One day Jesus was standing beside Lake Gennesaret when the crowd pressed in around him to hear God’s word. Jesus saw two boats sitting by the lake. The fishermen had gone ashore and were washing their nets. Jesus boarded one of the boats, the one that belonged to Simon, then asked him to row out a little distance from the shore. Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he finished speaking to the crowds, he said to Simon, “Row out farther, into the deep water, and drop your nets for a catch.” Simon replied, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and caught nothing. But because you say so, I’ll drop the nets.” So they dropped the nets and their catch was so huge that their nets were splitting. They signaled for their partners in the other boat to come and help them. They filled both boats so full that they were about to sink. When Simon Peter saw the catch, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Leave me, Lord, for I’m a sinner!” Peter and those with him were overcome with amazement because of the number of fish they caught. James and John, Zebedee’s sons, were Simon’s partners and they were amazed too. Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on, you will be fishing for people.” As soon as they brought the boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Jesus. (CEB)
One thing I never thought about until this week is “What did they do with all those fish?” The text clearly tells us that Simon, James and John immediately left everything and followed Jesus. Did they give the fish away to the crowd? Did they just leave the fish in the boat? Did they hand over their boats and all the equipment to someone else? And what does that mean for us?
It is my experience with the scriptures that no detail is gratuitous. Every word and every space where something is left out is significant. Yesterday I talked about discipleship. It is a process. Growing in spiritual maturity makes it easier to make godly choices. Being obedient to do what Jesus tells us to do whether it makes sense or not is one of the spiritual disciplines that produced growth. If we are willing to be obedient and keep an open heart and mind, faith is usually given and the more we practice trust, the more faith grows. If we are willing to be obedient, amazing things will likely happen.
But ultimately, Simon (later changed to Peter), James and John walked away from the amazing thing that happened. They left it all behind. The results of our obedience are not ours to take after all. It is not for our gain. It is for the good of the community. (That is exactly what Paul was writing about to the Corinthians that we read the last couple of weeks.) All those other people that had been crowding around Jesus to hear his words were the recipients. There was undoubtedly a feast on the beach that day.
I have to tell you, this is a hard thing. Luke makes it sound so easy. They just walk away. But I like affirmation for the things I have done. I like revel in the things that have gone really well. I like to get recognition for the success I have been given… even though I know it isn’t MY success. It is God’s miracle. “But God used me to achieve it.” I say. It is only human. I am not that different from others.
It is not an easy thing to leave your work for others to continue. It is not an easy thing to walk away from your stuff. Will others treat it with the respect and energy it took to get it to this place? Whether we are talking about Simon, James and John leaving, not only their catch, but their boats and nets as well. Would others take good care of it? Would they respect it? Or if it is the ministries we participate in. Will others have the same vision? Give it the same effort?
It is not up to us. It is ours to do the work of being obedient and the results belong to God. We would do well to practice walking away and empowering others to enjoy the fruits of our labors… to step into the legacy we have built. It is the ultimate act of generosity as well as an act of devotion. How might we do this in our day and place.
blessings to you,
Common English Bible (CEB)
Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible