Fishers of Men

While walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon (who is called Peter) and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

(Matthew 4:18-20)

The above verse is one of my favorite verses in the Bible. Matthew 4:18-20 is more than just another display of Jesus’s (naturally) perfect play on words. It puts me in the moment – dehydrated and dirty, hopelessly waiting for fish that never come – standing beside Simon Peter and Andrew as Jesus calls to us. In an instant, our once laughable attempt at considering ourselves fishermen bears more meaning than we could have ever imagined. Yes, we are fishermen (albeit poor ones). However, if we drop everything and follow Jesus we can be great fishers of men. All we need is a little faith.

Easier said than done. Simon Peter and Andrew came from a long line of fishermen. They were destined to follow the same lifestyle as those that came before them – and honor it. The decision to leave behind their nets, and their families, should not have been an easy one. However, they did just that and without a second of hesitation (immediately). Could I do the same?

At Yale, I am a student. I am fortunate to have a supportive family that trusts me and supports me as I pave my own path. I would be wrong to say that, given this blessing, certain expectations do not weigh on me. Just like my peers, I hope to do well here both academically and socially. I’ve put in my fair number of hours in the depths of Bass, juggled a packed agenda, and pulled too many late nights to get my work done (and done well). I have to ask myself, as Jesus asked Simon Peter in John 21:15, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?”.

“Valentina, daughter of Diego, do you love me more than these?”

More than what?

School, internships, friendships, the Internet, late-night snacks… the list goes on and on. “These” are the seemingly innocuous priorities that, at times, become my only focus. With time, I lose sight of my relationship with God. I lose myself and find it hard to get back to what is important to me.

 Just as the day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No”. He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” So they cast it, and they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work and threw himself into the sea. The other Disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, but about a hundred yards off.

When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire in place, with fish laid out on it, and bread. Jesus said to the, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, 153 of them. An although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

(John 4-12)

A little bit of context: Jesus was just crucified and the disciples scattered in the days after his death. Without knowing that Jesus returned, Simon Peter and a group of other disciples went back to their previous occupations. They went back to being bad fishermen. When Jesus appears by the Sea of Tiberias, the disciples did not immediately recognize him (I mean, he was literally the last person they expected to see.. especially because he just died). However, when Jesus reveals himself, the disciples are shocked. Not the least shocked was Simon Peter, the same disciple who denied Jesus three times before his crucifixion. Simon Peter jumps into the sea and swims to Jesus even though the boat was only a hundred yards away from the shore. His excitement is almost palpable.

This passage is so powerful because it demonstrates a key term: provision. God always provides for us, even when we turn from him (read: even when we do not deserve it). Just in this instance, Jesus cooks breakfast for his disciples without even asking them. They didn’t even have to cook one of the 153 fish they just caught. Jesus already had bread and fish with him. He gives them direction, tells them where to cast their net after a day of (you guessed it) less than successful fishing. Furthermore, he gives them 153 fish. Their net does not even break.

What strikes me more than the fact that Jesus provides is that he provides abundantly. We can not possibly imagine all that he could offer us, just like the disciples had no clue that the random guy yelling at them from the shore was Jesus and that they would catch so many fish with just a little bit of faith. I mean, that’s all it takes, right? Just a little bit of faith.

It also takes some time. Jesus invites the disciples to breakfast. He asks them to a meal. Do I meet Jesus when he asks me to share a meal? Do I appreciate the fact that all I need to do is show up and he will provide abundantly? Do I love him more than “these” things? The things that I use as excuses to avoid an uncomfortable meal? The answer should be yes. I should have breakfast with Jesus… and lunch… and dinner…. and snacks.

You are standing in a boat, but not catching very much. You are achy and alone. On the shore appears a figure – one you slightly recognize but can not quite put your finger on. The figure calls out, you follow orders. Then it clicks. The figure is the person you need – the person you always will need. It is God, your best friend.

Take a deep breath.

Jump into the water and swim.

Immediately, all is right.

– Valentina Guerrero, PC ’19

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