Sunday, July 6, 2014

Net Weight

Adam and Eve had free reign of the garden. They just had one rule. Don’t touch that one tree. So that’s the fruit they ate. God punished them, but He also gave them a promise.

Out of all that horrible news God had for them, there was one good thing. Yes, from then on life would be really tough. Men would have to plow the ground and battle thorns and thistles. Yes, women would have unimaginable pain when giving birth. Yes, as a result of this first sin, people would continue to sin. But someday, a descendent of the woman would come and put an end to the tempter’s evil trickery. This descendent would crush the snake’s head, but the snake would bite.

Abram was getting old. He and Sarai were way too old for kids, and they were starting to get worried it wouldn’t happen. When God kept insisting they would have a child, they laughed! How many 100-year-old fathers of a newborn baby do you know? But God promised Abram that he would be the father of many nations. Abram would have so many descendants that counting them would be like trying to count grains of sand or stars in the sky. God even gave him a new name, Abraham, which meant “Father of Many.” God kept His promise to Abraham, and Isaac was born. Isaac had a son named Jacob. Jacob had a son named Judah. Judah had kids. A bunch of Judah’s descendants became kings of the nations of Israel and Judah, just as God had promised Abraham so many years earlier. Thousands of years later, the greatest King of all time was born in a small town during a Roman census. He was also a descendant of Judah, and He was the one God was referring to when He said that someone would come along and crush the snake’s head. He grew up as the son of a carpenter, and He learned to make things out of wood. As He got older, He started teaching others. His name was Jesus.

There were lots of jobs that people needed to do then, just as there are now. They needed carpenters to make things. They needed fishermen to catch fish for the people to eat. One time, four friends were out fishing, and they were having a horrible time of it. No fish seemed interested in finding out what might be in the nets that came over the sides of the boats. Simon and his brother Andrew were fishing in one boat, and John and his brother James were in the other boat. They had been fishing all night, and had no luck. It was getting really frustrating!

Morning finally came, and they gave up. They decided to start washing their nets to get ready to put them away. Maybe they would have better luck another day.

Jesus was standing by the lake, and there was a huge crowd gathered to hear what He had to say. There was hardly any room for Him to make Himself heard, so He looked out and saw the two fishing boats nearby. Jesus asked Simon if He could use his boat for a while. They pulled away a bit from the shore, and Jesus started teaching in a loud voice so everyone onshore could hear. When He was done with the lesson, He turned to Simon and said, “Hey, let’s go out a bit further to where the water is deep. Then let the nets down again and see what happens.”

“Um, Lord,” said Simon, “We’ve been doing that all night. No luck. But if you say so, we’ll try it.” So they pulled out farther. Simon and Andrew let down the nets, and they couldn’t believe it! Fish started jumping into the nets! They were getting so heavy that they had to call to James and John for backup! Pretty soon, there were so many fish in both boats that the boats started to sink!

They were so shocked that Simon said, “Get out of here, Lord! I’m not worthy! I’m a sinful man!”

Jesus replied, “Don’t worry. You’ve been catching fish all your life. Now you get to fish for people.”

Once they got their boats on shore, they left everything behind and followed Jesus. But He had some more people in mind to invite to join His little group of students.

The Jews hated tax collectors. They had a horrible reputation for taking more money than they were entitled to, and the citizens resented it. A guy named Levi was sitting at his tax booth, dealing with angry Jews day in and day out. They didn’t dare disobey him in case they might get in trouble, but they didn’t like him. At all. So it was probably a bit of a surprise when a Jewish rabbi with a small group of followers came along and said, “Hey Levi, come on!” Levi left everything and joined Jesus’ growing group.

But before leaving, Levi hosted a big party for Jesus at his house and invited a bunch of his tax collector friends. The Pharisees saw what was happening, and they were upset. They didn’t think Jesus should associate with such horrible thieves as tax collectors. But Jesus said, “Whoa, dudes! Chill! If you’re healthy, you don’t need a doctor! The good guys don’t need to turn their lives around, so I’m here to help the sinners to turn!”

Levi turned his life around. He followed Jesus, and he became known as Matthew. Simon became known as Peter. James, John and Andrew got to keep their names (although Jesus nicknamed James and John the Sons of Thunder). More followers joined their group, and Jesus taught them to follow God, to love others, and to spread the good news that people can be saved from their sin!


ΙΧΘΥΣ
The Greek word ichthys, or fish. It was used by early Christians as an acronym for the Greek words Ίησος Χριστός, Θεο Υός, Σωτήρ, or "Jesus Christ, God's Son, Savior."
© 2014 Steven Sauke
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