One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers—Simon, also called Peter, and Andrew—throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” Matthew 4:18-19
On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, “Doesn’t your teacher pay the Temple tax?” “Yes, he does,” Peter replied. Then he went into the house. But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, “What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?” “ They tax the people they have conquered,” Peter replied. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “the citizens are free! However, we don’t want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.” Matthew 17:24-27
Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it. John 21:6
A fish story is an exaggerated tall tale that is partially true and partially false. The above three fish stories are not exaggerated, but true stories because I believe the word of God to be very true. The first story Jesus is calling his disciples and laying the groundwork for the foundation of the early church. He tells them they will not just fish for fish, but fish for men’s souls. The next fish story Jesus shows that each of us have untapped potential within us by the coin being found and the tax being paid. The last story talks about how Jesus led them to a great area to fish and they catch more fish than the boat could carry. Jesus usually talked about us as sheep, but in this instance He refers to us as fish. The fish is also the Christian symbol used by the early church to identify believers. When the early church was being persecuted, they had to have certain precautions so they used the fish symbol. These three fish stories have particular significance for how we live our lives.
The first one is the most important one, Jesus calling the disciples to follow Him and become fishers of men. Today He is calling us all to follow Him and to allow Him to take control of our lives and give us freedom. The best way we can do that is by living for other people. Not just those we love, that’s easy, but for those we don’t know and may be difficult to love. Being a fisher of man means to love people without conditions being a factor. The best gospel ever preached, the best Jesus people could see is by not allowing conditions in our love and serving those that need help. A life that lacks regret is a life that knows no conditions.
The next fish story is the miracle of the coin in the fish. Jesus catches us, now we have to catch others. Unconditional love sees the value in those we catch. Yes, that fish story is about the miracle of paying the tax with the coin in the fish, but I think it runs much deeper than that. Jesus knows we all have deep in us untapped potential waiting to be released by a life surrendered to Him. Being a godly friend to someone can build them up and cause them to find that potential. Another word for godly friend is disciple. When we do life with others, we give value to the lives around us.
The last fish story is significant in the fact that it happened after Jesus rose from the dead. He gave them the place they needed to catch a bunch of fish, so much so, that the catch was going to sink their boat. Jesus never gives half way; He gives it all. When you live your life with others in mind, you will find yourself influencing more people than you ever thought you would. I think this fish catch was Jesus prediction that the disciples would have an impact on a great number of people over the next few generations. Your life as well can have a positive effect on those around you.
Following Jesus will help you love others and see their value, which can affect lives for years to come. Being an influence for Jesus is the best way to live a life without regret and Jesus will say well done.
© [David Howard], [David’s Body Temple], 2011-2015.