Scott Jones – Gilbert Campus Pastor

Boat on beach

There’s an old story about a fisherman who was hugely successful. Each morning he’d take his small boat out on the lake and within a few hours he would return with a boatload of fish. People wondered how he did it. One day a stranger showed up and asked the man if he could go along the next time he went out fishing. The man said, “Sure, meet me here tomorrow morning at 5:00 and we’ll go out.” The next morning the two of them made their way through the early morning mist to a small cove where the fisherman stopped the boat and cut off the motor. The stranger wondered where the man’s fishing equipment was. He had no rod and reel. All the stranger saw was a small net and a rusty tackle box. Slowly the man pulled the tackle box over to himself, opened it, and took out a red stick of dynamite. Taking a match, he lit the fuse of the dynamite, held it for a moment and heaved it into the water. There was a tremendous blast!

Soon he was scooping up fish in his net and filling up the boat. After watching this, the stranger reached into his hip pocket and flashed the badge of a Game Warden. He said, “You’re under arrest.” This didn’t seem to rattle the fisherman in the least. He reached into the tackle box, pulled out another stick of dynamite, lit it, held it for a moment while the fuse burned down, and then handed it to the Game Warden. “Now,” he said, “Are you just going to just sit there or are you going to fish?”

That’s the question every Christ follower is challenged with. “Are you just going to just sit there or are you going to fish?” I realize that question makes us feel like we’re holding a stick of dynamite and none of us likes to be put in that position. But here’s why this question matters: because when Jesus burst onto the scene and called people to follow him he said that if they will, he’d make them into something that they’re not. What was that?

Did he say, If you follow me I will make you a better father or mother? No. Better husband or wife? No. More spiritual, wiser, richer? Nope, nope, nope. Did he say that if you follow me I will make you into the most inspiring leader that everyone will want to follow? Not that either. What he said was, “Follow me I will make you fishers of people.”

So at the very heart of being a Christ follower is allowing Jesus to turn us into the kind of people who are actively engaging with those who have yet to believe. Why? Because of what’s on the line. Do you remember the person who “fished you out of the water?” And aren’t you grateful that when God prompted them, they decided to fish—they listened to God enough and they cared enough for you that they told you about the grace and mercy of God. That’s what’s on the line!

There’s a great fish story in Luke 5 where Jesus challenged a couple of businessmen to rethink everything they had given their lives to and invited them to move from small time to big time impact. The story involves Peter, Andrew, James and John (Jesus’ first disciples) who were small business owners in the fishing industry. They’re on the shore working on their equipment after a complete loss the night before, and just down the beach Jesus is teaching a crowd. As the crowd swells Jesus turns Peter’s boat into a floating platform so he can keep teaching. We don’t know what his topic was but now its application time and Jesus wants to see if Peter is ready to put the Word of God into play.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch.” (Luke 5:4) 

Now you have to put yourself in Peter’s sandals to get a real feel for this moment. Peter is a career fisherman. He’s caught more fish in a day than Jesus has caught in his entire life. There’s a lot that could’ve been going on in his mind. He might have been thinking:

  • “The best fishing is at night, not in the day time.”
  • “All these crowds and loud teaching has scared the fish away.”
  • “Jesus may know carpentry but I know fish.”

Imagine Jesus telling you how to run your business. You might be a little skeptical at first. But even though Peter is only working on a few hours sleep he has the presence of mind to remember who is making the ask.

Simon answered, “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” (Luke 5:5)

I think we have to start here…because you say so.” Whenever we have any discussion about what to do with our life, our time, our talent, our money, it begins with us surrendering to Jesus Christ.

Our relationship with Jesus determines our desire to fish.

 If he matters to us, then what he says will matter to us. And we will do it. If we are not doing what he says, then let’s be honest with ourselves and admit that he doesn’t matter that much to us. At least we know where we are. So first we have to come to a point in our relationship with Jesus Christ that enables us to say, “Because you say so, I will.” Peter and Andrew did.

When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break. So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink. (Luke 5:6-7)

And then while everyone is in a state of exuberant pandemonium, Jesus exploits the moment and gives the punch line of the miracle.

“From now on you will catch people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:11)

He said, “Completely redefine your vision of success!” He said, “If you think catching a boat load of fish is exciting. If you think there’s adventure in a successful business enterprise, then try multiplying that by 1000X. That’s the thrill of working with me to transform people’s lives for eternity!”

Jesus says netting destinies is better than netting dollars.

Jesus is saying to you and me as he said to Peter, Andrew, James and John, “Forget everything you’ve believed about what brings joy, adventure and happiness. Starting now I’m inviting you to become fishers of men and women — whether you’re a stay at home Mom or a CEO — to give the best of your time and talent, the best of your heart, the best of your money to invest in something that will last forever. Don’t waste your life by living for the temporal.”

This doesn’t mean that you have to quit your job or sell your business and go into professional ministry. It might for some of you. But for others that would be out of the will of God. But it does mean that your business, your job, your way of life should be seen as a ”fishing enterprise” where you surrender your income, your resources, your time, to God for something far greater than netting profits alone and spending them on things that won’t last. Go for something grander. Because of what’s on the line. So…..

“Are you just going to just sit there or are you going to fish?”




Fish Stories

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