In the Bible, the book of Luke describes a spectacular fishing story with an amazing catch.
Jesus was standing by a huge lake called the Sea of Galilee teaching a crowd of people the word of God. As the people listened intently, a group of fisherman had left their boats close by and tended to their nets. Jesus asked one of the owners of the boat, Simon, if he could teach from the boat so his voice could project to the large crowd continuing to gather.
When he had finished sharing, Jesus imparted some fishing advice to the fishermen who were skunked the night before.
Timeout in the story: we live in a fishing community and after a long day of fishing with no luck — nobody wants to hear fishing advice, especially from a carpenter turned rabbi.
According to the text, Jesus then told Simon to go back out into the boat, get out to the deep water and try his nets on the other side of the boat and get ready for a great catch. Picture this: Simon was tired, discouraged and probably getting annoyed at this fishing advice. Simon seems to muster up a respectful response of protest to the rabbi as he says in verse 5, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything.”
Just when one thinks this respectful pushback would allow him to call it a day and go home, we see a thread of faith extended from Simon to Jesus. Simon continues to say to Jesus, “But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” Simon is open to Jesus and in faith actively lives out Jesus’ advice.
What follows next is unbelievable! Simon lets down his nets and immediately his nets are so full that they start to break. He summons his partners in another boat and they fill up that one as well — to the point they start to sink!
Jesus allows Simon and the others present to experience the power of God beyond just catching a lot of fish. Astonished, Simon responds to Jesus by falling at his feet and says, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Simon was coming clean about his unbelief in Jesus. In essence he was saying he was not worthy and undeserving of God’s love. Simon’s life was characterized by doubt and sin that had separated him from God’s love.
Jesus, through his grace and mercy, extended redemption to Simon as he told him not to live in fear but in freedom of a new way life. After this fishing venture, Simon left everything to follow Jesus and was captivated with a life of freedom that only Jesus can give.
Here, on the Kenai Peninsula, I know many people who have some incredible fish stories. Maybe you have even been blessed with boat’s full of fish, but have you experienced the freedom of being in relationship with Jesus? Like Peter, you can also catch this freedom by experiencing Jesus.
Frank Alioto is the pastor of The River Covenant Church, which meets Sundays at 10 a.m. at The Challenger Learning Center in Kenai, 9711 Kenai Spur Hwy. Join us for our currents series, “Amazing Catches.” Frank also serves as a chaplain with Central Emergency Services and can be reached at 252-2828 or www.therivercovenantchurch.org.