John 21:3,5-6,14 – Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We are going with you also." They went out and immediately got into the boat, and that night they caught nothing. Then Jesus said to them, "Children, have you any food?" They answered Him, "No." And He said to them, "Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they cast, and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish. This is now the third time Jesus showed Himself to His disciples after He was raised from the dead. (NKJV)
My identification with this account of Jesus and the disciples at the Sea of Galilee is very keen. I love everything about fishing, and I can really understand that they had been out all night and caught nothing. Although I haven't fished at night, I am used to catching nothing. My love of fishing goes back a long way.
I remember a time when I went fishing with my two young nephews at a place called Dinkey Creek in the Sierra Mountains of California. We went with our rods, reels, hooks, lures, and bait, fishing for trout. We had a mandate by law to catch no more than five trout, our allowed limit for the day. I loaded my hook with salmon eggs, while my nephews used pieces of cheese for bait. The boys caught their limits in short order while I caught nothing with my recommended bait. However, this incident did not deter me from the love of fishing.
The Bible tells us that if we follow Jesus, He will make us fishers of men.
Matthew 4:19 – Jesus said to them, "Come with me. I'll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I'll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass." (MSG)
Just as it takes different kinds of equipment and bait to catch fish, it takes individual methods to reach others as instructed to do so by Christ. One method I experienced was during our street ministry as a student in Bible school. We would go to a corner downtown in teams that consisted of music and Bible majors, each offering their spiritual gifts through song and spoken word. We had quite an audience, whose curiosity was piqued as to what was about to transpire. After the gospel was presented, we mingled in the crowd. As the opportunities presented themselves, we were available to answer questions or discuss their spiritual concerns. Did everyone respond to our message? No, but the Word had been planted in a non-threatening way.
More often, we may have a casual or unexpected meeting with an individual. The more we interface with people, the more we grow; it is as simple as that. It is one thing to talk about fishing, but another experience completely to put a line in the water. The Lord gave us a mandate before He left for heaven:
Matthew 28:19-20 – Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I'll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age. (MSG)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we confess that we often feel inadequate to reach and train others in Your way of life. We come to You asking the Holy Spirit to guide us as we seek to spread Your Word to others. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.