A Fishing Net (Luke 5; John 21)

Luke 5 and John 21 tell separate stories of Jesus helping the disciples take in a huge catch of fish. In many ways the stories are very similar; there is one element that is strikingly different.

In the Luke 5 account as the disciples bring in the fish, the net begins to tear and the boat begins to sink, symbolizing the precarious nature of the pre-resurrection kingdom of God and the evil one’s attempt to sabotage the kingdom by sabotaging Jesus. It’s not that Jesus has less power or has less authority prior to his resurrection; it’s that prior to the resurrection, Jesus is continually tempted to self-centeredness, to doubt the Father’s plan, to fall short of His calling. If these temptations are not real, if it’s impossible for Jesus to sin and to reject His incarnational purpose, then Jesus is not truly human, and the writer of Hebrews is lying to us when he describes Jesus: For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin (4:15). That Jesus is truly and fully human is at the heart of the Incarnation, the Crucifixion and the Resurrection and everything else we believe as Christians. If Jesus is not fully human, then our faith is a fraud. If Jesus is fully human, then Jesus is continually tempted to go his own way, to start his own kingdom, to turn away from the Father’s plan, which means that the net of the kingdom is continually in jeopardy of being torn.

The resurrection changes all of this. Once Jesus has been raised from the dead, the evil one no longer has any power to tempt Him: the kingdom of our God and of His Christ is secure. The net that earlier began to tear now holds firm; there is no longer any threat of it being in jeopardy; even with all of the fish flopping around in it, it is “un-tearable,” if I may invent that word. There is not even the slightest hint that it is in any way compromised. Now that Jesus is risen from the dead and has put all his enemies under his feet (1 Corinthians 15:25), we have complete confidence that in the power of the resurrected Christ, the church is secure, the kingdom will not fail, no matter how much positive or negative pressure may push against it.

Knowing what Christ has done and knowing that the kingdom is secure, we can be the church with confidence and joy, with grace and truth. We do not need to live defensively as though the church’s existence is still in doubt. We are called to bask in the power of God that directs who we are as God’s people and how we operate as God’s people in a world that still believes that the final outcome is up for grabs, which is the subject of next week’s posting.