The Job of a LifetimeBlog / Produced by The High Calling
Jesus said to Simon, "From now on you'll be fishing for men and women." They pulled their boats up on the beach, left them, nets and all, and followed him. (Luke 5:11, The Message)
My wife and I spent a week last summer on the Oregon coast. Since we both love fresh seafood, we went down to the docks to buy fresh tuna and oysters directly from the fisherman, and we spent some time talking to them. Fishing is a hard living, and fishermen aren't people to beat around the bush. For days at a time, they stay at sea, doggedly pursuing schools of fish, praying for decent weather, hoping not to lose their gear. Back at port, they're at the mercy of market prices. Even a large catch can mean only breaking even.
Fishermen probably haven't changed much since the days of Jesus’ meeting Peter on the Sea of Galilee shore. Fishermen still love the open ocean, the smell of salt water, the sight of nets straining with a catch.
I wonder if that passion led Jesus to ask to borrow Peter’s boat. Imagine Peter's surprise when Jesus tells him to put out and drop the nets. He didn’t mind Jesus’ using the boat as long as it wasn’t in use. But Jesus meddling with Peter’s livelihood? "Wait a minute . . . I don't tell you how to build cabinets . . ." Condescension drips in Peter's "Master, we've been fishing hard all night and haven't caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I'll let out the nets."
What happened next rocks Peter's boat, literally. In fact, the bulging catch nearly swamped two boats. And Peter realizes just who is in his boat. "Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. 'Master, leave. I'm a sinner and can't handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.'" Peter acknowledges the truth about Jesus—he calls him "Master." And Peter acknowledged the truth about himself—"I'm a sinner."
At this moment, Jesus offers Peter the job opportunity of a lifetime. Don't be afraid; come with me and we'll catch something worth catching. We'll catch men and women. The Greek word for catching men and women is zogreo—“to catch alive" or "to catch for life." Peter was concerned about fish; now he will be concerned about people—bring 'em back alive. Jesus tells Peter—and us—that disciples will catch people's attention the way fishermen catch fish. Did you notice that Jesus says Peter will catch men and women? Not “you might catch 'em,” or “sometime, if you're lucky.” Jesus says his followers will catch people naturally and easily.
Sharing our faith in Christ with others—through our lives, our work, our speech—can be just as natural and rewarding as a fisherman feels pulling in nets.