As I investigated the Scriptures on the subject of commercial fishing in the Gospels, several things became apparent. There are several passages that talk about fishing:
- Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-19 Jesus calls the four disciples who are fishermen and tells them he will make them fishers of men.
- Luke 5:1-11 Jesus tells the disciples who had fished all night but caught nothing to put down their nets again into the deep and they catch two boatloads of fish
- John 21:3-11 After Jesus’ resurrection, seven of the disciples go fishing. Again Jesus tells them where to cast their nets and they catch 153 large fish
- Matthew 17: 24-27 Peter uses a rod and line to catch a fish that has money for the temple tax in its mouth.
There is obviously more than one way the disciples are fishing. In the Luke example, they were in a boat and let down their nets. In the John example, they throw out their nets. In the Matthew and Mark examples they were fishing from the shore. Further investigation reveals that although in English the word net is used in every example, in the Greek, different words are used signifying different types of nets. For example, in the Matthew and Mark examples a specific purse net is described.
Commercial fisherman (which is what the disciples were) would have understood that you use different kinds of nets depending on the circumstances and the kind of fish you want to catch.
So in terms of the harvest where we are fishers of men, there may be different ways that we approach “catching fish.” What may work in other nations may not be best here in the West
There is one more passage. This comes in Matthew 13 where Jesus tells a parable. The kingdom of heaven is like a fishing net (literally a dragnet or seine which is a type of net used to catch large numbers of fish) let down into the water…
The question I am pondering these days is, “How do we ‘let the kingdom of heaven’ down into the community around us? Especially here in the West where people are jaded and inoculated against the Gospel. What kind of fishing net will catch a multitiude of fish?