Part 1: The Offer
Simon was at the end of a long, fruitless shift. He and his buddies had forfeited a night’s sleep to go fishing, but the tilapia weren’t biting. The final clean up and sluice down of their gear was almost complete. Most of the nets were hanging out on their frames to dry. Shafts of sunlight were slipping over the crags of the lake’s eastern hills warming the fishermen’s backs. Simon was thinking only of bed when he heard the bustle of shopkeepers and their morning patrons moving toward the shore. One voice stood out among the rest and Simon looked up to see whose it was. He knew everyone in these parts, and he’d never seen this tall stranger who seemed to draw such a crowd.
“What…?” Simon stifled a surprised grunt as the stranger, still talking, moved toward the two scows resting onshore. He boosted himself onto the gunwales of one of them, swung his legs over the side and sat down on, continuing to speak. It was Simon’s boat.
Simon took a step closer, not only in defense of his property, but to hear what this man was saying. As he did, the man’s gaze fell directly on Simon.
“Put out into deep water,” he directed Simon, “and let down the nets for a catch.”
“Really?” thought Simon. “He doesn’t know we’ve been fishing all night with no success. We’re tired. The good nets are clean and drying; only the old ragtag nets are left in the transom. There isn’t a breath of wind so it will mean rowing. Doesn’t he know we’re done fishing for the day?” Simon was not in the mood to be told what to do.
But Simon and his buddies found themselves agreeing, and rowed out to the deep parts, leaving the crowds on the shore. And there, in the middle of the lake Jesus gave them a taste of what meeting Him means. Ragtag nets were barely tossed to sink below the surface when they were full of writhing, thrashing, flippers and fins. Hundreds of them.
The men’s reaction must have been awestruck, open-mouthed fear because Jesus told them, ”Don’t be afraid.”
He also told them, in a way, that they were done fishing – not just for the day, but forever. He had a higher calling for them. Those fish could go to the people onshore, but from then on, Simon and his buddies would be fishers of men and women, if they agreed.
What did that mean to Simon and Andrew, James and John, the first disciples that met Jesus? Maybe more relevantly, what does it mean to us, to you and me who live here and now, two thousand years later? Do we meet Jesus too?
I believe the answer is yes. The theme of everything we read in the Bible points to this one truth: Jesus is a man for all people and all times. He meets every one of us. Every person gets at least one chance to hear His offer and respond. You do and I do. It may not be at a Middle East lakeside setting, but He will come into your world, call you away and make you an offer. Then it’s up to you to decide: stay with the status quo, do your own thing and forever wonder what it would have been like to follow Him, or say with some fear, ‘yes’.
Jesus, meet us today. Help us put aside our fear long enough to hear your offer and recognize it as our hearts’ true longing. Boats, nets and fish aside, help us follow You.