---My apologies for the delayed post! I don't plan to normally post on Sundays, but since we missed Saturday, here we are.---
As he was walking by the Sea of Galilee he saw two brothers, Simon (called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen).He said to them, "Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people."They left their nets immediately and followed him. — Mt 4:18-20
There are a couple more things I want to look at in this interaction with Jesus, Simon Peter, and Andrew. First, I want to look at the context of the term "fishers of men", or people. To ancient Jews, this was not an entirely foreign concept. There are times in the Old Testament where God is going to call "fishers of men" who are sent to gather up sinful people:
But for now I, the Lord, say: “I will send many enemies who will catch these people like fishermen. After that I will send others who will hunt them out like hunters from all the mountains, all the hills, and the crevices in the rocks. For I see everything they do. Their wicked ways are not hidden from me. Their sin is not hidden away where I cannot see it. Before I restore them I will punish them in full for their sins and the wrongs they have done. (Jeremiah 16:16-22)
God is a just and perfect God, and sin has to be addressed with a rightful punishment in order for man to be restored to God. Any ancient Jew would have known this. But what I think it so powerful about this is that Jesus is even now turning this whole concept on its head. Before, the fishers of men were enemies God used to cast nets to gather people for punishment and judgment, so they could be restored to God. They were enemies, terrible people. But Jesus is wanting these men, Jews themselves, to gather people in those same large nets, but instead of them receiving punishment, He will take on that punishment for them, so they can be permanently restored to right relationship with God.
Ya'll, this is huge. Please, don't miss it. Israel could never, ever get it right. They were a saw-edged people who constantly were failing and flailing around trying to hide their sin from God. But God has always seen their sin. Nothing is hidden from Him. And Jesus comes to do what Israel could never do on its own-- save it from itself. He's coming to take the punishment they so rightly deserve. . God sees people at their absolute worst, even in the hidden places they try to hide, and yet still loves us so immensely, He does not make us pay for our own sin, He sent his own son to do it instead. I don't know about you, but this humbles me into a place I don't even know how to express. God's goodness is being revealed to Andrew and Simon in this short command, "Follow me, and I'll make you fishers of men", but they have no idea just how deep God's love and goodness goes just yet.
Here's the second thing I want to look at before we leave this scripture: remember in John, when Jesus tells Simon that he will be called Peter, in the future tense? He was giving Simon a new name and a new identity, but he would have to go through a transformation in order to live into that name. Jesus was going to cultivate something in Simon that would make him into Peter, the Stone/Rock. I think he is doing something similar here along the Sea of Galilee. I wanted to use the NET translation, because I particularly think it shows us that there is a future transforming that has to happen in order for them to become who they are called to be-- and there's transforming that has to happen for us too in order to become who we are called to be in Christ as well. It's a process, a journey, and a work that only Jesus can do in us. It's not going to happen overnight. His goodness and loving kindness is so immeasurable, He is willing to take the time and effort and energy into transforming us from who we are into who we will be. God doesn't ask for perfect people, but surrendered people, who are willing to drop their nets and surrender themselves to the work He is going to do within us.
Dear God, I am humbled by the knowledge that you are no longer fishing for people for judgment, but for redemption, by the work of Jesus. May we be so in awe of your graciousness that we are willing to drop our nets and follow you, no matter the cost on our side, because the cost for you is immeasurably greater. Make us into who you want us to be. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Dig Deeper: What do you think of this? Do you see how graciously good and kind God is, to turn the entire concept of "fishing for men" on its head? In light of this, what does this mean for you and me?