Most of the time, these weekly columns are my personal thoughts. You get to look into the muddied waters of my cranium. Some days I wonder why anyone would read this column.
Well, this week I have to give credit to someone else who provoked the thoughts you are about to engage. I had the opportunity to hear Rev. Josh Lake speak. It was like a glass of ice-cold water on the hottest day in August here in the Lowcountry. He connected with my soul.
I hope I do his sermon justice. If not, blame me for sure. Josh was talking about Jesus showing up in John 21 when the men went fishing after the resurrection.
A lot of times, we focus on Peter being restored after he denied Jesus three times the night Jesus was crucified. Other times I’ve heard sermons focus on Jesus telling the disciples to put the net on the other side of the boat because they were out all night and caught nary a fish. Instantly, the net is loaded with somewhere around 150 fish of good size.
As Josh worked with the congregation through John, he mentioned there was a second miracle that morning. I sat there thinking, “What was that?” I have read this story numerous times and I could not come up with a second miracle. But there was, and John the apostle recorded it.
He wrote, “The net was not torn.” Does anyone remember what James and his brother John were doing when they were called the first time by Jesus? In Matthew 4 it says, “…mending their nets, and he called them.”
Fish nets in those days were not designed to haul in 153 fish. Fishing nets tore often. But on this day, when Jesus said to put it on the other side of the boat, it was not going to break. Those words are not there just to make the story sound better. They are there to point out that, when Jesus is involved, the nets don’t break.
One would think the apostles would be out looking for Jesus. Instead, for some reason, maybe boredom or hunger, Peter decides to go fishing. We have no reference to Jesus involved in the early part of this story. The fishing without Jesus came up empty.
Sounds like our lives, doesn’t it? We go out and make decisions and live a life while often forgetting about Jesus. Sometimes we are simply distracted by all the crazy issues around us. We, as sheep, often go astray, the Word says. It’s just life.
The cool part of the story is Jesus showing up. It is awesome that he not only supplies for those who followed, he proves more than enough. But it’s not easy. It was not easy to haul in all those fish. They didn’t have fishing boats like today. They had boats we probably would not even think about getting into, much less haul in a load of fish. They might have even feared the haul would sink the boat.
They may have also wondered what they were going to do with all the fish. They only needed a few for breakfast. They could easily be distracted by all the fish. For sure, they would be worried about the nets. I can see them now, inspecting them. “Hey, it didn’t break. How is that possible, guys?” one may have asked.
This story has so many elements of our lives in a world that is often distracting and confusing. As a believer, I have great faith that Jesus will show up. But better yet, the net won’t break. The net could be the feeling that we can’t take any more of what life is throwing at us. It could be some of the natural results of our fallen decision-making. But the net won’t break when Jesus says to cast it.
I find it interesting that the boys went back to what they knew before Jesus called them. Often when I have no idea what Jesus wants, I think about going back into the business world or begin checking the job listings. Sometimes, when I want to be in control, I want to take the reins and run with them. I want to be the potter. I want to be the king. I want…. I want…
But my nets will break. Guaranteed. They always have.
So, instead of doing what we want to do, we do what Jesus said in Matthew 11. We give our burdens to him. We tell him. Then we sit back and listen and watch. There is one thing we don’t have to worry about. The net won’t break if we follow what Jesus guides us to do. Again, it won’t be easy. There will be plenty of things to distract us. There will be some moments of headaches and struggles. We won’t understand it all, even though we want to.
But one thing is for sure. If Jesus is nearby, the net won’t break. Thank you, Josh Lake, for reminding us of this truth.
John Ring is director of Hope for the Community. He can be reached at [email protected]