The Catching of the Fish

Luke 5:1-11, ESV

“On one occasion, while the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he was standing by the lake of Gennesaret, and he saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, he asked him to put out a little from the land. And he sat down and taught the people from the boat. And when he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both the boats, so that they began to sink.” 

“But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”

Seriously now. You never try to catch fish during the day. The fish head to the bottom to escape the summer’s heat. At night the fishermen would use a lantern to bring the fish to the surface–that’s just the way it worked. The text makes it clear that Peter’s crew had worked all night. They were incredibly tired, and they didn’t need a simple carpenter to speak to hardcore fishermen.

Jesus had been teaching and Peter’s boat was His pulpit. Jesus had been sharing things that were profound, and Peter had been listening. Perhaps all that he heard resonated deep inside. Jesus’ teaching went far beyond what Peter heard in the synagogue. He knew he was in the presence of the Messiah. For once, he was hearing God’s voice talk to his heart.

Much began to happen at this point in the story.

Jesus requested that they took their nets and go fishing again. This time in broad daylight, and that was something that wasn’t done. It seemed absolutely foolish, and yet this man Jesus was asking that these fishermen would do it. Peter as the chief made the decision. They would fish, if only from obedience.

Their nets were now starting to break.

They had taken so many fish that they couldn’t take the load. Peter’s boat cried out for other boats to intervene. The catch was way too much. Both boats together carried so much that they were at the point of sinking with the weight. At least that’s been told.

What was Peter’s response to all of this?

We see him kneeling in the pile of fish. We hear his cry, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Peter understood and made this astute observation. First of all, he was sinful. Second, he knew that he didn’t belong. Third, he understood who Jesus was. I don’t think Peter ever shook that experience. He knew deep down that he was never ever going to be worthy. It was a great prayer, but at that moment Peter didn’t know that.

From then on, they would be catching men. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 would lead 3,000 to the Lord. At that moment he “fished” for souls. He had finally become God’s fisherman. He had become God’s mouthpiece to a world that was waiting for him to speak.

There’s so much more in this passage. I deeply regret I can’t bring it out. I only hope that this’s a start, and that you can “excavate” more. The ball’s in your court now. Try to make it count–for Him.

Looking at the Transfiguration

Mark 9:2-8.ESV

“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became radiant, intensely white, as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. And Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” For he did not know what to say, for they were terrified.” 

And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.” And suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone with them but Jesus only.”

I could go a hundred different ways with this. After much thought (disorganized most of the time) I’ve decided to go with the following. I know deep down how foolish it is, and I know you have much to add to it, which is very good. God speaks and shows us that each has a piece that others don’t have. If only we can accept that, our understanding would change.

I believe that the Transfiguration of Jesus ranks right up there with His resurrection. The more I try to process Mark 9 the more I see things that really matter. What happened there was radical, and I realize that I still don’t have a solid grip on it, and if I did I know deep down it’d change my life. But what I do understand I give to you.

  • James, John, and Peter. Why these three? Some have suggested that these particular disciples were the ones who desperately needed to see what was going to happen. That’s very possible. Perhaps they were the weakest, and maybe they needed to see what was about to happen. My personal view is that these three wrote books, epistles. Maybe Jesus understood this, and gave them this earth-shaking experience?
  • The impact on Peter was profound. “”For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with Him, I am well pleased.”  We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1:16-18). Toward the end of Peter’s life he couldn’t shake the Transfiguration and what he witnessed there. He recalled the “glory” but it seems it was the voice that was the most profound. It was that voice that completely altered his life and ministry. (Notice that he mentions it twice in verse 18.)
  • The original Greek word for “transfigured” is metamorphosis. (Like a butterfly coming out of a cocoon.) Jesus wasn’t put in some spiritual “spotlight,” rather the glory that was seen was coming from inside Him. He was God and Jesus revealed Himself clearly as God. The three disciples who were witnesses seem to struggle with exactly what took place. They use human analogies and images to try to explain to us what took place.
  • The word for “terrified” is the word “phobia.” Could it be that our encounter with God could go to that extreme? Could we be that we could be terrified in His presence? Does that fit into our theology?
  • And what about Moses and Elijah? Most feel that each represented the Law and the Prophets who were part of the whole scene. They conversed with Jesus. What they talked about I have no idea. (I wish I did.) But notice, even though Jesus emanated glory, these two did not. Also, the arrival of these two reinforces the real world of life after death. Both Moses and Elijah were very much alive.
  • The “human” part of Jesus was temporarily set aside. We know that Jesus was fully man, but here we see Him as He really is–fully and completely God. What a revelation! The three disciples were profoundly touched. Seeing the power and glory of the Creator of the universe on the top of the mountain altered their lives and changed their ministry.
  • John would write his Gospel and three letters. James wrote the first book in the NT. Peter is credited with the Gospel of Mark and his two books. They “knew” exactly who Jesus was! They had become fully convinced and needed no theological explanation. They finally understood!

So much more should be considered.

What I’ve written today is so incomplete–I feel a little foolish putting this down in this post. But yet I’m actively praying for you that this might add to your understanding. The Transfiguration is profound. It certainly needs to be internally processed by every real believer. And for those who don’t know Jesus yet, I hope you can understand exactly who He is to us who believe.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made.  In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

John 1:1-4, NIV

When Water Became a Sidewalk

Matthew 14:24-31

“The boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared to death. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.”

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

31 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

Peter is speaking:

It was the dead of night–the fourth watch, sometime between 3-6 a.m. The crossing was going all wrong, the water and wind were contrary, and we were exhausted. We had worked hard and made little headway. I seldom have seen anything like this, and the waves were pounding our boat. We had no idea how long we could keep this up.

Someone shouted and started pointing; he saw something! We all looked, and quickly came to the realization that it was Jesus–but that was impossible. It had to be His “ghost..” He was walking on water, calming striding toward us. As absurd as it seems now, we believed that. After all, what we were all seeing defied reason. No way, it was impossible!

As He got closer to our boat the apparition shouted to us.

We all knew Jesus’ voice—and He was telling us not to be afraid, He understood our fear and He wanted us to know that we were in God’s hands. Our terror got mixed up in skepticism. After all, it had been a long day and this just doesn’t happen. Besides we knew that Jesus was left back in Gaiilee.

I don’t know why to this day where my courage came, but I needed to be with Jesus. Maybe it was curiosity, maybe it was more than that. Somewhere I came up with this wild idea that if He was really Jesus then He could allow me to walk on the water. I know that seems bizarre, but my “faith” in Him was greater than anything else.

Jesus told me to join Him.

So guess what? I stepped out of the boat.

What I found was that the water was hard. It was as solid as if I were walking on land! I couldn’t figure that out, it was impossible. Completely unbelievable. I saw the waves and felt the wind–My eyes shifted from Jesus and it was then I began to sink. The water was becoming water, and I began to sink.

“Jesus, save me!”

If there was any lesson that cry moved the heart of Jesus. Perhaps that’s what has shaped my ministry today. The cry of desperation has become an integral part of my walk. At that moment I realized that is my best prayer. “Master, save me!” I use it a lot. Especially when I’m “sinking.”

Jesus grasped my outstretched hand.

I was pulled up and out of the water to safety. He gently spoke a rebuke–a kind word of instruction and direction. But I learned something.

Following Jesus is a supernatural walk.

It can’t be done in any other way. And you must get out of the safety of the boat, which must come at His invitation. He wasn’t angered by my unbelief, but I believe He was encouraged by my faith, and the lesson was clearly understood by the disciples still in the boat.

The steps of faith fall on the seeming void, but find the rock beneath.

    John Greenleaf Whittier

Meet Peter and the Fishes Mouth

When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the temple tax approached Peter and said, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the temple tax?”

25 “Yes,” he said.

When he went into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly kings collect tariffs or taxes? From their sons or from strangers?”

26 “From strangers,” he said.

“Then the sons are free,” Jesus told him. 27 “But, so we won’t offend them, go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and take the first fish that you catch. When you open its mouth you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to them for me and you.”

Matthew 17:24-27, CSB

Taxes! We had just arrived home in Capernaum when the tax collectors showed up. How they knew we were back in town I have no idea. But they did. I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. These guys have a tendency to show up when you’re broke.

Taxes. They knew that Jesus was a teacher, a rabbi, and they had the audacity to ask if he was somehow exempt from paying to support the Temple. I had to tell them that He to had to pay, but honestly, I wasn’t sure.

I went back into the house and Jesus was waiting to quiz me.

He surprised me by knowing what had just occurred with my encounter with these tax guys. He knew. He asked me what I thought–(Jesus always seemed to ask me questions like that. I hated being put on the spot.)

“From strangers” seemed to be the simple and logical answer. Jesus explained that He’s not liable to pay this tax, because the Father certainly doesn’t require it of His own Son. I realized then that was the real lesson that He wanted me to understand.

But rather than insist on His “sonship,” Jesus didn’t want to create an issue with anyone. He asked me (the commercial fisherman), to throw out a line and a hook–He told me that the first fish that I caught would have a coin in its mouth!

I must tell you that it happened exactly like He said it would.

The fish I caught had a drachma in its mouth. What can I say? It was there and it undid me. It happened and I understood again that He really did have power.

Jesus told me to pay the tax–His and mine. He knew He didn’t need to pay. Rabbis were exempt from this, and yet Jesus didn’t want to offend anyone, He paid the tax to avoid any objection.

_______________________

Bryan’s note: I’ve pondered this miracle of Jesus, and it astounds me. A fish with a coin in its mouth! But in this, He shows His power. Consider for a moment the story of Jonah where a big fish was specially created to be the vehicle for a disobedient prophet. Jesus reveals His omnipotence over all things.

Jesus is the Creator and He does this without any problem at all. He simply does it. He is God after all.

“All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.”

John 1:3, CSB