Gone Fishin’

What kind of associations does the idea of fishing raise for you?  Leisure time?  Quiet?  Peace?  Stillness?  (Hopefully not a few beers.)

That’s not the kind of fishing that Simon and Andrew did.  (James and John, I’m not so sure about.  They had a boat.  And servants.  But I’m sure they worked hard, too.)  Simon and Andrew have one or more nets.  Each one is about 10-15 feet across.  The edges are weighted down with stones.  They stand in the water and hurl the nets.  The stones make it fall quickly, hopefully with fish in it.  A rope cinches the net, trapping the fish inside.  A big haul is a mixed blessing:  lots of fish, but lots of weight to lug back in.  The process is repeated after the net is emptied.  It is repeated all night long.

Mark 1:16-17 not only mentions the casting of the net, but repeats the idea that they were fishers.  Jesus invites them to become fishers of men.  There are a lot of symbolic meanings that might be at work here, but I want to look at something else:  Jesus is calling them to hard labor.  Whereas almost without exception, students chose their own rabbis/teachers, Jesus chose them.  Whereas other students would have studied and learned, sedentary, Jesus is calling them to hard physical labor, at least metaphorically, but also, as it turns out, literally, as they actually follow him from town to town, grabbing raw grain on the way.


When we think about being disciples of Christ, we can’t think about 20th century American recreational fishing.  We are instead called to stand in the water, hurl the heavy net, tug it back, again, again.

11 comments for “Gone Fishin’

  1. July 23, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Many thanks for this, Julie.

  2. Ben H
    July 23, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    Great stuff!

  3. July 23, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    I’m really enjoying your scripture posts, Julie. Thanks.

  4. Mark B.
    July 23, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    But the father in A River Runs Through It believed that the apostles were fly fishermen, and the beloved apostle, John, was a dry fly fisherman.

  5. Old man
    July 23, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Whoever claims that recreational fishermen don’t work very hard to catch their limit has never fished with my family!

    Nice post, Julie.

  6. Niklas
    July 24, 2013 at 1:37 am

    Brilliant and insightful, thanks!

  7. July 24, 2013 at 9:09 am

    An interesting side to this is the account in John 21. Here, there is a repeat of the apostles gone fishing and catching nothing until Christ tells them (again) to let down their nets. As they feast upon the meal provided by the resurrected Lord, Jesus no longer has them as fishermen, but as shepherds (feed my sheep/lambs). Jesus has shown them that he can catch fish. While fishing is hard work, once the fish are hauled in, it is basically over with. But a shepherd must tend the flock, feed it, protect it from harm, etc. There is no end to caring for the sheep. The work is now greater than before.

  8. Kevin Barney
    July 24, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Maybe a modern analog might be the kind of fishing the Discovery Channel shows on The Deadliest Catch. On the Bering Sea, men work themselves to exhaustion throwing and pulling in pots with crabs. The work is insanely hard and dangerous.

  9. July 24, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Thanks for this, Julie! I appreciate your insight here.

  10. S.Lars
    August 11, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Julie. I wasn’t sure how to comment on the page of your TJE review, so I just clicked your most recent post. There was something about that TJE post that just struck me wrong. I’m not a TJE homeschooler as I have my own personal issues with some of the theologies behind it, however. I couldn’t help but notice that you took that man’s good name and pretty much slandered it publicly.

    I heard a simple lesson recently that made me ponder deeply. It was about Satan’s different names in the scriptures. The two that stood out to me were destroyer and accuser. The teacher brought the lesson home by inviting us to all think about whether our actions are of God or Satan when we destroy, criticize, tear down, and accuse others.

    It hit home for me as it comes natural for me to see flaws, and the negative before the good. I’m almost wired this way, but since this lesson have been trying to re-wire my brain. Anyhow, I thought maybe you could give Oliver Demille a break. What gets written online can have incredible power for good or evil. I think reporting the facts is fine, but maybe report on both sides so you can give your readers an honest view, eh? Thanks. -Sincerely, Steph

  11. Julie M. Smith
    August 11, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    S. Lars, given what has come out recently about DeMille, I hardly think you can accuse me of slandering him:


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