Leave your nets behind

19 Aug

Peter and John were two ordinary Joe’s. They were salt of the earth kind of guys who made their living as professional fisherman. Not the most lucrative of occupations; the hours were long , the work was seasonal, but it was honest work. Two Jewish brothers from the neighborhood , James and John, were close friends and business partners.

When Jesus burst on to the scene, preaching along the shorline of Galilee, Peter and his partners had been out on the water all night long, with little or nothing to show for thier work. When Jesus finished his preaching , he turned and called out to Simon Peter and said ” let down your nets for a catch.”

Could you imagine what went through Peter’s mind at the thought of letting down the nets again? Who does this preacher think he is anyway? He couldn’t possibly be serious? Doesn’t he realize that we’ve been at this all night? You can almost hear Peter’s grumbling as he reluctantly throws the nets back into the sea.

All of a sudden , the net that had been empty throughout the entire fishing excursion was filling to the brim with fish! So much so that Peter had to call their partners, James and  John over to help haul in the catch!

When Peter realized what had happened, the Bible says he fell to his knees and said to Jesus “Lord, please leave me. I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” Right then and there , Jesus responds to Peter and says ” Don’t be afraid! From now one you’ll be fishing for people.”

Here’s the most interesting part of the story. The Bible says ” immediately they dropped thier nets and followed Jesus.” Most people read that passage and miss the powerful implication of that single , solitary act. Leaving their nets behind meant leaving everything they’ve ever  known , leaving behind their only means of support, and following after someone they hardly knew. But somehow they must have sensed that Jesus had a greater plan and higher purpose for thier lives. No doubt, thier lives would never be the same after that encounter.

God isn’t necessarily calling each of us to leave our occupations in order to follow Christ. The Bible even instructs us to work hard and be good providers for our families, and to be generous givers toward the work of the kingdom. However, he does call each of us to leave our old ways behind, our old habits behind, our old thinking patterns and even some unhealthy relationships behind in order to follow after him.

Just like Peter , we tend to go back to what we know. Immediately after the crucifiction , Peter, (no doubt emotionally spent and frustrated) told the disciples that he was going back to fish. And fish they did–all night long without a single bite!

Then , just as before , Jesus shows up on the scene ( now ressurrected ), calls out to Peter and his companions and asks ” Fellows , have you caught any fish?” “No”, they replied. Then Jesus instructs them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat. You can guess what happened next. There were so many fish caught in their net that they couldn’t haul in the net.

Jesus never scolded the disciples for going back to work. He never discouraged them from fishing. But he did challenge them to embrace the higher calling on their lives. They were not only fisherman–they were called to fish for the souls of men.

No matter what we do for a living , at some point in our walk with Christ, we will be challenged to leave our nets behind. The nets represent the things we know, the things we love, the things we are comfortable with, even the way we’ve worshipped and served the Lord throughout our walk with Christ.

Let me challenge you to be open to the new things God has for you. The scriptures say “new things I declare to you” . There will be new songs to sing. New things of the Spirit to experience. In order to take hold of the new things , you must loosen your grip on the old things. New wineskins are flexible. Old wineskins crack when stretched. Which one do you wish to be? The choice is up to you. I choose to leave my old nets behind.

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