After His resurrection, Jesus showed Himself to His followers on several occasions. One of those was at the Sea of Galilee, after they had caught no fish all the previous night.
John 21:4,6 – But when the morning had now come, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. 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. (NKJV)
This story reminded me of the time when I worked in the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman. We were building 175 miles of thirty-inch and thirty-six-inch pipeline from oil wells in the interior desert to an offshore terminal near Zaih Maleh at the coast of the Gulf of Oman. All the pipes came in on large ships which were anchored in deep water some distance offshore and were then loaded onto barges, which were pulled to a jetty to be unloaded. This jetty was surrounded by water and the fish swimming beside and under it seemed to be so many that we would think that we could walk across them — solid fish, it seemed. And yet, when the Omani fishermen cast their nets from flat-bottomed little boats, the fish would scatter at such an amazing pace that by the time they pulled in their nets, they might have only one or two fish in them. After a few minutes, the others would come back, and the fishermen would cast their nets again and catch a couple more. They kept on doing this without being visibly discouraged.
Jesus had told His disciples, when He first called them, that He would make them "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19 NKJV).
After His resurrection, Jesus told His followers, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." (Mark 16:15 NKJV)
That is our mandate, too, but I know that sometimes, it is hard to do. There are so many people who are just not interested, or at least don't seem to be interested. We even have those within our own families. There are those who at one time believed, but then, somewhere along their road of life, decided that they did not want or need the gospel anymore. But we still have this mandate to spread the Word even to the ends of the earth, because after all:
- We've a story to tell to the nations,
That shall turn their hearts to the right,
A story of truth and mercy,
A story of peace and light.
– H. Ernest Nichol (1862-1926)
In times when we don't seem to do so well, when our churches are struggling, when we seem to "catch" only one or two, the Lord tells us to keep on telling others about the good news of the gospel. Let us not be discouraged!
Prayer: Our Father in heaven, there are so many times when we need encouragement about our labours for Your church, and we pray, Lord, that You will give us the strength, the willpower, and the ability to keep doing Your work. We ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.