Fish and Treasure

Lake_Erie_Sunset_with_fish_net

“And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him.”- Luke 5:11

“Jesus is the cake.”- Storey

In a small group I’m a part of this story in Luke 5 was brought up recently. My friend encouraged us in a fantastic way, begging us to look at the response of the disciples.

The disciples have toiled all night but have come up fishless. In His simple manner, Jesus gets in Peter’s boat, gives some simple instructions, and the disciples end up with nets bulging and breaking with fish. As they heave the fish on board, the profound weight starts to actually sink the small fishing boats that the disciples are occupying. The parallels are easily seen. There is no success, no life, no measure of purpose and meaning without the Son of God. We who labor will labor in vain until the Son of Man visits us and gives us purpose in the midst of our mundane. What a blessing in the form of fish! But the end of the story is more jarring.

When they get to the shore, they leave all their bounty to follow Christ. These disciples have just gathered in the mother-load of fish, the lottery of all lotteries! Their life is built on fishing, and they have just secured enough fish for a substantial sum of money and security! But the person of Jesus turns it all upside down. The disciples, though clueless at times, respond in a beautiful way. They see that the singular difference between their vain work in the dark of the night and the abundant provision of the day is Jesus Christ. He makes the difference. The disciples realize in the struggle to get these fish on board, that the only reason they will experience security and life is because there is another figure in the boat with them. Their life, infact, is not built on fishing, but on Jesus. He is the Giver of Life, Life Itself. So when Jesus gets out of the boat, they have no choice but to follow.

Christ blesses His people with abundance and provision. He gives us beautiful memories, wonderful people, and meaningful experiences in our work. Sometimes they are physical blessings, others are of a different kind. For seasons He is in a wooden boat, working in the center of what we have always known. But sometimes He gets out of the boat and walks on. Here, we must never mistake fish for treasure. We experience blessing and beauty not because of the gifts but because of the Giver. This means that sometimes Christ takes us out of our boats and into the unknown. The disciples did not know the epic ride they were buckling in for when they dropped their nets full of blessing. They did not understand the suffering, pain, and overwhelming joy that would invade their lives at the time of their call. But they left it all. Why? Because they understood that if Christ was calling them away, they had no choice but to follow. Christ was their Life, He was their Blessing, and He was their Treasure. I’m sure leaving those fish was painful for the disciples. I’m sure they were a little fearful and a little unsettled. Maybe they were very unsettled. The Scriptures only record for us their response. “They left everything and followed him.” Our call is to treasure Christ above His blessings, and He is easy to treasure when we realize all that we gain in Him. We are given salvation in the ultimate sense. Forgiveness, grace, mercy, adoption, never ending joy, worth, acceptance, and much more are ours in Christ. But most of all, we get Him. It doesn’t mean that leaving His blessings isn’t hard. Sometimes we idolize His blessings, sometimes we simply love them. But when Jesus calls us away, we respond like Peter in saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know that you are the Holy One of God,” (John 6:68-69). We have no life apart from Him, no glory apart from Him, no Him apart from Him. Fish can often be mistaken for Treasure, but as my missionary friend Storey says, “Jesus is the cake,” not His blessings.

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