Monday, August 22, 2016

Catch them alive

Then Jesus said to Simon,
“Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men.”

So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Luke 5:10-11 NIV

…from now on you will catch men.

In the Greek original, this is:

απο του νυν ανθρωπους εση ζωγρων
Apó tou nín anthrópous ési zogrón.

We are all called by Jesus, just as the fishermen disciples were, all called by Jesus to be fishers of men. There aren't two churches, the church of the catchers of the fish, and the church of those who watch the catch from shore.

Even though the disciples had already accepted the call of Jesus, they still had lives to live, they had to support their families and continue their trade, fishing for a living. That represents the first stage of the call—they followed Jesus, but then they still had lives to live, responsibilities in the world. Jesus came to the lakeside and saw them, His disciples, washing their nets and putting them away for the day (since the best fishing was at night, near the shore, on the Sea of Galilee). They had toiled all night but caught nothing.

Jesus had come to find them there, and because there were already crowds following Him around to hear the Word of God, He stepped into Peter's boat, and had Peter put out a little from the shore, so He could teach without being mobbed. After teaching awhile, the Master (for that is what Peter calls Him, proving he already was following the call) told him to put the boat out to deeper water and pay out the nets for a catch.

What? Pay out the nets in deep water, in the daytime? Peter knew better. He was a ‘professional.’ He tells Jesus that this is not ‘conventional wisdom,’ but still he said, “but if You say so, I will pay out the nets.” (Luke 5:5 JB) And that is what Peter did.

What happened? Peter, the fisherman, got the ‘blessing’ of probably the biggest catch of fish he had ever had in his life! He even had to call his companions in the other boat to come help, pull the catch in… and it nearly sank both boats!

Peter's reaction? He fell at the knees of Jesus, saying “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8) When faced with the wonder-working power of God, the abundance even in the material world that is the Lord's to give as He chooses, mere mortal man comes face to face with his utter sinfulness, and begs the Lord to depart from such a creature as himself.

Jesus Christ's response? “Do not be afraid…” (Luke 5:10) The Lord is now calling Peter, and us, to the next stage of discipleship.

He wants us. He has to tell us up front, “Don't be afraid!” And why is this? Because now it really is the unknown that we're heading for, Jesus really is going to take us ‘where no man has gone before.’ No man, except Him, and with Him, us.

“Catch them alive.”

‘to catch alive’ as in the sense of catching an animal for the zoo, or better yet, for the ark. What catches my attention is this irony—that when the disciples caught fish, they took an animal which was alive (in the water) and killed it (took it out of the water) so they could eat it. That's what a fisherman does. No judgment intended. We have to eat to live, and God has given us everything.

But what the Lord said in making His disciples ‘fishers of men’ gave them the job of ‘taking alive’ the men whom He would be sending them. As fishers of men, we take an animal which was spiritually dead (out of the water) and in catching it make it alive (in the water and Spirit) so it can feed on God. This is another example of the Great Reversal (as C. S. Lewis calls it), the rolling backwards of death itself, the resurrection unto Life eternal.

Have I lost you by my wordy explanation?
Sorry, if I have.
Just go back to the top and read the Bible passage again.
The Lord has commissioned us to “catch them alive.”
That's really all I want to say anyway.
And that's really all I want to do.
Glory to God!

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