Fishing with Jesus
1Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, 2he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; those who were fishing had gone out of the boats and were washing their nets. 3Jesus got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When Jesus had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. 7So 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. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9For Simon and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; 10and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching human beings.” 11When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed Jesus.
And the most amazing thing about this story, is that Jesus picks ordinary folks for this extraordinary work. He didn’t pick people who had memorized the scriptures, he didn’t pick the religious leaders, he said to the poor second class, people that smelled of fish parts, the ones whose hopes were dashed the night before, to begin the work of building the kingdom and fishing for people to encounter with the deep waters of amazing grace. Which means, that Jesus picks us for that work as well, even if you feel unlikely, unable, or unworthy – God by virtue of your baptism has appointed you to this work – to work for justice and peace, to proclaim the word of God through word and deed. So as Zoe’s parents make promises to help her to come to understand these things as she grows, I ask you to think about how these promises we make in baptism are how we continue to fish for people – hear the word of God, go out into the deep water of places of trouble in our world, cast our nets of hope, and catch people with amazing grace. What I learned this week at the conference was that the church is not suffering from empty nets, it’s suffering from a lack of people who want to go fishing as Jesus teaches us to do. It’s no magic trick on how to create overflowing nets, Jesus taught us how to do it, so whose ready to go fishing?!?