FISHERS OF MEN (Pt. 3)

“Jesus called to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” He said, “Cast your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So they did, and there were so many fish that they couldn’t haul in the net” (John 21:5-6 CEB).

 

EBOLA

Recently I, along with my wife, had the occasion to join with believers within our citywide region of Dallas for a simple prayer meeting. There were people from various Christian Faith backgrounds, the faces of which represented a variety of ethnic backgrounds coming together as participants (Including the Mayor of the City of Dallas) for a united prayer meeting. We came together to humble ourselves before God as the Church “visible” in light of the attention, the fear, the anguish and grief that Ebola has caused.

Although Ebola has left many within our City with questions and assessments of blame, the Church visible has taken the lead (As She should) to address the issue, first before God. God’s word is clear in this regard, “When I close the sky so that there is no rain or I order the locusts to consume the land or I send a plague against my people, if my people who belong to me will humbly pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14 CEB).

God takes no pleasure in the death or suffering of people. But He will use suffering and pain to arrest our attention from our routine (& sometimes indifference) for a more eternal purpose. Recall the story that Luke highlights in the Gospel of Luke 13: “Some who were present on that occasion told Jesus about the Galileans whom Pilate had killed while they were offering sacrifices. He replied, “Do you think the suffering of these Galileans proves that they were more sinful than all the other Galileans? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did. What about those eighteen people who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them? Do you think that they were more guilty of wrongdoing than everyone else who lives in Jerusalem? No, I tell you, but unless you change your hearts and lives, you will die just as they did” (Luke 13:1-5 CEB).

Perhaps, some, among the company of Jesus thought in telling him (As if he was unaware) of the cruelty and injustice of their Jewish brethren that it would provoke him to act. Surely they thought, this would get him to move with a decisive “Messianic” reaction against Rome’s oppression and abuse of power (The powerful government over the poor & weak citizen). They had long endured religious persecution for their faith at the hands of Rome’s mighty empire. And yet, what they got from Jesus, in that moment, was not a REACTION but a RESPONSE to the plight of their human suffering and misery. “Unless your hearts and actions change, you will likewise perish”.

THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE BOAT

Jesus chose, in that moment, to deflect and redirect their focus from the things of time to the things of eternity (He was always attune to heaven’s frequency rather than the events of time; knowing that heaven longs to invade our moments of history). Perhaps, there is an application, found in John’s Gospel, Chapter 21, which will help. We read the account by John of Jesus, now resurrected, standing on the shoreline of Galilee. Simon Peter and his fishing partners were frustrated because they had toiled all night with no catch (Once again). Notice that Jesus did not upbraid them for their carnal response and lack of faith or understanding of the significance of his suffering, death, burial and resurrection.

Rather, Jesus with the tenderness of a parent caring for their child, redirects their focus and energy. “Cast your net on the right side of the boat”. And guess what? The catch that had formerly eluded them in the darkness of night was caught in their net! It was such a load of fish; they had difficulty bringing the catch to shore. The redirecting of their efforts and energy by the creative word of Jesus made the night of difficulty worth the toil.

Beloved, May we not allow our focus to be diverted in this hour. At the same time, may we all join with continual prayer, compassion and sensitivity for those affected by loss, grief, fear and anguish of heart. Let’s ask the Lord God for His mercy and strategy to stop the spread of Ebola. May we arise in faith to believe that God will use that that was meant for evil for ultimate good.   At His command, let us “Cast our net on the right side of our religious vessels” for the greater harvest for which we have so often “labored and caught nothing”.

Jesus wants to make His Church to become once again “Fishers of Men”. In the light of eternity…Let’s go fishing!

 

(c) Copyright 2014, Walter Fletcher Jr. All rights reserved. This article may be copied and shared free of charge provided that it is not sold or altered in any way from its original content. Please address all correspondence to: Walterfletcherjr@gmail.com

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