Leave Your Nets Behind

January 23, 2011
As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, 
he saw two brothers, 
Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother 
casting his net into the sea because they were fishermen.
Matthew 4.18

They were casting their nets into the sea because they were fishermen.  That seems like an incredibly obvious thing for Matthew to point out to us.  But his point is that their fishing isn’t recreational fishing, they’re trying to make a living.

Fishermen rated a little lower on the social spectrum than lots of other people.  Its easy to see why: they worked crazy hours, it was hard, heavy work and they had to undertake it in all kinds of difficult weather. 

At the other end of the spectrum, the most honored and revered position was rabbi.   Every Jewish boy would have been exposed to the Hebrew Scriptures, which we call the Old Testament. The promising ones would get a little more attention.  But only the best and the brightest would become rabbinical students.  

So when Matthew tells us that Andrew and Peter are fishermen, he’s also telling us that they’ve already learned that they don’t have what it takes to follow a rabbi. That’s the context in which Jesus invites them to follow him.  He’s the new rabbi in town, an overnight celebrity, tremendously popular with the crowds.

On one level, this is a pretty simple invitation for them to accept. Instead of spending the rest of their lives lugging around smelly, dead fish they have the chance of a life time to get the dream job of every Jewish boy, following this new rabbi, who might just be the next really big deal.  

And yet, on another level, Peter and Andrew were fishermen. They like fishing, they were comfortable with it. If you go back and read the gospels chronologically, this isn’t the first time Peter met Jesus, or even the second. John’s gospel tells us that Peter met Jesus near Bethany, and afterwards he didn’t follow him.  He went back to Capernaum, to fish. Luke tells us Jesus went fishing with Peter and they caught a huge catch, so large it freaked Peter out, and he begs Jesus to leave him alone. Peter and Andrew didn’t know what was ahead or where they were going with Jesus. They’ve already been told they don’t have what it takes to follow a rabbi and one other thing: they have to leave their nets behind. 

They had to leave their nets behind. The nets were their livelihood, their security, their comfort, their next meal.  Their nets were their plan.

When God has a call on our life for something new, its always going to be something bigger. God often challenges us that our vision is too small and he wants us to catch the bigger vision he has for our life. That’s great, but it’s always less comfortable, because we have to leave the nets behind.

What nets do you need to leave behind to more authentically follow the Lord Jesus as his disciple?

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