes all the dough rise
Hidden treasure in a field–worth selling everything else to gain it
Fine pearls–again, worth selling everything to gain it
Fishing net–catches so many people, good and bad–good gathered up and evil to be thrown into the fire
That’s a lot to unpack. The kingdom of God starts out as something tiny but grows into something huge and worth everything else in life. And it will gather up both good and bad people and throw out the bad.
I like this part:
Then Jesus asked his followers, “Do you understand all these things?”
Finally Jesus says that teachers of the law who have learned about the Kingdom of God now has new things to teach. It’s like he has new and old things in his house and he “brings out the new with the old.” There is value in both the new teaching of Jesus and the old teaching of the law.
Who are you in the Kingdom of God? Are you helping the mustard seed to grow into something amazing? Are you spreading the love of Christ? Or are you doing evil? Go into the world and do good today.