Two brothers, Simon and Andrew, hang out on shore cleaning their nets. It had been a long night. Even though they have landed the boat and have decided to get some rest, Simon throws the net out into the water one more time and catches nothing but water. They had fished all night and caught nothing – not great results for vocational fishermen. Simon and Andrew haven’t slept much and they’re probably not in a great mood. Their buddies and fishing partners, James and John, are nearby gathering their gear in a different boat.
Jesus walks the shore of the Sea of Galilee (also called the Lake of Gennesaret), a large freshwater lake. It is a beautiful lake, brimming with life. He sees some fishermen, guys messing with their nets and moping around. He approaches them and they look up.
Jesus climbs into Simon’s boat.
Simon and Andrew are probably confused and perhaps annoyed, at least at first. They probably knew who Jesus was. At the time He lived in Capernaum, which is a city on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Now we don’t know where exactly the Scriptures find these fishermen on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, but if they fished the area often they probably lived nearby. Surely they had heard about this young man who preached a new message, a message of repentance and salvation. He was now in their boat.
As people congregate on shore, Jesus takes a seat and begins to teach from Simon’s boat (Luke 5:3). After teaching for a while, Simon and Andrew presumably sitting next to Jesus in the boat, Jesus tells them to put the boat out into the deep and let out their nets again. By now they were not annoyed – they were astonished. They call him “Master.” They hang on His every word. They are a little skeptical of dropping their nets, but when the nets sink into the water, they are so filled with fish that they can barely haul them in. When they pull in the fish, it almost sinks their boat. Their minds blown at the wisdom and power of Jesus, He speaks to Simon and Andrew:
“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
Shortly thereafter Jesus makes the same invitation to James and John. These four ruddy and sun-tanned men had their world turned upside down by Jesus in a good way. When He makes the invitation to follow Him, here is their response:
“Immediately they left their nets and followed him.” (Matthew 4:20)
Simon, Andrew, James, and John leave their nets, still wet and fish wriggling in them. They follow Jesus. James and John left their dad sitting in the boat with their gear.
These men left their jobs and their families to follow Jesus. Instantly. Surely they had questions, but they knew after meeting Jesus that nothing in the world could compare to walking behind Him on the shore. In mere seconds, their hearts reoriented to Christ and their compass needle settled on his path. Drop net and go.
So here is my question for you: have you dropped your nets? Have you released your hold on security to follow Jesus wherever He may lead you?
Your net might be a career. It might be an idol or a habitual sin that you cling to. It might be your own identity – what you want to be. It could be your family. Maybe your net is comfort.
You cannot drag your net behind you as you follow Jesus. It will slow you down and you will find that He becomes a dot on the horizon as you sweat and pull and the nets drag on weeds and thorns. Whatever holds us back from a deeper relationship with Jesus is a net. And it must be dropped.
Dropping a net is an action. It is not the absence of a net altogether – it is taking the net in your hand, still wet, and dropping it so you can follow Jesus. Dropping your net is repentance, which means “a change of mind” in the Greek. One moment a mind focused on one thing, the next a mind focused on Christ.
I’ll end with this. It is possible that these fishermen ended up with their nets again. It is possible that these men still did some fishing here and there when they had to. But it was with new lenses and redeemed nets. They would hold on to their nets lightly, and Jesus firmly.
Have you dropped your nets?