And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the word of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret, and saw two ships standing by the lake: but the fishermen were gone out of them, and were washing their nets. And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship. Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught. And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.
They had fished all night with no fish to show for it. What was the difference between their casting before and their casting after Jesus came? Nothing. They were the same nets, the same fishermen, and at the same lake. The difference was not in how they cast their nets, but that they cast them according to the command of Christ. The problem with Christians is not that we aren’t casting our nets, but that we are not casting our nets according to the Word of God.
The problem with churches is not that they are not doing good things according to God’s commands in Scripture, but that they are not acting upon God’s call today. Good deeds are just good deeds without the commandment and calling of God to do them. It’s not an issue of are we doing things for Christ, (anything can be done for Christ but not according to his will), it is an issue of: are we acting on His commandments to us?
The disciples were fishermen, they knew how to catch fish. They did what they had been doing for many years, and it worked before. They had never come across a day like this. No fish at all, for an entire day, it was a bad day to be a fishermen. They had all the proper tools, the nets, the boats, the oars, yet no fish.
The diciples probably thought that there were no fish in this lake, the lake Gennesaret. But, Jesus showed them that the lake was full of fish, they just didn’t know how to catch them. Wow! Think about that for a second. These fishermen had spent their lives training to fish and then fishing. It was their lives. If anyone knew how to catch a fish, it was these men. Still, their nets were empty at the end of the day, their livelihood was failing them.
But, this man, a stranger comes along and shows these professional fishers how to fish. A carpenter teaches fishermen how to fish.
Today Christ says into us “Cast your nets”. How often when we have cast our nets out and they return dry do we say to Christ, “We have already done that”, as if the frequency of our casting should yield more souls. Sometimes that is the case, a man who casts will catch more than a man who does not: guaranteed. You will never catch a fish if you do not cast. But, the more you cast does not automatically mean more souls you will reach. Though the disciples had cast their nets out all the night, they had nothing to show.
But, that’s not the end of the story. Faith makes a story great and exciting, and in this story it is the faith of Peter. Look at the faith of Peter, he says: “Master, we have toiled all the night, and taken nothing:”; now, if there had been a period there instead of a colon, Peter may never have experienced the miracle to come. But, there is a colon and he goes on to say: “Nevertheless, at thy word, I will let down the net.”.
Nevertheless, that means that after all that he said before, all of the reasons why his own wisdom said it was foolishness, he would cast his net anyway. He had great faith in this stranger, but he was also very faithful. He obeyed what he knew was God’s command to cast, even though he had toiled long and hard to win the prize, he would toil once more at the word of the Master.
One last thing to say, which is that those who love to fish will catch more than those who do not. The process and experience of fishing is not something I particularly care for. And I will tell you that I have friends who can say that they have caught more fish and bigger fish than anything I have ever caught. It is not because I am incapable of catching those kinds of fish, or that I’m not as good of a fisherman. The reason I don’t catch many fish is because I don’t enjoy it, I don’t have a love for it. Thus, I don’t fish very often.
Those who love to fish, catch more than those who do not. Even if those who fish more often have bad days where they don’t catch anything, they will still catch more than those who do not try.
As always, thanks for reading.
—the anonymous novelist