Have you ever had a really bad habit? Maybe an old pattern of thinking or way of life that you know you shouldn’t revert back to? Maybe it’s something you finally let go of but only comes up every now and then when you are stressed, anxious, or confused. Well believe me, you’re not the only one. Let’s take a look at Jesus’ disciples and see if they ever struggled with reverting back to old familiar ways.
Remember when Jesus called his first disciples? What were they doing? They were practicing their trade and conducting their business – catching fish. Jesus shows up on the scene to teach them their first big lesson – a lesson of faith and obedience. They had not been catching anything all day and Jesus calls out to them from the shore and tells them to let down their nets on the opposite side of their boat. Their faith and obedience result in an extremely large catch of fish and an immediate life change for all of them. They then immediately drop everything, including their former way of life, to follow Jesus and become fishers of men (ref. Luke 5:1-11).
Now fast forward to the days just following Jesus’ crucifixion. The disciples are distraught and hurt from what has just happened to their Master and Friend. So what did they decide to do? What was easy; what they were most familiar with – catch fish.
“It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. ‘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” (John 21:1-3).
Jesus had already told them to be fishers of men. They didn’t need to be fishing for fish; they needed to be out spreading the Gospel and fishing for lost souls! Now, we don’t know their hearts or their motivation for why they decided to go fishing that evening. Maybe it was calming for them to be on a boat. It could have been a momentary pause in life for them to catch their breaths after all they had been through and witnessed so far with Jesus. It was their familiar way of life, an old way of thinking.
Well, Jesus decides to show up after his resurrection and teaches them the basics all over again. It was the exact same lesson of faith they were taught on their first meeting which had led to their life change and new life mission – to become fishers of men.
“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’ ‘No,’ they answered. 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 (John 21:4-6).
Jesus’ simple reminder to have faith spurred them back into their ministries full speed ahead to start spreading the gospel unto the ends of the earth. Simply put, Jesus didn’t want them catching fish. He reminded them of His power and what He originally purposed for them to do – to be on shore spreading the gospel! So, let go of everything and fall back on Jesus, not on what you used to be or used to know. I leave you with the following verse of encouragement:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us (Hebrews 12:1).