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?
8 replies on “Commercial fishing (part 2)”
Here’s one tiny thought. There’s no point in lowering a dragnet or seine or trawl unless the boat is moving. And the boat cannot move unless the wind is blowing steadily. Wind, breath, spirit… Pneuma in Greek, ruach in Hebrew.
Perhaps we need to be moving under the steady influence of the Holy Spirit before we can let down the Kingdom of Heaven in an effective way.
No other comments so far – so here’s another short one from me. Precisely *where* we lower the nets is important.
Several times, at least twice that I can think of (the Luke and John passages listed in Felicity’s post) the disciples were fishing without Jesus and caught nothing. Both times he said, ‘Throw out the net over there’. And there was a massive catch. He was teaching professional fishermen to fish – and he was better at it than they were!
So what does that tell us about people? What does it tell us about Jesus? What does it tell me about myself? And who else needs to know about this? Suggestion – read both passages carefully before asking yourselves the questions.
(The questions are borrowed from the seven signs in John – http://jesus.scilla.org.uk/2012/07/seven-signs-in-john.html)
I think Chris’ ideas are good. My thought is that we need bait – not something spurious that looks attractive, but something that people recognise they want. This might be a loving community, a group of people looking to change the world, peace from guilt, hope in a troubled world, etc, but it needs to be seen to be meeting a felt need. Much of what goes on in churches, and what is offered in evangelism, doesn’t attract me, let alone a non-believer.
If we continue the analogy, this is slow fishing, by line with bait, not the fast net-fishing you are talking about. But I think in the west we have so much nasty baggage in the eyes of many non-believers, that we need to win back lost ground, and that will often mean hand-line, bait and patience (I think). But of course we need to pray for suitable nets as well.
The thing that stood out in all but one of the ‘fishing’ passages and in your question above Felicity is the ‘we.’ You see in all of the passages that the disciples didn’t fish alone, but there were always others either nearby or manning the same nets or boats.
I also agree with Chris, that apart from the power of the Holy Spirit and going where the Lord Jesus leads, we have empty nets- yet a key to ‘letting down the kingdom,’ comes also with each ‘fisherman’ taking his place at the net. This isn’t an individual thing, but a corporate endeavor. It’s our love for one another that reveals the King eh?
Another thought, along with that is, in training the disciples to be ‘fishers of men,’ he didn’t take them into a classroom and teach them day after day, but taught them a bit, then showed them what to do and then they did it…and that takes us to the ‘sent’ passages where they not only declared the coming King and kingdom, but demonstrated its power as well.
I know that I learned a lot about presenting ‘salvation,’ but not so much about the kingdom…and certainly not about demonstrations of its power! Yet when we look at what Jesus taught and what the disciples did, in the Gospels and Acts, we see significant catches! So Jesus told the 70 to, ‘Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’
So I think too learning to ‘let the Kingdom of heaven down’ is something that needs to happen early in a new believers’ life. It’s not about how many facts they learn, but how willing they are to radically obey their King by:.
-Showing we’re the King’s disciples by our love for one another and for them
-Declaring the King and the reality of His Kingdom
-Demonstrating the reality of the Kingdom and its power
Finally, I live in a Western European country that has been deeply damaged by the church and through it’s neighbors. The people tend to be very jaded and harsh against the church. Yet when we talk about/do these things, not about ‘church,’ we have their interest. People are spiritually hungry and the King has a pretty good plan to meet their needs…
Scott, I totally agree! That’s the way christians should live their lives. Follow Jesus, have a close relationship with Him, act and don’t sit.
A couple of ways we believe God has prompted us to spread the dragnet in our community areas where people can be found. We are in process of organizing a small music package to bring the aroma of Christ to the Mall Food Court this Christmas. we have a small ensemble to do kind of a Flash Mob scenario, coupled with Bell ringers, and hopefully a jazz pianist. No fanfare, just want to spread seeds to the masses. We are also talking to area businesses about putting together a “Blood Drive” next Easter…Something that everyone can get behind, giving blood (Life). yet praying for natural God Connects that could happen in the midst of the season of giving REAL life (Easter Resurrection). Please pray with us for these Harvest opportunities.
Inspired and fun ideas. I pray they are very fruitful!