A Sidebar on the Sandbar: New Testament Fishing

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Ezekiel 47:10–12 (NIV)

“Fishermen will stand along the shore; from En Gedi to En Eglaim there will be places for spreading nets. The fish will be of many kinds—like the fish of the Mediterranean Sea. But the swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they will be left for salt. Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.”

CONSIDER THIS

Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead! 
Your turn: And Christ will shine on you.

I like to keep it interesting around here. I wondered if you might be going to sleep with our daily greeting on repeat. 

And it’s time to chant again:

Everywhere the river flows everything will live. (clap)
Everywhere the river flows everything will live. (clap)
Everywhere the river flows everything will live. (clap)

We have finally made it. We are approaching En Eglaim. There are lots of people fishing today. Jesus is going on ahead of us today to get some things ready for our next couple of days in the marshes. So today, you have me, the pilgrim guide. (Someday we are going to actually go to the Holy Land together you know.)

So for today, I want us to sit down on the edge of this sandbar under that large shade tree. I want to ask you to permit me a bit of latitude here to make an observation I wouldn’t claim from the text, yet I believe is supported by the larger witness of Scripture. It’s kind of a BFO (blinding flash of the obvious). I want to talk about New Testament fishing. I want to talk about nets. 

Remember how Jesus called his first disciples? Remember what they were doing when he found them? Yep. Fishing. Here’s the call:

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him (Matt. 4:19–20).

Perhaps like you, I have almost exclusively thought about fishing as bait fishing—cane pole, rod and reel, fishing line, and bait. The bait can be live or artificial. We call them lures. They often have shiny features about them. The only reason I ever used a net was to get a hooked fish out of the water and into the boat. Some of you see where I am going already. 

New Testament fishing, which is to say Jesus kind of Holy Spirit fishing, is net fishing. We are told those first followers of Jesus “left their nets and followed him.” Here’s the miracle. Over the next three years he transformed their lives and relationships into a net and that became the New Testament church. And did they ever catch fish—from Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria and all the way to the ends of the Earth—even you and me. 

Can you see this net I’m holding in my hand? I’ll pass it around. In fact, I want everyone to gather around, stretch it out, and hold it together. What is a net anyway? A net is nothing less and nothing more than a strategic collection of well tied knots. Let that sink in. Mending nets, which is what those first disciples were doing when Jesus found them, is simply retying knots. 

Yes, friends, I believe one of the biggest mistakes we make as the church is we, too, left those nets on the shoreline that day by the Sea of Galilee and we have mistakenly thought fishing for people meant bait fishing. I believe it is time to recover the net as something of a sacramental sign of the New Testament church itself. 

The New Testament church is a net, which is nothing less and nothing more than a strategic collection of well tied knots. And those knots—they are the very bonds between us. In the church Jesus is building, as we participate in the fellowship (koinonia) of the Holy Spirit, Jesus ties our lives together into a net of relationships, which he wills to cast into the deep waters of this world to fish for people. 

Notice where these fishermen are in the text. They are spread out from En Gedi to En Eglaim. Do you realize where that is? It’s way past the river. They are fishing all along the shoreline of THE DEAD SEA (all caps for emphasis–aka shouting). 

We are a long way from the temple complex aren’t we? Imagine trying to lure all these fish to swim all the way up river (i.e., bait them to the temple) to meet us there on Sunday. It would be absurd wouldn’t it? Just saying. 

We are going go give you some free time today to try some net fishing yourselves. You might want to check out the Dead Sea skin products while you are here too. And there are some cool Jesus Net key rings in the gift shop. lol. We head to the marshes tomorrow. 

Okay, on three: 1-2-3

Everywhere the river flows everything will live. (clap)
Everywhere the river flows everything will live. (clap)
Everywhere the river flows everything will live. (clap)

Still day one. 

THE PRAYER

God our Father, who with your son Jesus Messiah, fills us with the Holy Spirit, thank you for the miracle and the mystery of the day of Pentecost. And thank you for today, and that it is only the day after. Jesus, it is amazing to see you bring the Dead Sea to life. Teach me how to fish for people. Teach me net fishing. Show me what it means for my life to become knotted with others in your name and in the bond of your Spirit. I want to be part of this. Praying in your name, Jesus, amen. 

THE QUESTION

So what are all the implications of bait fishing vs. net fishing? What insights are coming to you? 

P.S. Instagram Live today

Hi Seedbed family, Katharine Guerrero here, I am a Sowing Specialist here at Seedbed and I want to invite you to join Lo Alaman and me for a conversation about the Holy Spirit and New Room. Follow us on Instagram HERE, @newroomconf at 1:15 CST today (7.14.22) and stay tuned because we will be having more conversations like this with others from the Seedbed community.

 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

7 COMMENTS

  1. J D, I’m moved by this particular Daily Text. I’m currently involved with an ecumenical mens study group of lay leaders from various local churches. One of my personal goals, as a co-facilitator for this group is to help us all to envision a way to help the various congregations that they are part of to become more like the churches we see described in the NT. Your description of fishing for people with nets of people knotted together in relationships brought to mind that these knotted relationships could also represent NETWORKS of communities of faith working together for kingdom expansion. The idea of individual congregations competing for members like businesses fighting for market shares has got to go. This is counter-productive to God’s purpose for the Church. Thanks.

  2. New Testament net fishing doesn’t work if you don’t have a network of people connected heat-to-heart with the living Jesus and with one another. As the inner spiritual knots that tied the earliest Christians together loosened and came undone, many Christians shifted from heart-to-heart connections to institutional connection. They turned from ekklesia (being knit together by the free flowing of the internal rivers of the living Jesus) to church (being held together by external human organizations). Human hearts can connect beautifully with other human hearts, but they can’t connect well with institutions. The New Testament ekklesia is united heart-to-heart and overflows with the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit (the inner workings of the risen Jesus) creating a beautiful climate of Christ’s presence that works as a net to continually draw people to Him. Church connection, however, is based on baiting people and hooking them with religious candy, coercion, and control. Check out Emil Brunner’s, a world-famous Swiss theologian who died in 1966, thoughts on this: https://hopethoughts.com/2017/05/19/emil-brunner-quotes-about-ekklesia/

  3. I wrote this yesterday for my FB page. I believe it is an example of net fishing: Instead of a thought for the day, I have a story/testimony to share with you. Yesterday, I volunteered at The Victory Mission, it is a homeless shelter for men. This shelter has three places for men to live in. Most men first enter the free shelter. This is a place where they can stay for 30 days rent free. They can shower, clean their clothes, have a free breakfast/dinner and have a safe place to sleep. The next lodge is called Transitional Living. Here, men can stay as long as they want with the same privileges, but they do have to pay $13 a day to stay. The third lodge is called Restoration. The men who are here participate in several programs that help to restore their dignity, change their lives and leave no longer a victim but have victory over their lives.
    Now, I can share with you all the details, rules and steps for staying in The Victory Mission, but that is not the purpose of this story. If you want to learn more about The Victory Mission you can use this link https://www.victorymission.com/. My purpose is to share the experience of the “Living Waters” of Jesus that flows from out of this shelter and the people who work there.
    I am working at the front desk, which is the hub of the shelter. There is one access to this building and all who enter makes first contact with who is ever at the desk. I am working with two men. One who is in Phase III of the Restoration program and the other who only stayed in the free and transitional lodge. (I’ll call them James and John) Both of these men exhibited a joy and light that you couldn’t help but envy. I don’t know all of their background, but I do know at one time in their lives they were homeless, drugs were involved and who know what else, they had nothing. Yet, I could not detect any anger or resentment that they may have harbored, instead all I saw and experienced was their joy. When I asked them what was the biggest take-away they had from staying at The Victory Mission, without hesitation, they both answered: finding Jesus in their lives and becoming a friend of Jesus. Knowing the kind of love that only God can give. When I asked them if they plan to eventually work somewhere else, they looked at me like I was crazy. They wanted to work here at the Victory Mission helping others find their own victory over their lives and finding the love of God. One plans to go on and be a chaplain for the Restoration program and the other, is shift supervisor for the front desk of the men’s shelter. They do not want to be anywhere else. It is obvious they love their job. They love the men who come to the shelter. They are filled with the knowledge that they now belong to Christ and Christ is in them, they are eager to live their lives as Jesus would live their lives.
    One of the main jobs (at least it was for the time I was there) was admitting men who came to seek shelter. Some men came from right off the street, some directly from jail, some from alcohol and rehab centers. Some of these men had that blank look on their faces that made you think they have given up on their lives. Some were shaking so bad they could hardly hold a pen. But all who came, came because they had nothing and nowhere else to go, the world had given up on them. And what did these men who came to the shelter find? They found love, they found no condemnation, they were treated with dignity and with open arms.
    Part of the process of being admitted is getting background information. James and John, were responsible for getting this information. Some hard questions had to be asked, like when was the last time you drank, used THC or harder drugs. But never in asking these questions did they show any less respect or love to the men answering. Instead, they reassured them, that no matter their answer they would still be welcomed. If they said yes to any of those questions, they would say it’s okay man, we just needed this information for our records. Then they would gently explain to them that this was a dry shelter and if they choose to stay here for the thirty days, they could not partake of drugs or alcohol. But no matter what they choose, they are welcomed to stay this night in the shelter. There was not judgement, they were treated with dignity and love.
    In the book of Ezekiel it says: “Wherever the river flows, everything will live.” That river is Jesus in us and that river flows strong in James and John. From James and John, Jesus flows, and every man who stands at their bank, receives the love of Jesus.

  4. I see a net of many four-notted squares. Every third-four square is Jesus. And He is the connected knot to each adjoining square, even if that knot is me. For in my power the nest will fray, but in Christ with Christ’s power that is in me and you, we are strong.
    Matthew 18:20
    For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”

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