Blessed with Abundance

Simon answered [Jesus], ”Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.” When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, ”Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, ”Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” — Luke 5:5-10 (NRSV)

When I was in third grade, Ken Pannier thought I might enjoy signing up for our hometown’s fishing derby. He was right; it sounded like a lot of fun to me. The only trouble was that I wasn’t a fisherman. My parents weren’t fishermen, either. We didn’t have a single thing I would need to catch a fish apart from a goldfishes-sized aquarium net. It would have to be a pretty tough day on the river for everyone if I was going to win a prize with that.

Ken taught me the basics the morning of the derby. He loaned me a rod and reel, plenty of hooks and line weights, and an assortment of dough balls, canned clams, and frozen sweet corn kernels for bait. He helped me load a treble hook like a shish kabob, tossed in my line and handed me the rod. It was official: I was a true fisherman! And, like a true fisherman, I sat there on a rock for hours with not a single nibble.

About 30 minutes before the end of the derby some line tugged out of my reel. And then a little more. Ken noticed me looking a little confused at the reel so he came over to see how I was doing. When he saw the line slowly retreating into the river he said, ”Give it a tug and start reeling in!" Well, I tugged, and, my goodness, if it didn't tug right back, and a lot harder than me. Ken held me by the shoulders as I spun the reel as fast as I could. His son grabbed a net and took a few steps into the river. Before I knew it, there was an 11 lb. carp in the net and a brand new bicycle in my garage courtesy of the hardware store. Needless to say, that was a great day of fishing.

What started a complete bust turned into a great day of fishing for Simon Peter, James and John. By listening to Jesus’ command they were blessed with abundance —overwhelming abundance. They were amazed by the power and authority of this man, Jesus. But Simon Peter must have been deeply troubled by the experience. Perhaps he wondered why Jesus would have proved for him in such an extraordinary way. Perhaps he didn't feel worthy. Perhaps he thought Jesus would expect something imposing in return. He exclaimed, ”Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” But like so many times throughout scripture, Jesus responded with, ”Do not be afraid.” And then Jesus told Simon Peter his new mission in life, that he could be catching people from that point forward.

The equipment with which Simon Peter, James and John had made their livelihood was no longer needed. It was simply left behind. Jesus would now provide everything they would need for this new line of fishing. In the coming years they would have good days and bad days. But, they were fishermen nonetheless, growing the kingdom of God through their ministry.

Each of us are likewise catching people in the midst of their joys and sorrows and bearing the light of Christ for all to see. May we be bold in witnessing to the power, authority, love, and compasison of Christ our Lord. May we be patient in waiting for Christ's command and eager to cast our nets where we are called. And, let us never forget that even on our worst of days when we may question our worthiness, the abundance of life in Christ is truly for us. A brand new bicycle may be a nice prize for catching a carp, but abundant life in Christ is a true treasure for all who follow Him.

God bless,

Pastor Nathan