Commercial fishermen in the Kingdom

Jesus told his disciples who fished for a living, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Commercial fishermen are disappointed if, when they pull in their net, there is only a single fish flopping about.  They hope and expect to catch multiple fish at a time. Remember Peter’s dejection when he’s fished all night and caught nothing?

It’s interesting to note that in the Book of Acts, there are only two people who become followers of Jesus as individuals—Paul and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Everyone else becomes a disciple as part of a group.

  • Following a vision, Peter visits Cornelius who has gathered together a group of friends and relatives in his home. When they are all filled with the Holy Spirit, as evidenced by their speaking in tongues, Paul gives orders for them to be baptized. (Acts 10) A whole household follows Jesus in a single day.
  • When Paul goes to Philippi, he speaks to some women at the riverbank. Lydia opens her heart to Jesus and she and her household are baptized. (Acts 16: 11-15)
  • A few days later, Paul and Silas are jailed. A massive earthquake sets them free, but when they don’t take the opportunity to escape, the jailer invites them to his home where they share the word of the Lord with him and his household. Again, the whole household is baptized. “He and his entire household rejoiced because they all believed in God.” (Acts 16:16-34)
  • When Paul finds a group of people (about twelve men) in Ephesus who have only been baptized with John’s baptism, he baptizes them and prays for them to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:1-6)

What’s the difference? How did those early followers of Jesus get these results?

Jesus had taught his disciples how to be “commercial fishermen” for the Kingdom–not in the sense of making money, but in the sense of bringing in a large catch.

All around the world, God is using this pattern to bring in a massive harvest. Why not here too? We’ll look at how this works in later posts.

Catch of fish

Photo Credit: katinalynn via Compfight cc

A Mongolian Dream

Mongolia is a landlocked country. The dream I had while we were there was therefore all the more surreal.

In the dream I was with a small group of people. As I handed them a book, I told them, “This is a book on how to become a commercial fisherman!”

End of dream.

The dream grabbed my attention in the way that only God can do.

The first thing I realized was that when Jesus said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” he was talking to commercial fishermen. They would not have been thinking rod and line to catch a single fish, but large quantities of fish.

As I skimmed through the Gospels the following morning looking for all the accounts of fishing, I noticed that apparently different kinds of fishing were mentioned. Sometimes the disciples were fishing in deep water, other times in shallow. Sometimes they let their nets down, other times they cast them out. There were specific nets that only caught larger fish. It was obviously a skilled profession.

A few days later, we traveled to India where we work with someone who trains church planters in the primitive fishing villages of the state of Andhra Pradesh. So I asked him about how these villagers fished. He informed me that there are several different kinds of fishing there. Sometimes they use something like a butterfly net in shallow water. Other times they’ll have a boat go out and lay a net in a circle which they pull in. Sometimes two boats will have a net several hundred yards long that they will again throw out in a circle and pull it in. This last is known as a seine or drag net.

On arriving home where I had Internet access again, I looked up the Greek word for fishing net as used in the New Testament. To my surprise, I found that different words in the Greek are all translated as fishing net in the English. But in the Greek there is a word for a net like a butterfly net, another for a fishing net in general, and still another for a seine or dragnet.

Hmm… Interesting.

Perhaps the most relevant one comes in the verse Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a fishing net that was thrown into the water and caught fish of every kind

This kind of net is a dragnet—it’s even translated as such in the NASV.

So what is the relevance of this?

I’m planning to write another book in “The Simple Guide” series on how to become a commercial fisherman in the Kingdom. So, while I will continue to write about women in the Kingdom, many of my blog posts over the next month or so will be on this topic.

Mongolian boy

Photo Credit: United Nations Photo via Compfight cc