Fishing for People.


“Come, follow me, and I will show you how to fish for people”

— Mark 1:17

For some time, I imagined this being Jesus’ very first encounter with these men. If that were the case, there must have been much more going on beneath the fleshly veneer to draw them out of their boats. Not that they fell into a trance, or a spell was cast, per se. But, something beyond human occurred. A sliding of gears into place. A synchronicity. Maybe a longing, so deep the radar had missed it, was met as he approached. An eternal polarity pulling at them, moving their hands to drop nets and feet to clumsily jump overboard.

I’ve also thought maybe this wasn’t their first encounter with him. Scripture often hits the high points, and this could be one of them. They could have seen him teaching the day before and had a long conversation with him. Or, weeks or months worth of approaches might have led up to this breaking away.

Perhaps some would argue the first possibility would infringe upon Free Will. This shouldn’t scare anyone. I feel comforted and can sympathize with the thought of an unnamed, unrealized, largely imperceptible Incompleteness occurring within the depths. Below sinews and cells. And, then this incompleteness making itself known at the appearance of what can resolve it. It’s messy, this kind of thinking. There’s so much happening without us giving the nod, or verbal permission. Yet, the response of the soul to the Great Thing seems to be permission enough.

In either case, they left with him.

They knew enough about fishing to teach a few things to Jesus. But Jesus was more interested in people than fish. They were so invested for obvious reasons — it was a way of life, a means to provide. This was not a dream job, it was a common trade to help one subsist. They were probably very good at it. And, they might have done fairly well for themselves. Who knows.

Jesus wasn’t asking them to come work for him, or to help him start a great venture. He was calling them out of the workforce. His invitation was to leave goods and services in the boat, to discard of practical economics. They had been giving their lives to fish. He was asking them to think bigger.

“Follow me” was muddy at the moment. For the time, it meant get out of the boat and walk with me. Easy enough, but where are we going? No answers as of yet. Just walk with me.

How will this provide? Answer: Just follow me.

What he did give them was an overarching idea of what they would be doing. They would be learning to fish again. For people.

We don’t even know if this part appealed to them yet. The people part. Likely it didn’t so much draw them as the idea of being with him. What he offered was more exciting than their routine. The specifics would unfold at the given time.

The boat represented what they thought of as safe. It was what they could grasp. If they sat in it, they would float. Jump out and they would sink.

May you follow him out of the boat today without needing to know where you are going. Don’t let what you would consider “safe” stand between you and a richer life. What is your “boat” anyway? Is being safe enough for you, or are you curious to know what lies beyond the surface?

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