The net was ready to split with the sheer volume of our catch. The water churned with the efforts of hundreds of fish struggling for freedom; the water shimmered as the sun reflected on the scales the fish had lost in their frantic efforts.
I had never seen a catch this big and even as I struggled with the twine I was busy spending the money we’d see from the catch.
We’d been staying close to home, so I’d taken the opportunity to get back out on the water. I might as well have stayed home in bed for all the fish we caught. It was one water set after another. But you can’t just quit and go home, what if the next set was the one that made the night worthwhile? Unfortunately, that set never came and as the sun came up, I knew that wherever the fish might have been all night, now they would be heading to the deeper water to get away from the heat of the day.
We had dragged the boat ashore and spread the nets out to mend any damage that might have happened through the night when Jesus showed up. I hadn’t seen him for a couple of days and as he made his way over I noticed that as usual he had people following him. It always amazed me where the people came from, but he never lacked an audience.
I waved him away, we could catch up later and the small group was anxious to hear what he had to say. Jesus plopped himself down on one of the overturned boats and began telling the group stories about the Kingdom and the Father’s love for them.
Well, as often happened, it was long before the little group became a crowd pushing up against Jesus, trying to touch him and begging him for a blessing or a healing. Everyone wanted something from Jesus.
We had just piled the twine in the stern of the boat when Jesus yelled over to me, “Peter, give me a hand would you? I need a little distance here, if they are going to hear anything.”
“Fine, climb aboard, if it’s just a little distance you want we can do that.”
Jesus took off his sandals and stepped into the water and made his way over to me, with everything else I had seen him do, I was surprised that he couldn’t walk on water.
When he got over to me he crawled over the gunwales and I pushed us out twenty feet or so, the bottom dropped off fairly quick so there were no worries about the crowd climbing aboard.
Once I got the anchor overboard Jesus settled in the bow, sitting on one of the overturned baskets and I excused myself and lay down on the nets in the stern.
Well, the sun was warming up, and I’d been up all night and it wasn’t long before I drifted off. I don’t often get to nap in the sun, but when I do. . .
I don’t know how long Jesus had been teaching while I slept, but I woke up to my name being called.
“Peter, let’s go fishing.”
“If you wanted to try your hand at fishing, you should have been here last night, when we caught zip.”
“Seriously, this isn’t for me, it’s for you, kind of a thank you for using your boat. Just take us out a little further and let down your nets.”
“That’s not the way it works Jesus, we fish at night for a reason.”
“Well, that didn’t work out so well for you last night, so let’s try my way, just one set and you can go home.”
“Fine, because you say so I’ll do it, but if I tear anything up we’re going to see if a carpenter can mend twine.”
So, I pulled up the anchor rowed out another thirty or forty feet, no use in going too far. One set and I was heading home.
John and James were on the shore, deep in discussion with Old Man Zebedee, he didn’t look happy, but he never looked happy. When they saw what I was getting ready to do John yelled out, “Simon have you lost your mind? Go home and go to bed.”
Zebedee hollered, “You’ve been with that Jesus fellow so long, you’ve forgotten how to fish. Your father must be rolling over in his grave.”
That did it. If I wasn’t committed before, I certainly was now. I threw the net as if I knew what I was doing, I let it sink, counted to ten and then started drawing in it. As soon as I put some strain on the lines, I knew something was different. My first thought was that I had snagged a log or rock that was lying on the bottom, but then as the net fought back I realized it was full of fish.
Not a few fish, not even a lot of fish, but crammed full of fish beyond what I had ever experienced.
“John, James, get out here and help.”
The Sons of Thunder didn’t even hesitate, turning their backs on their father they shoved their boat into the water and within minutes were alongside. And a good thing, I didn’t know if I could hold the catch much longer.
Normally we would have simply hauled the net along with the catch over the rails and dumped them into the waiting baskets. But that wasn’t going to happen, I was terrified we were going to lose the net or capsize the boat.
“Use the baskets like buckets.” Jesus said. That would work, I don’t know why I didn’t think of that myself, oh right, I was worried about my boat sinking.
John heard Jesus and without any more prompting both him and James started bailing fish into their boat while Jesus and I did the same on my boat.
I know how many fish my net could hold, and it was nowhere near what it held that day. We bailed fish until both boats were dangerously low in the water, and when it seemed like neither boat could hold another fish we were done.
Someone had already alerted Amos, and he was on the shore ready to deal, although he could hardly believe the size of our catch. He had to send his son out for more baskets.
“You see Peter, trust me and I will take care of the details. If you think that was fun, wait until you start catching people.”
Over the next few days, anyone who had a boat was out fishing in the daytime, but all they caught was water and sunburns.