Jesus knows creation’s ways best
Luke 5.1-11 (New Revised Standard Version)
Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God, he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “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 signalled 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 of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon.
Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish.
That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
Today’s readings are about a miraculous haul of fish, in two different contexts and in 2 different gospels and in two different parts of the story of Jesus.
The first story is near the beginning of Luke, where Simon had been fishing all night and caught nothing.They were washing the nets and Jesus came and asked if he could use his boat. They went out into the lake and after Jesus had finished teaching to the crowds.
Jesus said: “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon answered, “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 signalled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.
What an experience that must have been for Simon and the others who were working with him – in fact Simon said he was a sinner! These experienced fishermen had worked all night for nothing, and then Jesus came along, told them to put down their nets, and so many fish were caught it needed two boats and even then they were beginning to sink. What an amazing God! Experienced fishermen know where to fish, how to spot the places, but they caught nothing. Jesus comes along, tells them where to fish, and the result is a huge catch.
God is the creator of all, and we could do with listening to him more than we do, or better than we do. He knows better than us how creation works, and how humans have been slowly destroying the physical world for years now. Jesus, the Son, is in constant communication with the Father. He wants us to have the best life,
life in all its fullness (John 10.10) and the best life we can have is to be in communication with God, through the Holy Spirit.
The second story is after the resurrection of Jesus and the disciples are again by a lake, Simon says “I’m going fishing”, and the others go with him, but again they catch nothing. Then they hear someone from the shore call them, “have you any fish?” Their answer is of course “no”, and he tells them to cast their nets on the right side of the boat and they will find some.
Sure enough there was fish, and so many they struggled to haul it in. It was at that point one of the disciples recognised that it was Jesus and said to Simon, “it is the Lord”. After that, Simon pulled clothes on, jumped into the water and went to meet Jesus, leaving the others to bring in the boats. When they got to the beach, there was a fire, some bread and fish, but Jesus told Simon to go get some more from the haul of large fish.
Another huge haul of fish after Jesus tells them to do something. They had tried to do something they knew how to do, when they were still in shock after the death and resurrection, perhaps to give themselves a feeling of normality, and then who comes and surprises them with more fish than they knew what to do with? Jesus!
He knew they had no fish, but he knew where there was some, so he helped them find it. He knew better than the experienced fishermen where they were, because Jesus, the son of God, knows better than any of us, and often surprises us with glimpses of abundance, joy and life.
We often think we know better than the Creator of all things, perhaps we think we know better because we have been trained in something, or have years of experience in something. However, God can and always will surprise us because, as it says in Isaiah 55.8-9:
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways”, says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
I pray we might all remember that He is Lord, creator, redeemer, sustainer of all; that we do not know better than God; and that we would – with the disciples – know that he is the Lord of our lives.