Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Depart from Me- A Fisherman's Tale (3)

The little village called the 'Fish Hut' was now a flurry of excitement and activity. Hundreds of new faces were in the village, enthralled with the Nazarene and the stories following him were as varied as the growing crowd.

Simon.... he was exhausted.

The events of the previous days had become a whirlwind of confusion. Everyone on the boat last night could tell that Simon was not himself. 

Normally, Simon was the captain with energy and control. He studied every element and change to find fish. He had the reputation with an ego to boot. But this past night he was merely rewinding old routines. He was distracted, aloof, and passive.

Andrew was the only one to sharply reprimand James and John when they began to argue. Normally, Simon erupted on the two brothers before their tempers up into a hailstorm. Not last night. The small boat was full of discord and empty of fish.

Simon finally stepped in and did something he had never done before. ....He sent James and John back to shore. 

"Go back and fish with your father," Simon said with a low and calm voice, "he will be glad to have your help today. There are no fish to be found tonight."

The 'Sons of Zebedee' were so stunned that they soon forgot what the argument was even about.

"Are you dismissing us, Simon?"

Simon shook his head . "No, we will go out again. Go see your father. He will be happy to have your help today. See, daylight is breaking and we are done."

When they got back to shore, the buzz of anticipation throughout Bethsaida was already stirring. No doubt the healing of Simon's mother-in-law was the crescendo of the celebratory mood.

Simon could see Andrew's desire, he wasn't going to be much help.

"Go....go... run and see him. I will take care of the boat."

Andrew jumped across the bow. He landed on the pebbles like a panther and ran toward the crowd.

Simon bent over and put a calloused hand on the nets that had soaked all night in the Sea of Galilee without results. He didn't feel like doing this now.

Just a few yards down, James and John were already helping their father with his boat. They were washing their nets properly and looking back at Simon with some trepidation. Normally, Simon would want to outdo anyone near him..... but he felt lost this morning. Simon never left his boat without getting the nets ready to dry, but he was fully compromised. He was too tired and wanted to go hug his wife. He was almost ready to talk about what happened.

The pebbles on the shore cracked in the sunlight. The wind was picking up as well as the cacophony of the Capernaum crowd that now moved in his direction. Simon looked up and saw Jesus walking right toward him... the exact stride that he had seen in the night just a short time ago. There were hundreds who were pressing behind him.

Simon looked back and noticed that two boats were the only things separating the throng from the waters of Lake Gennesaret. He knew which one was about to be used!

"Simon! Push us out! This is the best way for them to hear my Father's word!"

They stepped in simultaneously and Simon let the anchor rope out just enough to give Jesus the distance he needed to speak to the group. Jesus turned a large fish basket upside down and sat on it. When he sat down, so did the crowd.... almost on cue. It was the largest impromptu school house ever in Galilee.

Then he began to speak, his voice carried with power and authority. Simon had never heard anyone like this!

People had already been talking about the message Jesus had been giving. He had been filling the synagogue with those who were wanting to hear these words. Simon was hearing it now for himself.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet.

 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. "

Simon did not know as much about the ancient Word as he needed to know and had never shown much interest in it. It was impossible to miss anything this man was saying.

Jesus spoke easily for a long time.

At times, Simon knew Jesus was quoting long passages from Isaiah and Jeremiah the prophets. He was familiar enough with the words of Moses that he recognized almost every time Jesus when was quoting directly from the holy scrolls.

But then Jesus would say things that no Galilean had ever heard.....

 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. "

And then Jesus stopped. It was now well after the 3rd hour.

He turned away from the crowd and directed his attention solely to Simon.

“Simon, let's go fishing. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 

The crowd quietly moved back toward the village, except for Andrew. He was swimming to the boat!

Simon stood up..... "Master".... and Jesus did not correct that statement with the same look he had used on the night of the healing.

Simon helped Andrew in the boat and indicated a need for support 

“Master, we labored all night and did not pull in anything! There is no need!"

The Nazarene turned over the basket he had used to speak and put it back in its proper place.

"Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” 

Simon glanced over, the other boat was back on the water as well. They were following with great interest.

" There are 7 miles behind us, Lord, and 7 miles to the west. There is a ridge just behind us that is over 100 feet deep. Is that deep enough for you?"

Andrew laughed out loud.

Jesus seemed to enjoy it all. Simon noticed the excitement Jesus had.... almost like a child. He was taking it all in, totally immersed in the sun, wind, and all creation!

Simon peered into the water, the shallow bottom suddenly disappeared into a deep blue abyss. He had known this ridge all his life, but it seemed more pure and deep that he had ever noticed,

"Ok, Andrew, at the Master's bidding, let's put the nets down."

Jesus grabbed them and began to help as well.

As soon as the last net opened, the boat began to rock to the side! It was full of fish!
Immediately, the other side filled and though the small boat was now balanced, it was close to sinking!

"Andrew, pull harder!" Simon regretted that the Sons of Zebedee were not on his boat!

The port side net snapped and was being pulled off of the side!

Simon called out to the boat following them.


Jesus and Andrew were starting to relieve the broken side of the enormous catch. Simon jumped down and used the fish coming in to ballast and balance the boat under the strain.

It did not take long to completely fill Simon's boat and there was another full net to go!

The Nazarene took great interest in every movement, sight, and smell. His smile was wide. Simon was too anxious about sinking to enjoy any of it!

The other boat was filled also to the brim.

Father Zebedee, James, and John looked at Simon.

"These are your fish! We will carry them in for you!"

Simon waved them away.

"No, no..... those are yours! These fish are not mine!"

Jesus stopped everything. His entire attention was now on Simon.

Simon felt him.

Just a few nights ago, he was weeping in the night, wondering if God cared. He was now overcome in the light. He was exposed for all his pride, exposed for his pretenses, exposed for neglecting others and God, exposed for bullying, exposed for a dead cold heart..... he fell headlong into a pile of dying fish and cried out loud.

His posture and sobs ripped away the darkness that he had been holding in for decades.

He screamed out! It was a higher pitch than the seagulls who were also competing for the prize. 


Which was such a strange thing to say in a boat hovering over a deep trench in the middle of Lake Gennesaret.


Andrew fell to his knees, his prayers were being answered right before his eyes. Healing Simon's mother-in-law was a debatable miracle. Many were already saying she merely recovered.

A humbled Simon, crying out with no care of who saw him..... this was an irrefutable miracle!

Astonishment is too slight a word. James and John were statues in the background. 

The cargo of the catch was nothing now...... Simon was undone!

The most amazing thing was that Jesus knew exactly what to call this emotion.

He grabbed Simon's hand and said with complete authority, "Do not be afraid."

Simon immediately knew it was truth. He was a man dominated by fear.... fear of failure, fear of what others thought of him, fear of being found out what a fraud he was.

Jesus lifted Simon up with a force that could have landed both nets by himself.

"Hear me Simon, Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.

They landed the boat.... but things were changed forever as they put their sandals on the shore. 

Jesus walked ahead of them and held out an open hand.

He repeated the call... it had the force and feel of something official.


Andrew, James, John, and Simon left it all on the shore.

They left their boats, their nets, and the large pile of fish. Zebedee had seen it for himself and he knew what the boys had to do.

Jesus put his hand on Simon one more time and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called 'Peter' ” .

And Simon had no more issues with it. It was time to walk with the Lord.

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