They have just finished cleaning their nets. The effort would be more satisfying if a few scales were gleaming among the weeds twisted in the water-logged cords. They caught absolutely nothing worth keeping last night.
A throng kicks up sand as they shuffle and stumble after a man. Their din throbs with the ache in Simon Peter’s temples. The sand on his hand mixes painfully with the sleep-deprived grit in his eyes.
Maybe the day will not be a total loss. After all, this man is Jesus. Nothing is ever quite the same when Jesus is around. At least, it will get them away from the milling crowd. With a disgruntled jerk, Simon shoves off from the shore.
Jesus begins speaking again. He teaches as the other rabbis do, reciting the Scriptures from memory. In spite of his fatigue, Simon Peter begins listening.
Something in the way Jesus explains Levitical law or recites a Psalm or interprets prophesy is different. It is almost as if He knew Moses, David, and Isaiah personally. Even an uneducated fisherman can appreciate that is a bit odd. But, this is Jesus. Nothing is ever quite the same when Jesus is around.
Spite returns, and Simon Peter stops listening. “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing, but I will do as You say and let down the nets.”
Soon the nets strain, the sinews pop and loosen. Something in Simon Peter’s heart breaks, too, as they call to James and John for help, as the boats begin to sink with the weighty catch.
But, Jesus says, “Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”
They bank their boats and forget their previous investments. This is Jesus. Nothing is ever quite the same when Jesus is around. Nothing will ever be the same for these fishermen again.
The same can be true for anyone who follows after Christ. Occupation becomes vocation in unexpected ways. I know the frustration of work ending in a nothing-nightmare. I have wanted to wash my hands of the task as I attempt to untwist a knotted mess.
Then, Jesus appears with witnesses and says, “Put out a little way.”
In my selfishness, I might think He wants me to help Him, that He wants to spend time with me, that maybe this is my means of escape. People can be annoying, especially in the morning. But, more than that, they can mess up my accomplishments or ridicule my efforts or take advantage or …be just plain mean.
Helping Jesus? Spending time with Jesus? Escape with Jesus? What could be better?!
He does want my help and to spend time with me. But, is this my means of escape? Not without getting my feet wet.
Then He begins teaching so everyone can hear. I listen. I hear what He is saying. But, is He saying it to me? Or them? Or both?
Why do I feel like nothing will ever be the same?
Again?! It didn’t work the last time. Why would it work this time?
But, I’ll just be wasting my time! There won’t be anything except a tangled mess! Again! (Sigh.) But, I’ll do it. After all, it is You, Jesus. Nothing is ever quite the same when You’re around.
Sooner than later the nets will strain, the sinews will pop and loosen. Something in my heart will break, too, as I call my friends for help, as I begin to sink with the weighty catch.
“Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful woman!”
But, Jesus says, “Do not fear…”
My life boat is banked, and my previous investments are forgotten. This is Jesus. Nothing is ever quite the same when Jesus is around. Nothing will ever be the same for me again.