Lesson Thirty Eight
TEACHING AND HEALING
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Captain Jim is my son-in-law’s father. He’s an expert fisherman with wide experience catching all kinds of fish. He’s in high demand as individuals and groups hire him for charter fishing expeditions. They always come back with more fish than you can count and there are frequent returning customers. So, when we were in the area on vacation, it was natural to have a family evening cruise.
My other son-in-law had never caught a fish, let alone some salmon, so he was excited. We all sailed in anticipation of the great fishing ahead. Captain Jim went to one of his “secret” spots where the fish all but jumped in the boat. Nothing. We went to another spot. Nothing. The third time you could sense the quietness in the boat. What happened to Captain Jim’s touch?
What happened to Captain Jim’s touch?
That might be what Peter was thinking. All night spent in a boat doing nothing but thinking because no fish swam into his net. He’d not experienced a night like this in quite a while or maybe never. As the sun rose, the discouraged fishermen returned to shore with nothing but wet nets filled with seaweed and slime.
On the shore, a crowd was gathered around Jesus. This Teacher wasn’t unfamiliar to Peter or his fishing companions. In fact, they’d followed Him for the past year. They’d seen water turned to wine, healings of all kinds, including Peter’s mother-in-law, and heard Him preach many times. But while they followed Jesus, it wasn’t a full-time commitment. Always they returned to fishing. Families had to eat. Zebedee needed the help. Peter had a business to run.
Peter had a business to run.
On this particular morning, Jesus asked to use Peter’s boat as a pulpit. As Jesus taught, Peter and the others listened while cleaning their nets. Just as they’d finished—nets were clean, folded, and Peter was ready to nap, Jesus asked him to let down his nets again. Peter agreed while internally resisting. He knew where to fish, how to fish, all the secret places. This wasn’t going to work, but out of respect, he did it. That’s when it happened.
For us, the sun was setting when Captain Jim took us to one more place. He was confident fish would be caught. My son-in-law cast his rod and a fish was on the line within seconds. After an arduous and slow-paced reel, an enormous salmon was in the net and on the boat. A cheer went up all around.
Peter’s catch was much bigger. More fish than could fit in the boat! You can imagine the cheers. That is, except for one—Peter. He was suddenly struck by who Jesus was. He hadn’t committed to Him before, but when Jesus demonstrated who really controlled the fish, Peter threw himself at Jesus’ knees.
Where are we? Are we halfway between our commitment to Jesus and our work? Do we do some things for Him, and the rest of the time tend to our own needs? Jesus is in the boat—our boat. He is ready to care for us by providing an abundance of needs. He only asks for full-time commitment: “Follow Me and be renewed.”
“For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken; and so also were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid. From now on you will catch men.” So, when they had brought their boats to land, they forsook all and followed Him” (Luke 5:9-11).
In verse 10, Jesus tells Simon and the others not to be afraid. Their job will now be to “catch” men. Obviously, Jesus was referencing the large catch of fish that had just been pulled into the two boats. The fishermen were skilled at catching fish, and now they will become skilled at catching men.
The Greek word used here for “catch,” is zōgreō, which means “alive” or “living,” and the Greek word, agreuō, which means “to catch.” Together it means “to take alive.” Jesus uses language that Peter, Andrew, James, and John understand. But in this case instead of fish, which are caught and then die as a result, they will catch men who will live, and because of the Gospel will live eternally.
Making it Real
Our call is no different than it was for Peter. Peter left fishing to follow Jesus completely. We aren’t all called to do this, but we are called. Think this week about how you have been called. What is it God is asking you to do for Him?
If you have children and some time, write some scriptures on index cards (some ideas: Joshua 1:9, Philippians 4:4, Numbers 6:24, Colossians 3:2, Hebrews 13:8, Psalm 150:6, Proverbs 3:5, Matthew 5:14, Colossians 3:20, Ephesians 4:32). Place a paper clip on the end of each card. Then find a straight stick or pole, and add some string with a magnet at the end. Have your child go fishing for Jesus’s words for them. Help them understand why the messages are for them.
Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, born in 2023. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.