fruitage of the spirit's journal

Expressions from the Heart

Of Fish and Crosses

Of Fish and Crosses by Julie McAllen

And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Simon answered and said, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.” 6 When they had done this, they enclosed a great quantity of fish, and their nets began to break; 7 so they signaled to their partners in the other boat for them to come and help them. And they came and filled both of the boats, so that they began to sink. 8 But when Simon Peter saw that, he fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9 For amazement had seized him and all his companions because of the catch of fish which they had taken; 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” 11 When they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed Him. (Luke 5:3-11)

Mormon fishers of menSimon Peter calls Jesus “Master.” Even though he’s exhausted from working all night at his fishing trade, as an obedient follower of Christ he goes the extra mile to toss in his net one more time just because ‘Jesus said so.’ Can you relate to this? I was thinking about congregational settings when I read this. Like, how the words of Jesus may be read and obedient people who consider Him to be their Head, Master, or Lord will do the thing commanded.

We hear “go and make disciples” and obediently throw in our nets. We hear a message on Matthew 25 and obediently feed the hungry, clothe the poor and visit those in prison. Those who respect the Bible and trust that the words of Jesus are recorded in it are prone to do these things simply because “Jesus said so.” In this, we are being like Simon Peter who called Jesus “Master” and threw in his net.

But today as I was reading, in addition to Simon Peter’s obedience, I also noticed his reaction. The account showed his ability to follow direction from the Master, but I’m not so sure Simon was prepared for the blessing. I don’t think he cast his net thinking something like “if I obey Jesus and do what He says, I’ll get my reward,” he simply followed orders from the Master and was surprised at the outcome. When this reward of fish filled his net, he didn’t attribute it to his own obedience either. To the contrary, Simon Peter was more aware of his SEPARATENESS from God in the blessing rather than his CONNECTION to God. When the haul of fish came in, he realized the power behind it and fell down at the feet of his Master acknowledging his sin! What a lesson in humility when we’re being abundantly blessed!

The account raises some questions to ponder. If we call Jesus our Master and obediently follow the things written, is it because we think we’ll gain heaven? Is it because we think He’ll fill our nets with new disciples/fish? Are we fishing for a reward or just doing it because ‘Jesus said so?’ And what happens when we receive the things for which we pray? How do we react when suddenly the net is filled? Do we immediately brag up ourselves or give the glory to the Church or organization we belong to with a false sense of security that we must be in the “right one” since the reward is in our hands? Or do we hit the deck in amazement as Simon Peter did knowing we’re in the presence of The Almighty immediately recognizing how insignificant we really are? Glory to God if even one fish swims into our net today. Jesus did not end His command to fish with “…and if you obey, you will catch,” rather, He already GRANTED it to them saying, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

And catch they did! And of course, an argument over which of them was the greatest was the natural result of such favor being shown. One was catching more than the other, so they argued over who was doing it right. And it’s still going on today among His disciples — we’re only human — but “my church is better than your church.” We may not be so bold as to give glory to ourselves, but how many times do we give credit to the boat we’re in because of some favor upon which it’s afloat? The fish are coming in and so we “think” it’s due to our efforts, but in reality Jesus just lead us to where He already determined the fish would fall into the net. And when that favor comes, what is the reaction? Humility or the pride that asks which one among us is the greatest?

The Holy Spirit laid a lesson on me as I read this account about “fishers of men.” Am I amazed at the feet of Jesus recognizing my sin that I might point others to the only one great enough to bare them or am I so busy pointing everyone to the fish I’ve caught in my great net that no one else can see the real power behind such favor?

In giving a witness, It’s not the net full of fish that we’re to lift up, no one sees their sin and separation there. We’re to lift up Jesus and let men see their separation at His cross.

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32)

When Simon Peter recognized who filled his net, his shame and separation moved him to say,  “Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man!” But the purpose in getting us to recognize our separateness is not to widen the gap, God’s promise is to draw us closer to Him and prepare us to receive more blessings, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.” He will draw men to Himself through the nets we cast upon the waters in which He’s directed us to fish, but don’t look too long at the net, keep your eyes on Him.

The Holy Spirit is a Wonderful Teacher. May you be blessed today as you encounter Him in the pages of your Bible, for God’s Word is Truth.

Keep yourself in God’s love, Julie

July 31, 2013 - Posted by | According to Scripture, Expressions, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , ,

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