Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish
21 Afterwards Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee.[a] It happened this way: 2 Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus[b]), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. 3 ‘I’m going out to fish,’ Simon Peter told them, and they said, ‘We’ll go with you.’ So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
4 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realise that it was Jesus.
5 He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered.
6 He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.
In many ways this does feel like an apt picture of the Church… Struggling away fishing all night but with nothing, or at least not much, certainly not what we’d have liked or dreamed off, to show for our efforts…
These fishermen were professionals, they ought to be be able to fish, it was their specialism, their expertise… Yet today they probably felt a bit like frauds, fishermen who can’t fish.
Yet when they did listened to Jesus, his way worked, what is more it was more than they could handle and they had to ask the other boat to help…
I was at an event today with the leader -Pastor Yenku- from the Gate, a Baptist Church in Reading, who has seen the most remarkable number of people becoming Christians.
He spoke of how as an experienced Pastor he had it all mapped out, with ideas for a mini mission, follow up, alpha and discipleship explored, a nice neat structure, yet God started showing up, and his structures were like the nets in this story that couldn’t contain what God was doing.
In fact containing what God was doing, wasn’t the plan, rather to steward it wisely, the Holy Spirit blows where he wills, he doesn’t want to be contained within the Church, or even within the confinement of one individual Church or congregation, but rather like the picture from the passage above, causes us to need to work together with a mindset bigger than just our own boat, thinking not just our congregation but Gods Kingdom, and this Kingdom wants to break out onto the street.
The Pentecost story starts with the disciples hidden away behind closed doors and ends up with the Gospel having reached Rome… The gospel explodes and is uncontainable and spreads like wildfire across the (then known world), yet too often much of today’s Christianity looks pre-Pentecost rather than post Pentecost.
Pastor Yenku said “the challenge isn’t getting Christians into Church, but rather to get them out of it”. John Wimber talked of the Acts 2 Church and the ethos for Vineyard the Church he founded and he used to say “everyone gets to play” -in other words all the stuff isn’t just for biblical characters and crazy vicary types, but for everyone who follows Christ. David Pytches, the founder and former leader of New Wine, talked of “The meeting place (Church) is the training place for the market place”. Pastor Yenku challenged us as Church, asking whether we have kept this to ourselves.
This idea, that evangelism isn’t just for the evangelists, or for a few enthusiastic members but actually for all, ordinary, every day Christians (which is actually what we all are!)
In Reading one of the greatest evangelists is one of the teenagers from their youth group, and the great and good news is that for these young people that being hands on in mission and discipleship becomes for them normative Christianity.
In fact there are stories of people who have become Christians going back out into the street the next day, which often feels wrong for us as Church, which normally when someone becomes a Christian we keep them in Church and get them all Institutionalised and out of touch before we let them back out.
It’s risky, it’s messy, but actually it’s exciting, it’s what leadership I’m Christ’s Church is like, where we all go out and seek the Lord and work to see him glorified, meeting and starting not where we’d like the, but where we actually are.
A move of the spirit which takes the church from the builfings and uses its people to share the good news with those we meet.