Sun, Feb 10, 2019

A net game?

A story sermon

The sun had risen over the steep cliffs, bathin’ us in golden light;

and a gentle breeze was blowin’ across the clear, warm salty water;

but there weren’t the usual squawks of seagulls fightin’ for fish gizzards.

It was unusually silent.


We were all feelin’ pretty knackered––

it’d been a long night…

strainin’ at the oar…

castin’ our nets sodden with salty water…

then hawlin’ them in…

and rowin’ to another spot…

and tryin’ again…

all to no avail.

Not even one tiny Galilean sardine.


So we came back to shore…

and started the tedious job of washin’ the salty water from the nets…

hungry, tired, and frustrated. 


We’d only just started washin’ the nets, when the silence was broken… 

by a din comin’ towards us…

down from the Galilean hills…

growin’ louder and louder––

the drone of voices from a huge mob of people…

swarmin’ through the streets of Capernaum…

and headin’ towards the shoreline.

As they got closer, I recognised the bloke at the front.

I’d seen him last time he came to town.

He caused quite a stink up at the synagogue––

not that was there, mind you.

But I heard about it.

Apparently, he said some pretty powerful stuff…

about how God loves and accepts everyone;

spoke like he really knew God.

Not only that, but he started healin’ people:

telling ‘em they were whole…

that God accepted them––

even old Rueben… 

who’d been actin’ strangely for years, doin’ all sorts of crazy stuff…

never fittin’ in…

so that people said he was possessed.

Well, apparently, this Jesus fella just spoke quietly to him.

And, next thing you know, Reuben’s a changed man:

started combin’ his hair and everythin’…

gone back home to his missus and the kids.

I, umm, happened to be walkin’ past the synagogue at the time…

goin’ to meet me mates at the pub.

But when I heard what’d happened I stopped;

waited near the front door;

and, when he left, I called out…

“Errrr, ‘scuse me, mate, but me mother-in-law’s a bit crook…

d’ya think, maybe, ya can do somethin’ about it?”

Well… blow me down… he did, didn’t he!

Came back home with me.

Spoke quietly to her…

just like he did with old Reuben, apparently…

then took her by the hand and helped her get up.

She seemed a lot better.

So she made us sit down…

while she rustled up some bread and cheese.

It was awfully nice of him to do that.

So I said to this Jesus fella, “Thanks, mate.

Now, is there anythin’ I can do for you?”

And, quick as a flash, he said...

“Come, follow me!”



I couldn’t, could I?

After all, I’ve got responsibilities.

I’ve got a family to support.

It’s all well and good to have dreams and visions.

It’s okay to be religious and all that.

But ya can’t get carried away with it.

You’ve gotta be practical, don’t ya?

So I didn’t go.


Well, blow me down, here he was back again.


By that time, the huge crowd had filled the narrow strip of shoreline.

And they were yellin’, and pushin’, and shovin’––

any minute, I expected they’d all go over like a stack of dominoes…

with that Jesus fella on the bottom of the pile.

I guess he knew it too.

‘Cause he went and stood in me boat… 

and waved at me.

“Simon, would you mind taking me out a little so I can talk to them?”

I s’pose it was the least I could do.

But, to be honest, I couldn’t tell ya what he actually said.

Sittin’ there in me boat…

sun beaming down… 

doing nothin’… 

me mind began wanderin’…

ponderin’ all the poor catches of late;

wonderin’ how I was gonna pay for me fishin’ licence;

not to mention the taxes and tolls;

and gettin’ enough for the family to eat.

Right on cue, me stomach started rumblin’ with hunger…

shakin’ me back to reality.


Well, havin’ finished talkin’ to the crowd, that Jesus fella said…

“Why don’t you go back out and cast your nets”.

What a stupid thing to suggest!

What would he know?

I mean, he aint no fisherman... he’s just a carpenter!

These nets were made for night-time fishing.

The fish wouldn’t come near ‘em in broad daylight.

What a joke!

But I was restrained.

Tried to keep a straight face…

and just responded, a bit sarcastically, “Sure, mate, if you say so”.

I didn’t expect anythin’ to happen.

In fact, I knew nothin’ would happen.

But I thought… I might as well do it anyway.

If I do what he asks and it doesn’t work, maybe he’ll knick off and leave me alone…

and I can get on with my life.


Well, I still can’t believe what did happen!

All of a sudden… the water below us was a mass of splashin’ and churnin’…

strainin’ the nets.

I started tryin’ to haul ‘em in, but I couldn’t.

The rope was stretchin’ under the weight.

In all my years of fishin’, we’d never had a catch like that.

And that Jesus fella–– 

he was just sittin’ there…

at the bow of the boat…

with a smug look on his face that seemed to say… “why are you so surprised?”


To be honest, I don’t know what came over me.

Maybe it was confusion…

or embarrassment…

or fear…

but I dropped to my knees.

Clearly, he was a holy man––

someone in whom God was at work.

And he was in my boat.

With me.

But who was I?

Just a poor fisherman strugglin’ to make ends meet.

Respectable folk call us sinners––

all the time––

‘cause they reckon we work in a dishonourable trade:

bloody, dirty, and smelly…

makin’ us unclean and impure;

and we’re out at night…

leavin’ our womenfolk alone and unprotected;

and, to make ends meet, I gotta work on the Sabbath.

So I can’t perform the sacrifices they say I’m supposed to…

and I don’t have time to attend meetings at the synagogue…

and I can’t afford to give much to the temple.

All of which, they keep tellin’ me, makes me a sinner––

someone to be avoided and despised;

someone considered worthless.

So, why did he do it?

What could he possibly want from me?

Confused and afraid, I cried out…

“Leave me alone, mate, I’m just a sinner.

I aint educated.

I aint no preacher.

And I aint ‘specially religious.

Honestly, I’ve nothin’ much to offer–– 

nothin’ of any use to you.

Go find someone else to help”.


But he just looked at me, and smiled…

put his hand on my shoulder…

and said, very gently…

“Don’t be afraid.

You’ve got a lot more to offer than you think.

Come with me. 

Help me to ‘catch people’.

Help me to show them that God accepts everyone––

without exception––

and wants them to have new life”.


Well, I couldn’t keep makin’ excuses, could I?

Not after all that’d happened.

Not after everythin’ he’d done.

Not after what I’d experienced.

I had to follow him, didn’t I?


And you know…

it occurred to me… 

it’ll probably be easier catchin’ people––

‘cause there aint any ya gotta throw back.

Powered by: truthengaged