While we were in Mongolia a few years back, I had a dream which over time has had a profound effect on my thinking. In the dream I was handing a small group of people a book. “It’s about how to be a commercial fisherman,” I told them. The only other thing I remember about the dream was telling them that the important principle was to fish where Jesus told them.
This dream seemed to be more than a post pizza (or in the case of Mongolia, mutton) dream and it started me thinking. For Peter, Andrew, James and John, who were all commercial fishermen, when Jesus told them, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men,” they would have understood this in the context of commercial fishing. They would not have thought hook and line (ie one fish at a time), they would have assumed fishing nets catching large numbers of fish.
I started investigating the different Scriptures on fishing in the Gospels. More about that later.
Shortly after this we went to India and one of the people we were with works with fishermen on the coast of India. So I asked him about how they fish. (These would be primitive fishermen, probably very little different from fishermen in Jesus’ day.) He told me that they have different kinds of nets depending on the circumstances and what they are trying to catch. They have a funnel net which is the kind of net they use when they don’t have boats. They also have a drag net which is maybe 800 to 900 yards long for when they have more than one boat. There are actually several different kinds of nets that are used.
So what does it mean to be a commercial fisherman in the context of Jesus’ comments to his disciples?
More to follow.