Net Profit

  • By Pastor Boffey
  • on Wednesday, January 30, 2008
John 21:1-12 (1) After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. (2) There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. (3) Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. (4) But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. (5) Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. (6) And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. (7) Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher's coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. (8) And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. (9) As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. (10) Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. (11) Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. (12) Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. Gospel work is described in various ways, including sowing and reaping (1CO 3:4-8; MAT 13:3-23), building (1CO 3:9-11; EPH 2:19-22), and fishing (MAT 13:47-50; MAT 4:19). Our text today is not a parable but it may serve us up some parallels to the kingdom of God, i.e., the gospel church. Let us consider what these “fishers of men” (MAT 4:19) experienced. A) The disciples had undertaken to fish without the Lord being in the matter and caught nothing. Those who presume to evangelize while not having a conversation that accords with their profession (JAM 2:17-20; PSA 50:16), nor laboring first in prayer (EPH 6:18-20; COL 4:2-3), nor studying (2TI 2:15) nor consulting God's revealed will in the Holy Scriptures may expect likewise. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it...” (PSA 127:1). Worse, such evangelists might indeed catch much---bad fish (MAT 13:48-49). They might catch unreasonable and wicked men without faith (2TH 3:1-2). They might catch Pharisees-in-the-making (MAT 23:15). And they will catch flak from Christ for exalting their will and ideas over His own. But so are mega-churches built where booty outranks duty and the hooks are baited with loaves and fishes (JOH 6:26). B) They had labored all night and caught nothing but at the Lord's insistence they tried again with great success. Gospel work is often long in bringing forth fruit. Bread cast upon the waters may not return for many days (ECC 11:1). He who casts good seed into the ground should expect to “...sleep, and rise night and day...” before the earth brings forth “...the full corn in the ear” (MAR 4:26-28), so “the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it...” (JAM 5:7). Seasons of sowing without reaping, of fishing without landing, can be discouraging. But the Lord insists that we keep casting the net: “And let us not be we weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap if we faint not” (GAL 6:9). C) They had evidently been fishing in the wrong place and/or at the wrong time but when they heeded the word of the Lord, their enterprise prospered. Similarly, saints do well to not “give that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine...” (MAT 7:6), spending undue amounts of time trying to convert Pharisees when publicans and harlots are more likely to enter the kingdom (MAT 21:31-32). One's own family or community are not the best places to fish either (MAT 13:57) and those who think otherwise are rowing against the current and should not be surprised at an empty net. The Holy Ghost once forbade Paul to preach in Asia, Mysia and Bithynia (ACT 16:6-7) because the time was not right. But it was the right time for Macedonia by the word of the Lord (ACT 16:9-10) and so a net bulging with Philippians was eventually pulled in. If every place is an open door of utterance, then what is the point in praying for open doors of utterance (COL 4:3)? Let us “not boast of things without our measure,....stretch not ourselves beyond our measure” before faith is increased where it has sprung up so as to open doors elsewhere (2CO 10:13-16). Let us be faithful in duty and witness where we are, and should the Lord send word (i.e., if sincere inquiries or pleas for gospel help come our way), we may assuredly gather that a door is open (ACT 16:10). And oppositions at such a time are not proof that the door is not open but that it is (1CO 16:9). More later (Lord willing, JAM 4:15)....

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