Mending Your Nets

The Ancient Tools of Net Mending (Still Used Today)

“And going on from there he saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets, and he called them.”

Matthew 4:21, ESV

“And immediately they left their nets and followed him.”

Mark 1:18

Fishing takes considerable effort. There is always something that needs to be done. To be honest, there is very little relationship between the 1st century commercial fisherman and our modern day guy on a new bass boat (with a big fridge for his beer.)

To mend nets was tedious but necessary. You would take your net and spread it on the ground in a open space. Every knot would be carefully examined. All holes would be repaired. Nothing was overlooked. Fishing nets were painstakingly maintained. Everyday, without fail.

Fish would school, and if your gear was right, and you were in a prime place, you could catch a lot. But at the same time, you could let hundreds of fish escape through a hole in your net. Each fish that escaped meant money lost.

Jesus walking along the beach surveyed the boats and crews. Since most of these guys had worked through the night, they were tired and maybe a bit “punchy.” Some had gotten somewhat lucky, while others had very little to show for working so hard. Most likely the different crews teased each other as they unloaded.

Jesus walked through the bunches of fisherman. He looked at their hauls to see what they had caught. But it wasn’t the catch He was looking at, it was the men. It was from these laboring fishermen that He would choose. These men were rough and tumble rednecks.

He stands and looks, and then commands. “You! Come and follow me, now.”

Now if you are looking for disciples– future apostles and leaders, the seashore is not the best place to recruit. They really have a rudimentary education. No theology, and just a meager understanding of Jewish ritual and religion. Essentially there was no time for them to think outside their occupation. Sure there just might be one, or two that possessed more, but that would be the exception.

But Jesus had no desire to interview them, and take the best of the lot. He didn’t have a Human Resources Department, there were no tests, and no forms that had to list references. He simply commanded, and those who understood followed. Only after they left it all did He get their names and addresses. I think that it is the same today.

Will we leave our boat, with the nets? Really, you can keep mending or you can follow Him– it’s your choice. Most of the time though, decisions have a tendency to be irrevocable. You have a moment, an instant of time to decide. Mending nets can be back-breaking and quite tedious. But following the Lord Jesus is an unknown. Many choose to keep mending. Others are launched into something new, and eternally significant.

The glaring truth is the necessity of obedience to Jesus’ command. There is no other voice we must hear. As a matter of fact, hearing (and really apprehending) is the only foundation we can trust to make our obedience true. You can keep mending your nets and preparing for another night on the water. That is always your prerogative. But if you decide to follow you will need to leave what you know behind. That is authentic discipleship.

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Catching Hearts Like Fish

Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people!” 

–Matthew 4:19

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The invitation to these fishermen was a ‘call’ to Himself. 

This is critical for us to note.  Jesus is not directing them to a broad set of religious ethics.  He is calling them to follow Him.  He is the exclusive Savior of everyone who needs a Savior.  We follow a man, not an idea.

There is also the intertwining of two distinct issues: That of evangelism, and that of discipleship.  The church for centuries has split these two, allowing them to be seen separately, and it hasn’t been healthy. These two distinct callings are to be welded together as one.

Typically we are focused on one or the other. People will gravitate to their giftings or temperament. But there is a potent strength when discipleship is paired with evangelism. We need disciples who can evangelize; and evangelists who are also disciples.

Jesus seeks people who will connect with Him.  He was looking through the throngs of those on the lake shore.  He probably watched several people before making His decision to extend His call.  He needs followers, like a steam engine needs coal.  I’m sure there was other possibilities.  What a joy though, to be asked to follow Him, by Him!  How empty life would be to decline on His offer and go back to the fishing nets.  I guess you can know too much, and it “ruins” you forever.

There is a sense of the comedic here in His call.  Jesus is suggesting that He will be teaching these veteran fisherman how to fish.  It’s apparent that these wizened men of the sea, had been fishing since they were mere boys.  Jesus essentially orders that Peter and Andrew stop what they were doing and follow, now.  Jesus would teach them “human fishing”– catching men!

By following, their old way would be forfeited.  They could not do both, (but they did try and once even followed Peter back to the old life).  But a separation happens as hearts and minds become set apart on the invitation, and then jump out of the boat on to the beach.

Jesus would teach these men.  They would learn the most critical and vital truths ever communicated on this planet.  Their classroom would follow them, and their instructor was eminently qualified and supremely gifted.  These new followers will ‘rock’ their world.  They would truly become, ‘Fishers of Men’.

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