Monday, March 6, 2023

Been Fishing Lately?

I don't fish but I have stocked the pond. Guests love it. One day a visitor caught 15 fish in one hour -- brim, crappie, bass. He was delightfully proud of himself. I told him, "You need to thank Jesus. It was he who personally led each fish to your hook." 

After all, that's what John 21 teaches, isn't it? It's the story of a terrific haul of fish. But the disciples would have been fishless had not the Master been there. That's the irony of Jesus' words, "Bring me some of the fish you just caught." I can hear Peter saying, "Excuse me. We caught? What did we have to do with it?" That's the brilliance of Jesus. He wants us to offer him our talents and abilities so that he can use them to do wonderful things. None of these things are ours except as a gift he's given us. I mean, 153 fish, and still the net is not broken. If John 21 is about the recommissioning of Peter (and it is), it is also about the nature of Christ. Jesus is Lord of all creation. The disciples weren't exactly novice fishermen. They knew their catch wasn't normal. It was a miracle -- a sign of Jesus' complete authority over nature itself. As Paul says in Colossians, "All things were created in him and through him and for him." 

All things. Even fish.

Think about it. Fish go exactly where Jesus tells them to go. Think of those spiritual fish you've caught for Jesus. In every instance, Jesus has gone before you. Think of the universality of the gospel today, of the billions of people who claim to follow Christ. All of those fish were fish Jesus led to the net. On my first visit to Korea I was astonished at the number of evangelical churches I saw. I'm told that one third of the population of South Korea is Christian. Christianity is no longer a "Western" thing if it ever was in the first place. The kingdom of God is truly vast, growing, and multinational. Surely this is what Jesus meant when he said, "Apart from me you can do nothing." It is the power of the risen Lord that makes our efforts successful. He's still the Lord who fills the net with fish, regardless of how inadequate we may feel. Little wonder the early church adopted the fish sign as an emblem of their Lord's saving work:

"Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior." What a great reminder that all that we have comes from God's hand. We did not create the world or the food in it. We did not save that person we led to Christ. Behind all of this is the hand of God. He placed us at the right fishing hole. He leads us into situations or encounters we would otherwise never have designated for ourselves. The work of evangelism is always his work. 

What a marvelous picture of our risen Lord and his utterly breathtaking power!