Those boys of mine! I worry about them. Hmph. They were always such good boys. Never got into trouble. Well – not much anyway. Always a big help to their mother and me. Learned how to fish at an early age. Learned how to handle a boat out on this lake in all kinds of weather. I taught em. Taught em myself. They always loved the water. Didn’t mind the smell of handling all them fish. Mending nets by the hour in the hot sun. Good thing too, because I needed someone to carry on the family business.
The boys were always close. James about 18 months older than his brother John. Had a couple of close friends too. Andrew – and his loud mouthed brother Simon. Uh, you probably know him better as Peter. Got his name changed to Peter – which means “rock.”
But him and Andrew – they were fishermen too. Docked their boat just a short ways up the shore there. Ehh, we always helped them and they always helped us – specially when the catches were more than any two or three of us could manage.
Yeah, always hoped my boys would carry on the family business. And for awhile, it looked like that’s the way it would be.
But then – oh about three years ago – this traveling preacher came to town. Jesus was his name. He settled in. Made his home here. But I don’t know. He never really did hang around much. A few days here. Few days there.
Interesting fellow. As I said, he was a traveling preacher. Talked about God like he was real personal and all. Talked about a kingdom, and how we ought to love God and love one another. I gotta say, he was pretty impressive. And I liked what he had to say. The man sure could tell stories – stories that made you think. And then there was that time when the guys fished all night and caught nothing, and Jesus came along and they caught so many fish, the nets began to break.
Well, after a hard day at work, and the chores were done, my boys and Peter and Andrew would go into town and listen to him. After a few days of this, one day Jesus came walking down the beach here. Peter and Andrew were with him. We were sitting in the boat, mending our nets, and Jesus looks at my boys, and says, “Come, follow me.” Didn’t even think about it. Just looked at each other – looked over at me – and just dropped their nets and went after Jesus. Just dropped everything – left me here all alone. Said something – strange. Something about them fishing for people. And the five of them – the five of ‘em just walked on down the beach.
Can’t say I wasn’t a little bit angry. Man this younger generation, I don’t know. They sure are different from my generation. Well - guess they got to do what they got to do.
As I say, Jesus made his home here, but never was here very much. My boys traveled with him, so when Jesus was here, at least I was able to see my boys. Always brought their dirty laundry home for their mother to wash.
And my boys, and Peter and Andrew, weren’t the only ones who traveled with him. Twelve of them all together. And there were some women too. Called themselves disciples. Always a crowd. I don’t think I ever saw Jesus come home here to Capernaum but he didn’t draw a crowd.
Ah, the stories I could tell. People were healed, I tell you. Saw it. Saw it with my own eyes. Blind people given sight. People crippled from birth able to walk for the first time. People possessed came into their right minds. Why, one of the very first things I remember Jesus doing was healing Peter’s mother-in-law. She had a fever, and Jesus knocked it right out of her.
And then, and then, one day my boys came home, Peter stopped by with them, and they couldn’t wait to tell me about what happened out on this lake. One of the worst things that can happen to us fishermen is to get caught out on this lake in the middle of a storm. Wind whips up. Waves swamp the boat. Sometimes without any warning. Well – never forget the time they came home right after one of those storms stirred things up – stirred the lake up pretty bad as I recall – and they told me how Jesus came to them walking on the water. And if that wasn’t enough, Peter told me that he walked on the water too. Until he became so frightened he began to sink, and Jesus had to rescue him. And suddenly the storm stopped. Just like that. And everything was all calm and peaceful again. They told me that Jesus just told the wind and the waves to be still, and they were. Hey! That’s what they said! I’m not making this up!
Like I said, Jesus was an amazing guy. Everybody loved him. Well. Not everybody. Seems like along the way, he made some enemies for himself. See, in spite of the stories he told, the miracles he performed, the way he lived, and truly cared about people, there were some who had a problem with people saying that he was the Son of God.
Mostly it was the religious leaders in Jerusalem. But let me ask you. Could Jesus have said the things he said or done the things he did if God were not with him? Aren’t the things he said and the things he did exactly what we would expect God to do if God were with us?
Anyway, Jesus made some enemies for himself with the chief priests and Pharisees. Claimed he broke their Sabbath laws by healing on the Sabbath. I mean can you believe that? I think they were just jealous. Jesus didn’t do anything wrong. They were just jealous because so many people were following Jesus and not them.
So anyway – few weeks ago – up in Jerusalem – things really got bad. First I heard the news that Jesus entered into Jerusalem – riding on the back of a donkey no less. And people were running out to meet him waving palm branches and welcoming him as the Son of King David. I don’t know. Maybe they thought he had come to overthrow the Romans (spit). Boy, did they get it wrong!
It was a brief moment of glory of him, but it didn’t last long. His enemies – those religious leaders, had him arrested – put him on trial. Yeah right! What a joke! They found him guilty – guilty of blasphemy – of saying that he was God. (And from all that I have heard and seen, I was convinced that he was!) But they remained unconvinced. That’s when they made a deal with the Roman governor Pilate (spit) and got the Romans (spit) to do their dirty work for them.
They had Jesus crucified. Nailed him to a piece of wood. Let him hang there until he was dead. That’s the way the Romans (spit) do things. My own wife was there. She saw it. My son John too.
From what they told me, everyone was grieving. Distressed. Ready to give up. They saw him dead on that cross. And they took him down and buried him in a tomb. They all thought that that was it. (long pause.)
But that wasn’t it. No sir! That wasn’t it. Three days later – I hope you’re sitting down – this is so hard to believe – three days later – some of the women in the group – Mary Magdalene and a few others – went to the tomb early on the first day of the week – and they found the tomb empty. My son John ran to the tomb when he heard the news, and he found it empty too!
And that night – that night – Jesus appeared to them alive! Alive I tell ya! Yeah, I know, I didn’t believe it at first either. But how could I doubt my own son! And James and Peter and Andrew and all the rest!
Why, just this morning, the boys were back here, Peter and Andrew and some of their friends, we all went fishin’. We caught nothing until a man on shore told us to try once more. Why, we caught so many fish we could hardly haul them ashore. (Guess who got to mend the nets!) But it was Jesus! Jesus! We knew it in an instant.
You see, this had happened to us once before when we first met Jesus. That’s how we knew that it was Jesus again this morning. The same Jesus who made it possible to catch so many fish three years ago, is the same Jesus who allowed us to catch so many fish this morning. The same Jesus. Now risen from the dead.
I think now I understand what he meant by that statement he made when my boys up and followed him three years ago. It’s a different kind of fishin’ – fishers of people. We are so excited to know that Jesus is alive. That’s the good news that I want to share with you today. My boys – and Peter and Andrew – already today they have left home once more – this time to become traveling preachers. And I do my part too. That’s why I’m telling all of you. I am a fisher of people.
Why? Because Jesus is alive! And he wants me and all of you to follow him. You see, just like Mary, and James and John, and Peter and Andrew, we can all be disciples too.
Jesus was dead, but now he is alive! So come. You come. Believe. Walk with Jesus, and let him walk with you.
Join me won’t you? You can share this good news with everyone who will listen. I – Zebedee – I’ve become a fisher of people. And let me tell you – IT IS a different kind of fishin’. You can become a fisher of people too…. ……. Think about it.